Kecskemet, Hungary, May 11, 2014. Both Norway and Hungary will play in the second round of qualifications for the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men. In the last match of Round 1 Pool 3 the Scandinavians overpowered the host team by 3:2 (25-22, 18-25, 25-14, 22-25, 15-11) to win the group, but Hungary also earned a ticket as the best runner-up among all three pools. Earlier on Sunday Switzerland emerged victorious with a 3:2 (25-22, 19-25, 23-25, 25-19, 16-14) against Bosnia and Herzegovina in what was a direct clash for the third place in the pool.
Norway will join the Czech Republic, Spain and Ukraine in Pool D of Round 2 which starts in the Czech city of Jablonec nad Nisou only five days from now. Hungary ended up in Pool C together with Estonia, Greece and Slovakia. The battles start on May 23 in Poprad in neighboring Slovakia.
Switzerland vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina 3:2 (25-22, 19-25, 23-25, 25-19, 16-14)
Despite the fact that both teams had lost any chances to qualify for the next round, obviously neither of them wanted to finish this campaign without a victory and they put up a serious five-set fight for the win. It was the Swiss that managed to squeeze the victory out of a very tight tie-breaker set that ended in overtime – 16-14.
Sébastien Steigmeier contributed 29 points to Switzerland’s victory to become the best scorer of the match, followed by Bojan Novokmet from Bosnia and Herzegovina with 19.
Norway vs. Hungary 3:2 (25-22, 18-25, 25-14, 22-25, 15-11)
The Norwegian team started better in this match and won the first set by 25-22. In the second set the Hungarians played better and took the lead. Although the Norwegians were able to equalize again, the home team relied heavily on Krisztian Padar’s bombs to break away towards the final 25-18. At this point, the home team had already secured qualification for the next round and it was the Norwegians that needed to win at least one more set to join the Hungarians. So they did. 25-14 in the third set calmed them down as well. The fourth set brought a close game, which was closed by Hungary at 25-22. In the tie-breaker the Norwegians took control and ended up converting their second match point to win by 15-11 and 3:2.
Krisztian Padar was the best scorer of the match with 26 points for Hungary. Three players followed with 22 points each – teammate Szabolcs Nemeth and Norway’s Mathias Loftesnes and Jonas Kvalen.
Scott Olsen, head coach of Norway: “It was a difficult match. The Hungarian players showed their professionalism. But my guys just kept fighting and fighting for the win. I am very proud of them. They worked hard, they picked up a lot of difficult balls and I am very happy. The next round pool will be a very difficult one, but we are ready for everything. My guys are not afraid of anyone!”
Kare Helvik Morken, captain of Norway: “We are very pleased, we just made some history. I am very happy, but at the same time we know that this week will be really hard. We are now going back home to Norway, because we did not expect to qualify. We move to a very strong group, but we are ready to fight.”
György Demeter, head coach of Hungary: “Unfortunately we had to chase the Norwegians. After the third set we were better, but the game was decided by our bad start in the fifth set. Of course, everything has a positive side as well: we got one more week to prepare for an easier-looking group.”
Peter Veres, wing-spiker of team Hungary: “I regret that we lost, but we probably got an easier pool for the next round. This team has not played together before, but now we have another week to become better.”
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