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23/09/2016 23:43
Road to #EuroVolleyM – Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Czechs make it four wins in a row
2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men

Luxembourg, September 23, 2016. A total 11 matches were scheduled on Friday for the second round of qualifications to the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men. Early in the afternoon Portugal made another step forward in their quest for a ticket to the #EuroVolley Finals by recording their fourth straight victory in Pool B. Their feat was emulated later in the evening by Germany (Pool A), Belgium’s Red Dragons (Pool C), the ‘Lange Mannen’ from the Netherlands (Pool E) and the Czech Republic (Pool F) that also made it four wins in as many matches they have contested so far. Latvia’s triumphal run in Pool D continued on Friday when the players from the Baltic country trashed Israel in three sets only 24 hours after causing a major sensation by beating pre-favourite Slovakia. 

Pool A

Montenegro vs. Germany 0-3 (13-25, 11-25, 15-25)

Germany showed their strength in the first match contested in Las Palmas this weekend. The German players claimed an early lead (8-3) at the beginning of the match and kept it to claim the first set at a canter (25-13) – also with the help of as many as 13 Montenegrin mistakes. Montenegro tried to improve the quality of their performance, but Germany did not slow their pace down. Great serves and powerful spikes from Christian Fromm and Simon Hirsch created an early gap, which was slowly but surely increased to take the second set by a landslide 25-11. Germany wanted to close the match quickly, and dominated the third set as well, helped also by some more Montenegrin mistakes. The squad trained by Slobodan Boskan could not keep the pace of their opponents and Germany got the job done with an impressive 3-0 victory.

Marcus Böhme, team captain of Germany: “Obviously we won quite easily. We dominated from the beginning, and we know how to keep the pressure high on our opponents. Despite the result, it was a very tough match.”

Vital Heynen, head coach of Germany: “We double Montenegro in terms of spiking efficiency. There is nothing more to say. We played better than them. I am very proud of my team, because they played a very good match.”

Slobodan Boskan, head coach of Montenegro: “Germany was the better team. We made too many mistakes, especially in moments when our deficit was increasing. We made some changes, we wanted to show a good performance but we eventually could not deliver what we wanted.” 

Spain vs. Switzerland 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 25-15)

Spain claimed a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in their home debut at Las Palmas. Relying on the passionate support of the home crowd, the players coached by Fernando Muñoz showed an overall solid performance in the first set. A great start marked by powerful attacks by Francisco José Ruiz was enough for Spain to set the pace of the game. The Swiss team reduced the gap but it was not enough to prevent Spain from taking the opening set by 25-21. The home favourites started the second set a little more relaxed and Switzerland immediately took advantage of this taking a three-point lead which they were able to hold onto to restore the balance in the match.

The third set was a really close race. Spain got under pressure and the tension was to be perceived. The experience and attacks killed by Ruiz and Sergio Noda helped the hosts claim a 25-18 win. An early lead paved the way for the Spaniards in the fourth set, as they eventually stormed to their first victory of this tournament on home soil.

Marco Gygli, team captain of Switzerland: “Today we did a great job. We played a little better than last week in Montenegro. We are very happy with winning the second set. After this, we lost some energy, but this match will give us more confidence for the next ones.”

Dario Bettello, head coach of Switzerland: “I was happy because until the middle of the third set we played at the same level as Spain. Our goal in this round is to improve with each match and get more experience. I am not that happy with the second half of the match when we made too many mistakes.”

Borja Ruiz, middle blocker of Spain: *We got the job done playing with high intensity. After losing the second set, we got back on track. Tomorrow we will fight for progression to the next round against Montenegro in a tough game.”

Fernando Muñoz, head coach of Spain: “Today’s match can be divided into three parts. In the first, we played with high intensity. In the second set we slowed down but our recovery was not enough to make it 2-0. Our fans helped us come back into the match and play at our usual level.”

Pool B

Portugal vs. Denmark 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23)

Portugal extended their winning streak in Pool B to four matches in a row after beating Denmark at the end of a nervous match. Both teams struggled a bit to find their best game. In the end, Marco Evan Ferreira was the best scorer for Portugal chipping in with 18 points.

Portugal delivered a strong performance towards the end of the first set recording some great blocks and sealing the set convincingly 25-22. Marcel Keller Gil and Filip Cveticanin both scored five points for Portugal as Denmark struggled in reception throughout the set.
Portugal maintained their high level also in set two attacking and blocking efficiently. Marco Evan Ferreira scored six points to contribute to a 25-21 win. Denmark came back convincingly in set three and did set the pace from start to end (25-22) as they attacked with much more power than they had done before. Mats Ditlevsen was the leading star of Denmark in the match totalling as many as 23 points. However, Portugal fought back in set four to eventually take three points from this match.

Hugo Silva, head coach of Portugal: “My team was very nervous and that continued throughout the whole match. Anyway, the most important thing was to win and so we did in the end. Tomorrow is the ‘final’ against Finland, who are the favourites since they play on home ground.”

Mikael Trolle, head coach of Denmark: “We did not play the best game we can and I think it was the same with Portugal. Some of my guys played suddenly very badly for a while, not at their usual level and that made things difficult for us. I think we maybe had a chance to beat Portugal today, but it didn’t happen.”

Finland vs. Sweden 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-22)

Excellent serving was the key element in the Finnish victory over Sweden. Finland’s opposite spiker Olli-Pekka Ojansivu was the top scorer of the match with 18 points.

Finland started the match with a very good attitude and controlled the first set from start to end. Elviss Krastins scored six points to pace Finland on the way to 25-22 win. Finland won also set two – and did so in style, leaving Sweden behind by as many as 10 points. Middle blocker Tommi Siirilä delivered a very strong performance in this set. Sweden put up a good fight in set 3. They were leading several times and the score was still even at 22-22, but in the last balls Finland spiked three points in a row, thus taking the set and the match.
Eemi Tervaportti, team captain of Finland: “This was just the kind of start that we wanted for this tournament – a 3-0 victory. We played a solid game although in the third set we really had to fight. Our serve pressure and also our attacks were really good today.”

Tuomas Sammelvuo, head coach of Finland: “It was a very good match from our side. We played calmly also in the third set. Our serve was good again and fairly good reception made it possible to attack well.”

Johan Isacsson, head coach of Sweden: “We put no pressure with our serve and without that it is difficult to play your best. We made a lot of service errors. Finland played a solid game whereas we didn’t take the chances we got.”

Pool C

Greece vs. Republic of Moldova 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 25-15)

The opening set of the match between Greece and Moldova was a close race. Moldova put some pressure on the Greek receivers with the attacks and serves of Serghei Predius, but as the money time approached, Greece stepped up their efforts with the help of their captain Mitar Tzourits and the ‘only’ 185cm tall Athanasios Protopsaltis, eventually taking the first set by 25-22. However, Moldova organised their block a lot better in the second set and attacks killed by captain Dmitrii Bahov and Igor Didorciuc paved the way towards their 25-21 win.

Moldova claimed an early 8-3 lead in the third set with Bahov and Predius setting the pace for the underdogs as Greece, on the other hand, made many unforced mistakes. However, strong serving contributed by Tzourits and the excellent actions of Protopsaltis helped Greece come back and level the score at 12-all. At 18-18 an ace by Andreas-Dimitrios Fragkos contributed to the first Greek lead in the set and after that Tzourits spiked time and again to record as many as 10 points by the end of the set and seal a 25-22 win for his team. Moldova were still hoping of taking at least one point from this match but Greece put much pressure with their serves and the attacks killed by Rafail Koumentakis were too much to stand for the Moldovan players, with the match eventually ending in a 3-1 victory for Greece.

Artur Romascan, head coach of Moldova: “Our players are a bit tired after four matches in one week and they did not always follow the instructions we shared with them.”

Sotirios Drikos, head coach of Greece: “We lost the second set because we made too many mistakes and at that point Moldova played much better than we did. However, we put some extra pressure with our serve and we could win the two sets that followed after that.”

Belgium vs. Ukraine 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-19)

Last week in Greece, Ukraine were the only team to take at least one set away from the Red Dragons. They even forced them to a tiebreaker. However, playing on home soil this week, the Belgians posted their third 3-0 win in four matches they have so far contested in Pool C. In Saturday’s direct confrontation with Greece, the locals can already book a ticket to the Final Round of the European Championship, whereas Ukraine still stand a chance to reach the third round of qualifications.
Belgium’s opposite Hendrik Tuerlinckx immediately put the locals in the driver’s seat with an ace for 4-1, but Oleksandr Statsenko wiped out this bonus with a couple of strong attacks. Over 12-all a handful of tricky serves by Simon Van de Voorde and Stijn D’Hulst led to a first substantial margin: 18-13. Dmytro Teryomenko’s ace for 19-17 hardly disturbed the home side. Substitute Pieter Coolman hurt the guests’ back row with his floating serves (23-18) before Tuerlinckx’ sixth point of the set closed it out: 25-20.

Dmytro Shorkin raised his level for an 8-7 Ukrainian lead at the first technical time-out of the second set. Coach Dominique Baeyens’ advice proved to be precious: with two blocks in a row, Pieter Verhees inspired his captain Sam Deroo for an ace: 12-8. After 17-10 Ian Iereshchenko’s block efforts reduced the gap, but Tomas Rousseaux brought the second set home 25-21.
Top scorer Tuerlinckx soon opened a four-point gap in the third set at 6-2. The visitors didn’t surrender at all, captain Kostiantyn Zhylinskyi kept the Red Dragons within reach until 19-16. With an extra couple of smart scores, Simon Van de Voorde crushed the last Ukrainian resistance: 25-19.
Pylyp Harmash, libero of Ukraine: “Last week me and my teammates had a much better percentage in reception. Too bad we couldn’t repeat that, since that was the key today: we didn’t have enough options in attack. Now we hope Belgium beat Greece, so that we can play a decisive last game against Greece. I’m convinced we can beat them 3-0 or 3-1.”

Tomas Rousseaux, outside spiker of Belgium: “We can be satisfied: we showed a good performance, we kept control for the full three sets, whereas last week we lost our focus against them once in a while. It’s perfect we could close out this game in three sets, since we need to be fresh against Greece. We consider them a high-quality team.”

Pool D

Israel vs. Latvia 0-3 (15-25, 18-25, 23-25)

After Thursday’s quite sensational victory over Slovakia, Latvia’s success story continued on Friday in Rovinj in the matchup with Israel. Latvia put much pressure with their serve and spiked powerfully to take the match in three sets.

Latvia set the tempo of the game right from the start and did not give away any easy points. The Israeli coach tried to change the course of the match with some substitutions but these moves did not pay any dividends – and Latvia needed only 20 minutes to secure a 25-15 win. Israel put a lot more pressure on Latvia in the early stages of the second set but their opponents responded in the best way – showing solid reception which paved the way for powerful attacks. The continuous pressure that the Latvian players put with their serve resulted in a number of errors but these were almost the only points that Israel could cash. Romans Sauss and Hermans Egleskalns – who eventually top scored with 16 and 17 points – were just unstoppable. Trailing 0-2, Israel had nothing more to lose and they put all of their energy in the third set. They improved their reception and offensive game with Sagiv Boulkin joining the actions and providing an extra boost to his team. However, Latvia edged ahead at the end and could take another three points to make it one step closer to qualifying to the Final Round of the European Championship.

Deniss Petrovs, team captain of Latvia: “This was like a copy of the match we played in Slovakia a week ago. We are happy that we played the way we wanted and as good as we can. After the first tournament in Slovakia, we said we would come to Croatia to claim first place in the pool and this still remains our goal.”

Alexander Shafranovich, team captain of Israel: “The Latvians started strong and put much pressure with their serve. We could not stabilise our reception and as a result our offensive game was bad as well. They have a really good team, they play consistent and they can rely on some quality players.”

Pool E

Turkey vs. Belarus 3-1 (25-18, 29-27, 20-25, 25-22)

In the opening set of their first match at Koog aan de Zaan, Turkey had no real problems holding off the Belarussians. Middle blocker Ibrahim Emet played strong and moved the score to 13-10 with an impressive kill block. When his team mate Baturalp Burak Güngör did the same only a few moments later, Turkey increased their lead to 17-12. It was outside spiker Güngör who ended the set with a successful backrow attack (25-18).

In the thrilling second set Turkey were comfortably leading until 18-14. From this point on Belarus started to slowly fight their way back. With great blocking from Maksim Marozau and some smart spikes by Andrei Radziuk, Belarus equalised the score at 23-23. Belarus even had one set point (23-24), but in the end it was Turkey who took a 2-0 lead after Metin Toy hammered the ball down for 29-27.

In the third set the score was tied until 18-18 but then Belarus took the initiative. After a great streak of points, Belarus won the third set 25-20 with an ace by Marozau.

In set four Turkey was close to sealing the deal when they took a 24-19 lead. Belarus almost equalised the score after some good serves from Marozau, but it was Burutay Subasi who smashed the ball down for 25-22 and secured a 3-1 victory for Turkey.

Ulas Kiyak, team captain of Turkey: “The first match in a tournament like this is always hard to play. And actually we are already thinking about the last match on Sunday against The Netherlands. We really want to take revenge for our loss against Holland from last week.”

Siarhei Busel, team captain of Belarus: “I am deeply, deeply disappointed about this loss. I have no explanation for the fact that we were not as sharp as we should have been.”

Austria vs. The Netherlands 0-3 (17-25, 11-25, 24-26)

It was Austria which caught the best start in the opening set leading 10-7. Dutch head coach Gido Vermeulen took a time-out and after this interruption Holland took back the initiative. Two kill blocks of Thomas Koelewijn brought the ‘Oranjes’ back in the lead, and from that point on the home side dominated the set. The 214cm tall opposite Kay van Dijk was scoring easily and The Netherlands eventually claimed the opening set by 25-17.
In the second set The Netherlands proved to be a way too strong for Austria. The home team was dominating in every aspect of the game and cruised to a 21-10 advantage on a serving turn of van Dijk. It was the experienced Jeroen Rauwerdink, who has already played 300 matches for his country, who ended the set with a hammering spike: 25-11.
Austria didn’t give up in the third set and tied the score at 24-24. Winning a set was a bridge too far for Austria, and Rauwerdink secured a 3-0 victory for The Netherlands after scoring for 26-24.

Gido Vermeulen, head coach of The Netherlands: “We had some problems at the beginning of the first set but after that we played very clean and made only a few mistakes. Despite a few points in the third set, our three receivers delivered a very good performance tonight. I’m glad we didn’t drop a set today and booked a clean victory.”

Peter Wohlfahrtstätter, team captain of Austria: “Our goal this weekend is to beat Belarus and claim good results against The Netherlands and Turkey. I think tonight showed that The Netherlands have the strongest team in this pool. We were eager to fight with them, but we played too sloppy in the first two and a half sets. Our reception was not so strong, and that’s why we couldn’t play our best game.”

Pool F

Romania vs. Estonia 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-23)

Romania delivered a very strong performance on Friday to open the programme of the tournament taking place in the Czech city of Jablonec nad Nisou with a 3-1 victory over 2016 European League gold medallists Estonia.

Romania made a few mistakes in the early stages of the first set and as a result Estonia claimed a four-point lead. Opposite Laurentiu Lica and outside spiker Bogdan Olteanu scored seven and six points, respectively for Romania in the first set but the other players underperformed and as a result Estonia could rely on their better team work to take the set by 25-23. The second set was marked by plenty of mistakes made by both teams. However, Estonia were no longer as effective as they were with their attacks in the opening set and made five unforced errors. Romania remained focussed through to the end and eventually restored equality in the match. The third set was entirely controlled by Romania that outplayed their opponents in all aspects of the game. Estonia looked kind of powerless and Romania easily took the set by 25-19. Estonia regrouped in set 4 and had a three-point advantage early on but they lost it already by the first technical time-out. It was a close game through to the end until Romania stamped two perfect blocks to finish it all off at 25-23 to celebrate a fairly surprising 3-1 victory.

Laurentiu Lica, team captain of Romania: “We just won a very important match for us. The first match is always very important and very difficult in this kind of tournaments. We don’t think we will be able to finish in first place but we will try to do our best to come closer to the Czech Republic.”

Danut Pascu, head coach of Romania: “First of all, I have to say that we played very well in comparison with the previous match last week. The players wanted to win every rally and they fought amazingly playing together like a real team so in the end we could celebrate a great victory against Estonia. Now we are ready to fight for second place, and we expect to play another two difficult matches.”

Kert Toobal, team captain of Estonia: “It was a difficult match for us, today our game was not so good, it was not about Romania but more about our game, which was bad. Even though we had better reception, we couldn’t make enough points from that and as Romania was getting better and better, we finally lost our hope and faith to win today. Now we are going to do our best to finish second in our group.”
Gheorghe Cretu, head coach of Estonia: “It was not our day but we have to fight as hard as we can to finish second.”

Czech Republic vs. Former Y.R. of Macedonia 3-0 (25-19, 26-24, 25-22)

The Czech Republic needed only 90 minutes to score a 3-0 victory in their matchup with the Former Y.R. of Macedonia – and even though the second set was pretty close, the hosts did not provide any real chance to their opponents and could celebrate their fourth straight win in the pool.

The Czechs started the match in style, fighting for every ball and showing perfect defence. They had a six-point lead at the second technical time-out and even though they made a few mistakes towards the end of the set, they still could secure a comfortable 25-19 win. The Czechs claimed an early 4-0 lead in the second set but four straight points by their opponents made it a much closer affair. The final section of this set was quite dramatic but the Czechs eventually had the upper hand at 26-24 with their solid reception making the difference in the end. The Former Y.R. of Macedonia improved their performance with each rally in the third set but the Czechs remained focussed and deservedly won the match in three sets.

Aleš Holubec, team captain of the Czech Republic: “We are very satisfied with our performance today, it’s important that we won, the first match is always very important, especially in this kind of tournaments, where nothing is easy. It was also a display of perfect team work.”

Miguel Angel Falasca, head coach of the Czech Republic: “It definitely was not an easy match, the second set was the tightest, but we played very good in attack and finally we made some successful blocks. We are happy with our victory and we are now getting closer to qualifying to the European Championship.”

Nikola Gjorgiev, team captain of the Former Y.R. of Macedonia: “I think it was a good match, unfortunately we didn’t even believe we can beat the Czech Republic before the match, so it’s almost impossible to win when you do not believe in your chances. It was about a few details, some good serves, free balls we couldn’t pass, free balls we couldn’t spike. In the end it’s 3-0, they are the better team and that is true. Anyway today’s match wasn’t that important for us, more important will be tomorrow and if we can take two clear victories tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, we still have a chance to move on to the next round.”  

Nikolay Jeliazkov, head coach of the Former Y.R. of Macedonia: “We tried to do our best but the quality of the Czech players is superior. The score is a clear reflection of that.”

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