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31/05/2014 20:00
Romania cashes ticket to Finals, straight victory propels Slovakia into third round of qualifications
2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Piatra Neamt, Romania, May 31, 2014. Romania scored on Saturday a fifth consecutive victory in second-round Pool F and after routing Bosnia and Herzegovina in three quick sets (25-8, 25-16, 25-14) the players mentored by Argentinean-born head coach Guillermo Gallardo could celebrate their qualification for the Final Round of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women in the Netherlands and Belgium. Romania returns among the top 16 teams in Europe after missing out on a spot in the Finals of the 2013 edition co-hosted by Germany and Switzerland.  Similarly to what they had done last week in Vienna, Slovakia women’s national team edged Austria in three straight sets (26-24, 25-16, 25-23) to cement their second place in Pool F and progress to the third and last stage of the qualification process for the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women that is scheduled for next year in May. 

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Austria vs. Slovakia 0:3 (24-26, 16-25, 23-25)

Austria started out strong as they were paced once more – like in yesterday’s match with Bosnia and Herzegovina – by their young spiker Srna Markovic. Austria called for the first technical time-out by the score of 8:4 but Slovakia woke up and fought back with the help of their opposite Martina Nosekova and middle-blocker Simona Kosova. Slovakia had turned the tables around by the second technical time-out (16:15) but Austria continued to play strong, with Markovic finding a way through the Slovakian block for the 23 all. Still Slovakia’s better reception and good blocks were enough for them to wrap up the set at 26-24.
Slovakia continued their strong performance also in the second set leading the way at both technical time-outs (8:5, 16:13) with Martina Nosekova and Miroslava Kuciakova dictating the tempo of the game. Austria tried to respond with Markovic and some well-placed blocks by their youngster Sabrina Holzer; it was not enough to keep the score close since Slovakia sailed away for the final 25-16 contributed by good defense by libero Dominika Valachova and especially by the blocks killed by Kosova and Michaela Abrhamova.
Slovakia kept control of the game also in the third set with Simona Kosova doing an excellent job, which paved the way for 8:5 and 16:11 leads at the first and second technical time-out respectively. That was nevertheless not enough to prevent Austria from coming back strong; Slovakia’s efficiency dropped down quite suddenly and Markovic regularly found a way through the Slovakian block to contribute a very close final rush. Slovakia sensed the danger and reacted with a few good blocks by Kosova and the attacks by Nosekova finished the match off at 25-23.

“We had prepared very thoroughly for this tournament and especially for yesterday’s match with Romania,” said Slovakia’s head coach Marek Rojko. “We tried to change something learning from the lessons we had taken yesterday. It was not easy to get ready for this match after we lost to Romania that clearly on Friday. We needed to win to cement our second position in the group and get the right to play the third round of qualifications next year. This victory is very important because we have secured our second position. We will now start thinking about what’s next.”
“We are a bit disappointed with the result,” commented Austria’s head coach Zuzana Tlstovicova, who is originally from Slovakia. “We had our chances in the first and third sets but we are a young and still very inexperienced team, and this was evident in some key moments of the match. These tournaments are a very good experience for such young team like ours.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Romania 0:3 (8-25, 16-25, 14-25)

Romania caught a flying start in their match with Bosnia and Herzegovina, with their opposite Roxana Bacsis and middle-blocker Alina Ilie Albu looking in absolutely fine form. The home side controlled the game from the start to the end with impressive 8:1 and 16:4 leads at the first and second technical time-outs. Bosnia could not stand the pressure put by the home heroines and by the time the set was over, the guests had scored only 8 points.
Bosnia came back stronger in the second set with the contribution of their wing-spiker Natasa Slijepcevic. The guests could even call for the first mandatory stop leading by 8:7 but Romania responded very quickly with Bacsis and Ilie to flip the charts around. The home side got back control of the operations widening their advantage to five points at the second technical time-out. Bosnia then brought in their opposite Dragana Bartula but even she could not change the course of the game with Romania cruising to a comfortable 25-16 to make it 2:0 in sets.
Romania imposed their rule also in the third set showing good reception and with Alina Ilie always outstanding at the net. Romania went up 8:3 and 16:7 at the first and second technical time-out and even though Bosnia attempted a sort of comeback, it was all in vain, since the set ended at 25-14 for a quick 3:0 victory of the home heroines.  

“Every match is important. We won this game and we have achieved our goal, which was to make the Final Round of the European Championship,” said Romania’s head coach Guillermo Gallardo. “The team played a good match today and I am happy that Romania is back in the European elite after some years of absence.”
“We knew that Romania has a very strong team,” commented the head coach of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Goran Hadzic. “They definitely were the favorites in this group. We, on the other hand, have a young team. Unfortunately we joined this competition without any training after our country was hit by major floods. This lack of practice could be seen today.”

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