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03/01/2014 22:00
Croatia and Oranjes rout Hungary and France on opening day in Rovinj
2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Women

Rovinj, Croatia, January 3, 2014. Croatia and the Netherlands caught on Friday a very promising start of their campaign at the third-round World Champs qualifier in Rovinj as they routed their respective opponents, France and Hungary, in straight sets. The “Oranjes” downed France 25-18, 25-18, and 30-28 while Croatia did not have any problems to claim their match with Hungary (25-20, 25-10, and 25-18) in what was also the debut of head coach Angelo Vercesi at the helm of the team. After taking on France and Hungary on Saturday, Croatia and the Netherlands will be crossing their ways on Sunday in a match that most likely will determine the final winner of the tournament.

The Netherlands opened the program of the tournament in Rovinj by routing France in three straight sets (25-18, 25-18, and 30-28). The “Oranjes” started out strong right from the go with France’s head coach Mauricio Paes asking for a time-out as his side was trailing 1:5. The Dutch supremacy was the result of their outstanding performance in attack and blocking. The Netherlands dominated the scene in the first and second set with a double 25-18 but the situation changed completely in the third. France displayed some fast Volleyball and reduced their mistakes to a minimum to lead the way 10:7 and 13:8; probably the Dutch players had relaxed a little too early after easily pocketing the first and second set but they eventually got back on track claiming a first match ball at 25:24. The audience in Rovinj could follow some excellent actions in a dramatic final section of the third set where France dissipated two opportunities to call for the fourth set before the Netherlands could wrap it up at 30-28 after cashing their fourth match point.
“It was a good match for us,” commented Dutch head coach Gido Vermeulen. “We performed really strong in service and reception for the first two sets. Afterwards France went for a make-or-break mission and for a while, their style of playing worked just fine. In the end our fighting spirit was the key to our success,” he continued.

Later in the evening Hungary was no match for the hosts of Croatia who cruised to a straight victory (25-20, 25-10, and 25-16) to delight 1,400 fans, including the President of the National Olympic Committee Zlatko Matesa. Hungary showed some real resistance only in the first set as Croatia – with Brazilian-born head coach Angelo Vercesi debuting at the helm of the team – struggling to find their rhythm. After that, Croatia imposed their rule with strong blocking and serving, particularly in the second set that ended with the score of 25-10. Though Hungary could play a little better, they eventually did not pose a threat to Croatia also in the third and final set of the game. “I am happy with this 3:0 victory especially because this was my first game as head coach of Team Croatia,” Vercesi said. “I am also particularly pleased with the fact that the players stayed concentrated from the start up to the end of the game. However, our job is not finished. We only made a small step forward,” he concluded.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

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