Oranjes upset Czech Republic on opening day in Opava
2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Men
Opava, Czech Republic, January 3, 2014. The third-round World Champs qualifier – Pool I got started on Friday in Opava with Bulgaria easily downing Cyprus in three sets (25-18, 25-19, and 25-5) before the hosts of the Czech Republic suffered a major setback as they lost in straight sets to the Netherlands (14-25, 19-25, and 33-35). With this defeat, the chances of the home side to make it to the 2014 Worlds look already compromised even though another two rounds remain before completion of the tournament.
After finishing fourth at the 2012 London Olympics as well as at last year’s CEV Volleyball European Championship and FIVB World League Finals, Bulgaria is certainly the “hottest” favorite to claim a ticket to the Final Round of the 2014 World Championship via this Pool. They easily routed Cyprus in the opening game of the tournament cruising to a speedy straight-set win.
“We tried our best and we played pretty well in the first two sets,” said Cyprus head coach Petros Kontos. “Unfortunately we had some kind of a black-out in the third set. Anyway, we came here to get some experience and we hope we will achieve better results in the future.”
Later in the evening, the hosts of the Czech Republic debuted in the tournament taking on the Netherlands. Before the start of the competition their goal was to compete with Bulgaria for first place in the Pool but even though more than 3,000 fans had come together to support the home heroes, they lost their game with the Oranjes in straight sets. The Dutch players comfortably controlled the match in the first and second sets (25-14, and 25-19) and in order to attempt a comeback the Czech coach changed setter for the start of the third set. The game was very close and the home side even had three set balls at 24:21. However, they could not capitalize on these opportunities and eventually lost that set at 33-35.
“We pressured the Czech players a lot, especially with our service,” said Dutch head coach Edwin Benne after the game. “They had some big problems and we won two sets easily. After they changed their setter, the course of the game changed as well. Honestly we were very lucky at the end of the third set because the Czech Republic was very close to win it.”
Czech mentor Zdenek Smejkal and team captain Ondrej Hudecek were evidently disappointed after this poor performance, especially because now their chances to make the Final Round of the World Champs look compromised. “Nevertheless we must try to fight even for this small chance and show to our fans that we can play good Volleyball in the next two matches,” Hudecek said.
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