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21/05/2014 22:00
Slovakia and Romania off to good start in Vienna
2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Vienna, Austria, May 21, 2014. On Wednesday Slovakia and Romania started their European adventure at the second-round qualifier in Vienna in the best way. Slovakia did not leave a chance to the young hosts of Austria cruising to a speedy straight-set victory (25-23, 25-16, 25-17) while Romania had to fight a bit more in their match with Bosnia and Herzegovina but the players around Argentinean-born head coach Guillermo Gallardo eventually had the upper hand after losing the opening set (3:1; 23-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18). On Thursday the competition will continue with Austria vying for their first victory taking on Bosnia and Herzegovina before Slovakia and Romania cross their ways in a match that may already have an impact on the final standing of the group.

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Austria vs. Slovakia 0:3 (23-25, 16-25, 17-25)

Slovakia proved too strong for the young Austrian team around Slovak-born head coach Zuzana Tlstovicova. The guests from the neighbouring country caught a good start storming out to a 3:0 lead in the first set; however, the hosts were not too impressed by their opponent’s good tempo and evened the score at 5 before flipping the charts around, taking the lead at 6:5. Slovakia called for the first technical time-out at 8:7 and once actions resumed after the break, they scored a few points in a row, thereby breaking away in the score. However, the young Austrian team showed an incredible fighting spirit, could survive four set balls for the opponent before Slovakia cashed the opening set by 25-23. Slovakia made the difference with their attack where the guests showed more consistency than the hosts.
The second set followed a similar plot, with Slovakia off to a flying start before Austria responded making it 8 all. However, after that provisional tie, the Austrians found it more and more difficult to stand the pace imposed by their more experienced opponents. This way Slovakia pocketed also the second set by 25-16. The third set was somehow disastrous for the home team that could score their first point only by the time it was trailing 0:14. Though they could add another 16 before the match came to a close, it was too late to stand any chance for a possible comeback and Slovakia cashed a deserved 3-0 victory by exploiting their second match ball.
Monika Stankovianska and Lisa Chukwuma were the only players to go beyond the 10-point mark in this match, registering 11 and 10 for Slovakia and Austria respectively.

“I do not think that there is such a gap between these teams as you may presume looking at the final score line,” said Austria’s head coach Zuzana Tlstovicova. “However, we can’t afford a total blackout like the one we had at the beginning of the third set. Even though we were close to fail completely, we could come back and make the score a little bit less embarrassing in the end.”

“We definitely did expect more from this match,” added Austrian player Sophie Wallner. “We could not pressure the opponent with our service as we had planned to do. Our defence was also not consistent enough. However, we will try to make the best out of the next matches.”

Romania vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina 3:1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18)

Romania claimed the opening match of the tournament at the Budocenter in Vienna thereby leaving up to the expectations as well as to their status of pre-favourites in the Pool. However, they needed some time to find their way into the game and especially Verica Simic, top scorer in the end with 22 points, turned into some kind of trouble-maker for the players in blue jerseys. The turning point of the match came in the third set where Bosnia and Herzegovina did not capitalize on a 21:19 lead. After that, Romania – physically stronger than their opponents – had a relatively easy task and could bring the match to an end after 109 minutes and in four sets. Ioana Baciu top scored for the winning side with 16 points; Alexandra Sobo and Nneka Onyejekwe also finished the game in double digits with 12 and 11 respectively.  
“It was difficult for us to estimate the value of our opponent,” said Romania’s head coach Guillermo Gallardo, who spent most of his coaching career in Germany before moving to Switzerland last summer. “At the beginning of the match we could see a good team standing on the other side of the net. After a relatively slow start, we could accelerate our tempo and I am happy that we won the first match of this tournament. Tomorrow with Slovakia we have another difficult task ahead.”

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