Nataniya, Israel, June 1, 2014. Hungary qualified for the finals of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women by topping the final standings in second round qualification Pool E. France finished runner-up and moves on to the third qualification round next May. On the last competition day in the pool, Hungary beat Sweden by 3:0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-20) to secure placement among the top two. In a dramatic turn of events, France shut out Israel by 3:0 (25-20, 25-10, 25-22) to push the Hungarians to the top, take the second place and leave the home team out of contention.
Sweden vs. Hungary 0:3 (15-25, 18-25, 20-25)
The match opened with a close 6-5 in Hungary’s favor, but it soon extended its lead to 8-5 at the break. Sweden came back to narrow the gap to 10-11, but from that point on the set was all Hungary’s. Intense blocking by the Hungarian women brought additional points. The Swedes tried attacking from the back court, but the Hungarian defense worked well. Hungary’s Evelin Vacsi and Bernadett Dekany scored the next 4 points to give their team the first set at 25-15. In the second set the Hungarians continued their momentum and took 8-6 and 16-12 leads at the technical time-outs. They continued to attack and the road to a second-set win was paved as they beat the young Swedish team by 25-18. The third set was crucial for the Hungarians. Despite an even start at 3-3, the Swedes soon dropped back to trail by five points at the first technical time-out. The central Europeans continued to dominate all the way to set and match victory at 25-20.
Renata Sandor contributed 15 points to Hungary’s important win. Ingrid Andrea Jacobsson was Sweden’s best scorer with 10 points.
Jan José De Brandt, head coach of Hungary: “We played excellently and did the job. We had to win in three sets in order to ensure at least the second place and we succeeded. We had good serves and excellent defense. We were able to take advantage of every situation. In the last set the girls were already excited and the Swedes used this in their favor and achieved 20 points. I am happy. We have lots of time now to prepare for the Championship or the playoff.”
France vs. Israel 3:0 (25-20, 25-10, 25-22)
The match, played in front of a cheering home crowd of 800 fans, went in the direction of the French who opened with 2-1. Israeli captain Moran Zur tied at 2-2. After reaching an even 5-5 the French machine took off to lead by 13-11 and then by 16-4 at the technical time-out. They continued to dominate and took the set 25-20. The second set saw an Israeli collapse with the French rushing to an 11-4 lead. At the technical time-out their advantage stood at 16-7 and they crushed the Israelis by 25-10 to take the crucial second set. The third set saw an Israeli comeback with the home team fighting for every point. Needing only one set to stay in contention for the third round, they tied at 8-8. With Israel faulting at the net the French took a 14-10 lead. Israel came back leading by 16-14 at the break and, with the crowd cheering them on, they were tied at 18-18. Israeli coach Arie Selinger called a time-out as the French held on to a 22-21 lead, but in the end French experience and determination won out and they took the set by 25-22.
Israel’s Moran Zur made 13 points to become the best scorer of the fatal match, closely followed by France’s Alexandra Jupiter and Elisabeth Fedele with 12 points each.
Arie Selinger, head coach of Israel: “We collapsed mentally and in the last set nothing worked. Our mistakes cost us dearly and the French team knew how to take advantage of this. At this level you pay heavily for your mistakes.”
Magali Magail, head coach of France: “I am very happy we did the job all the way and I hope we will do better in the next round.”
Click here for more details on the 2nd Round of qualifications, including match statistics and photos.