Serbia and Spain prolong their winning streak in Ivanjica
2013 FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship - European Qualification
Ivanjica, Serbia, May 8, 2013. Serbia and Spain – the pre-favorites of the Pool – extended their winning streak on the second day of action in Ivanjica where six teams are fighting for one ticket to make it to the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship coming up later this summer in Ankara and Izmir, Turkey. Spain needed four sets to cruise past the resilient players from Croatia (3:1; 25-19, 20-25, 25-21, and 25-19) while the hosts of Serbia did also concede one set to their rivals from the Czech Republic (3:1; 25-21, 24-26, 25-23, and 25-15). In the other match of the day Slovakia claimed their first win in the competition after a real marathon where the guys around head coach Miroslav Palgut edged Finland at the tie-break (26-28, 28-26, 25-27, 28-26, and 15-8).
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In the first match of the second day the European vice-champions of Spain had a tough ride against the resilient Croats. After a great battle, the Spaniards managed to book a valuable win in four sets 3:1 (25-19, 20-25, 25-21, and 25-19). Leo Andrić of Croatia topped the scorers’ chart with 29 points, while Spain’s Andres J. Villena was the most prolific player for the winning side with 27.
Even though Croatia had the role of the underdogs in this match, they created many problems for the Spanish side. Croatia caught the better start in the opening set and the European vice-champions had to struggle hard for each and every point. Through the middle of the set, the teams were evenly matched, but then the Spaniards managed to create a gap and secure their lead. In the end, it was 25-19 and 1:0 in sets for Spain.
The second set, however, offered a completely different scenario. Croatia got off to an early 8:2 lead playing with great determination and commitment. Spain slowly but surely narrowed the gap, first to 11:16 at the second technical time-out, and then to 15:18 after the break. Croatia’s time-out did not help as the Spanish side came within just one point of difference at 19:20. However, Croatia managed to tighten their defense, while the powerful spikes by Leo Andrić were simply uncatchable for the Spaniards. Croatia stormed to a 25-20 and equalized the match.
All through the third set both teams were keeping close to each other, but Spain was always slightly ahead. After 19:18 for Spain, the “red fury” went on to score a couple of important points and create an unreachable gap at 24:20. They used the second set ball and wrapped it up at 25-21 for the provisional 2:1 in sets.
The start of the fourth set was interesting, as both teams played very well. However, between the two technical breaks, Spain managed to create a gap and secure a comfortable 16:11 advantage. The resilient Croats managed to recover and narrow the gap to just two points at 15:17, but after Ricardo Maldonado’s time-out Spain stormed to 25-19 and booked another three points.
Ricardo Maldonado, head coach of Spain, said: “We did not play very well, but I have to congratulate our rivals who played an excellent match. Leo Andrić was simply unstoppable and we had to dig deep to secure the victory. I hope we will perform better in the upcoming matches”.
Andres J. Villena, captain of Spain: “Croatia played a great match. They were superb in defense, and also in service and in attack. We struggled with our reception and lacked precision in attack. Overall, we lacked stability in this match”.
Milorad Krunić, head coach of Croatia, stated: “We are aware that we played against the European vice-champions. And from this match I think that nobody could tell that there is some big difference in the quality of the two teams even though they are ranked 2nd in Europe and we finished the last edition of the championship in 27th place. I am proud of my players, and I have nothing to reproach. I am not expecting to win one of the next matches but if we play like we did today I will be extremely satisfied”.
Ante Giljanović, captain of Croatia, concluded: “We fought well. We knew that we had to be aggressive and I think we did a good job today”.
In the second match of the day Slovakia edged Finland in five sets 3:2 (26-28, 28-26, 25-27, 28-26, and 15-8), after 143 minutes of play. Simon Krajcovic of Slovakia topped the scorers’ chart with 25 points, including 4 blocks, while Elviss Krastins scored 19 for Finland.
In the first set the crowd in Arilje saw a very interesting match. Slovakia got off to an early lead, but the Finns managed to narrow the gap by the end of the set and equalize at 22:22. The teams played point-for-point until 26:26 when Finland managed to score two points in a row for the final 28-26 and 1:0 in sets.
The first part of the second set was very similar to the previous one. Slovakia started better, but Finland slowly but surely narrowed the gap and ultimately took over the lead. At 20:16 for Finland, Slovakia’s head coach Miroslav Palgut had to ask for a time-out. The Slovaks quickly tied the score at 20:20, and moved on to take a 22:21 lead. After a very intense final rush of the set, this time Slovakia was lucky enough to win it at 28-26.
The third set did not change the story much but the Finns were more focused wrapping it up at 27-25 to take a 2:1 lead.
In the fourth set Slovakia was determined to equalize once again. They went firmly ahead, keeping a good margin. However, as Slovakia was leading the way at 21:16, Finland started to close the gap. They managed to tie the score at 24:24, but the Slovaks did not panic. After a couple of missed set points, they finally forced the tie-breaker winning the fourth set at 28-26.
Slovakia started better the fifth set, but Finland managed to recover by the time teams changed sides of the net (8:7 to Slovakia). However, after that the Slovaks got off to a 4-point lead (12:8), and then stormed to a 15-8 to book their first victory in the tournament.
Miroslav Palgut, head coach of Slovakia: “Of course, I am satisfied with this victory. We played fine today, and overall I can say that we are performing well in this tournament. We were leading the pack for most of the game, but in the final stages we tend to lose our focus. However, I am telling my players that it is very important to fight until the end, and they did so in the fourth and the fifth set”.
Adam Prielozny, captain of Slovakia: “It was a very tight match. We won a couple of sets by a very close margin and we are very happy with this victory because we fought until the very end and we prevailed”.
Pekka Lahtinen, head coach of Finland: “We were not playing well, especially our setter. Our second setter is injured and we could not make any changes. We offered them too many chances in this match and they used it. The only good thing is that we managed to win two sets”.
Mauri Kurppa, captain of Finland: “We were not prepared enough for this kind of match. We attacked poorly, and we lacked focus. That is something we have to work on in the future”.
In the last match of the day the hosts of Serbia overpowered the Czech Republic 3:1 (25-21, 24-26, 25-23, and 25-15). Serbia’s captain Uroš Kovačević (pictured) topped the scorers’ chart with 22 points, while Michal Finger scored 21 for the Czechs. The match was followed by 450 spectators, including Mr. Raco Sekulić, Deputy Mayor of Ivanjica, who was in company of Mr. Miroslav Ristić, team manager of the Serbian junior men’s national team.
In the first set, the Czech Republic started very aggressively creating a minimal gap, which they managed to preserve until 13:12. Then, Serbia won 4 points in a row and reached the second technical time-out leading 16:13. From that moment on, Serbia controlled the game and wrapped it up at 25-21 to take a 1:0 lead in sets.
In the beginning of the second set the Czech Republic got off to an early 4:1 lead, forcing Siniša Reljić to call for a time-out. Serbia never quite managed to get back into the match, and the Czechs successfully maintained the gap all the way through the second technical break (16:13). After the pause, the home side reached the tie at 18:18, and then took over the lead at 19:18. The teams played point-for-point, but it was Serbia that reached the first set ball at 24:23. However, the hosts did not use this opportunity to end the set, and the Czechs stormed to 26-24 scoring three consecutive points to equalize the match.
The Czech Republic led for most of the time in the third set. They even had the advantage of 23:20 in the closing stage, but then Serbia started to play their recognizable game, scored four points in a row and reached the first set ball at 24:23. Serbia’s team captain Uroš Kovačević wrapped it up immediately for a 2:1 in sets for the home side.
The start of the fourth set was marked by ups and downs from both sides. The Czech Republic led 6:5, but Serbia went to the first technical time-out leading 8:6. After the break, the home side continued extending the lead. At the second technical break it was 16:9 on the scoreboard for the hosts of the tournament. Serbia then routinely brought this game to an end at 25-15.
Siniša Reljić, head coach of Serbia: “I was a little bit afraid of this match. I saw the Czechs playing yesterday against Spain, and I knew that it wouldn’t have been easy today. We lost the second set because we were out of focus, but I think the third set was decisive as we managed to overturn the score when it seemed almost impossible. I congratulate my boys, and the Czech players who played a fantastic match. In the end, I think that the better team won”.
Uroš Kovačević, captain of Serbia: “We wanted to win this match so bad. We started well, won the first set with ease, but then in the second set we were a little bit unlucky. So, the third set could go both ways, but we always deliver when it is most needed and that is our main quality. We are happy with this victory and we are confident before the deciding matches”.
Petr Juda, head coach of the Czech Republic: “We played better than yesterday. We had our chances, and we managed to win a set. However, Serbia was better today and I congratulate them”.
Czech team captain Adam Zajicek: “We played well today, the atmosphere in our team is good, and I think that we could have won this match. Unfortunately, we were unlucky and I congratulate Serbia on their victory”.