Italy wins tight match with Germany, still needs one last victory to make Finals
2014 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men
Pescara, Italy, July 12, 2014. In the second day of third round qualifications for the 2014 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship – Men (Pool H) Spain promptly redeemed for yesterday’s defeat to Germany powering past Estonia by 3-1 (25-12, 25-20, 21-25, 25-20). The home heroes of Italy won a key match with Germany where they dissipated many opportunities in the first and fourth sets before edging past at the tie-break (29-31, 25-21, 25-12, 26-28, 15-8). Italy currently tops the charts of the Pool with five points and needs another victory on Sunday from their match with Spain to finish the tournament in first place and make it to the Final Round coming up later this summer in Brno (Czech Republic) and Nitra (Slovakia).
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Spain vs. Estonia 3:1 (25-12, 25-20, 21-25, 25-20)
After yesterday’s rather poor performance in their match with Germany, the Spanish guys mentored by head coach Ricardo Maldonado found back their best game, earning a much needed victory against Estonia. This way Spain remains in contention for second place in the Pool and also for a ticket to the Final Round of the European Championship. Estonia’s chances to make it to Brno and Nitra have gone as the team sits at the bottom of the standing with zero points after two days of competition.
In the first set, Spain always controlled the game, taking the lead right from the start. Estonia, on the other hand, was never able to get close to their opponents, committing way too many errors.
The second set was closer as Estonia found a way to stand Spain’s strong performance. The game was in balance for many rallies, but then in the key moments Spain took the lead thanks to a decisive break and did not relinquish it anymore.
In the third set, Estonia showed their intention not to give up, displaying a much better play than in the previous sets. Spain was surprised by the reaction of their opponents and was not able to compensate for their slow start and for their initial gap.
Still, though they had suffered a setback in the third set, Spain got back to the court very motivated and gradually widened their early lead in the fourth set to take home three points from their second match in the tournament.
Spain’s head coach Ricardo Maldonado said: “Today our service was very good: we put Estonia in great trouble and for this reason they were not able to attack that well. In the third set we were less effective with our service and Estonia deserved to win it. Tomorrow we have nothing to lose, so my guys will simply give their best. I expect a great performance, especially when it comes to their character.”
Estonia’s mentor Raul Reiter commented: “Today our wing-spikers did not play very well, partly because of our problems in reception. On the other hand, our middle blockers and opposite did a good job. I am convinced that we can show a better play, even if against Germany tomorrow it will be tough because they are very strong.”
Germany vs. Italy 2:3 (31-29, 21-25, 12-25, 28-26, 8-15)
In the most anticipated match of the day Italy edged Germany at the tie-break thereby making a huge step forward on their way to the Final Round. On Sunday Italy – that currently tops the charts of the Pool with five points – will have to score a victory in their last match of the tournament with Spain to progress to the Finals in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Italy’s victory over Germany came after a very close match, where the Italians did not capitalize on their chances to bring the match to an end already at the fourth set. After that, the home heroes were able to regroup and with a superb performance in blocking – 16 in the end, with five contributed by Alberto Polo – they claimed their well-deserved victory at the tie-break. Tiziano Mazzone was the match winner for the home side with 24 points.
The first set was very close with Germany being the first to take the lead; Italy suffered the good performance displayed by their opponents but did not give in; a series of attacks killed by Mazzone helped Italy get the lead and claim a first set point. Still the home heroes missed out on seven chances to make it 1:0 in their favour and Germany eventually won the set by 31-29.
The young players around head coach Michele Totire fought back strong whereas Germany struggled in the second set. The home favourites did not think too much about the opportunities they had missed in the previous set and even though their opponents attempted a late comeback, it was Italy to have the upper hand at 25-21. The Italian team continued to play with the same intensity also in the third set where they claimed the lead right from the start. Mazzone and Giacomo Raffaelli scored repeatedly for the home side with Germany not able to find any mean to stop the actions of the home team. The “Azzurrini” held on to their early lead and eventually won also the third set by a landslide 25-12.
The course of the game changed once more in the fourth set where Germany created a lot of problems to Italy’s defence line; the home side did not surrender and their comeback was almost complete as they reduced their deficit to only one point. Italy then even moved to the front, but wasted two match balls and the set ended at 28-26 Germany’s way to call for the tie-break.
Italy there was on a class of its own and with a series of terrific blocks set the tone for the final 15-8 whereby they booked their second victory in the tournament.
Germany’s head coach Johan Verstappen said: “It was a tough game, and both teams played very well and gave their all to win. We are sorry for the defeat, but we have not yet lost our hope to qualify. Against Estonia we have to play like we did tonight.”
Italy’s mentor Michele Totire commented: “It was a difficult victory, but that makes it even more beautiful. We deserved to win, we could close the match before the tie-break, but Germany has done everything possible to prolong the game. This success is very important, tomorrow against Spain it will be just as tough, but being able to play knowing that everything depends only on our own performance is a big advantage.”