Strumica, FYR of Macedonia, May 11, 2014. The FYR of Macedonia secured the first place from Round 1 Pool 3 of qualification for the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men by defeating Sweden in the last match of the tournament in Strumica. However, after the final 3:1 (31-29, 23-25, 25-19, 25-22) that sent the home guys to the second round, the Swedish players were happy as well, since they also qualified for the next round as the second best runner-up out of the three first-round pools. Earlier on Sunday Azerbaijan had shut out Georgia by 3:0 (25-21, 25-12, 25-20) in what was a direct clash for the third place in the pool.
The FYR of Macedonia resumes its qualification battles as soon as May 16, when they will join Latvia, Poland and Slovenia for the first tournament in Pool A. Six days later, the matches in Pool F will start with the participation of Sweden, as well as the squads of Belarus, Denmark and Turkey.
Azerbaijan vs. Georgia 3:0 (25-21, 25-12, 25-20)
Both teams had lost any chances to move on to the next qualification round, so this match was charged merely as a local derby between the two Caucasian neighbors from the southeastern corner of Europe. Only in the second set the Azeris did not encounter any problems and won it by a landslide. In sets 1 and 3 they had to come from behind in order to secure the straight-set victory. In the third chapter Georgia was up by 20-19, when Azerbaijan scored 6 points in a row to close the match.
Yevgeniy Kovalenko scored 15 points for Azerbaijan to become the best scorer of the match. Soso Lobzhanidze reacted with 14 points on the Georgian side.
Sweden vs. FYR of Macedonia 1:3 (29-31, 25-23, 19-25, 22-25)
The Swedes were the most serious opponent for Zarko Ristoski’s team in the race for a place in the next stage of qualifications and that was more than clear during the whole match, which lasted more than two hours. Particularly interesting was the first set, which ran well into overtime. A Macedonian roulette shot settled the score at 31-29. The other three sets all had the same way, although the technical errors were obvious on both sides, especially in serving. And the momentary concentration and inspiration on the court decided the outcome of each set. Captain Nikola Gjorgiev and his teammates acted more inspired and the support of the home crowd solved the dilemma and arranged the final layout of the table.
Gjorgiev himself was the best scorer of the match with 20 points. Marcus Nilsson was Sweden’s most prolific player with 15.
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