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14/04/2017 22:40
Belarus and Netherlands improve record, Serbian girls suffer surprising setback
2017 U16 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Luxembourg, April 14, 2017. The second round of qualifications to the inaugural CEV U16 Volleyball European Championship – Women continued on Friday with as many as six matches across three venues. Belarus and the Netherlands improved their win-loss record to 2-0 in Pool A and D, respectively as Serbia suffered a surprising setback in their home matchup with Hungary. As for Pool C, which started on Friday in Holte, hosts Denmark and Belgium rallied to 3-0 victories over Iceland and Estonia, respectively.

Pool A in Belgrade (SRB)

Belarus started well into their second-day encounter with Montenegro, imposing their rhythm and claiming an early 8-2 lead, which was enough to finish the first set at 25-18. Belarus set the pace of the game also in the early stages of the second set, but the Montenegrins did not want to give up. After an initial shock, they tightened their lines, brought more effort to the game and fought for every ball, which resulted in recovering several points and getting in front at 5-4. From that point on, the match intensified. It was pretty even until the late stages of the set (17-17), but after Belarus edged ahead 21-20, Montenegro started struggling in reception and allowed their rivals to double their lead in the match (25-21). The girls from Montenegro, however, did not lose their faith and surprised their opponents in the third set. Montenegro reached a 7-point lead at 17-10, but after a time-out, Belarus managed to narrow the gap down to just one point at 17-18. However, it was all they could do in this set as Montenegro flew quickly to 25-19 and shortened the distance to 1-2 in sets. In the fourth set, the teams were evenly matched only until 5-5, when Belarus scored five points in a row to take a 10-5 lead, which gradually got bigger before finishing it all off at 25-11. Kseniya Liabiodkina of Belarus top scored in the match with 24 points.

“I am satisfied with our performance today and, of course, with the second win in this tournament. In the third set we had problems in reception, which resulted in a lost set, however we showed character and recovered in the fourth,” said Yahor Pimakhin, head coach of Belarus.

The hosts of the tournament, Serbia, started their match against Hungary with a lot of confidence and went to the first technical time-out leading 8-2. Hungary were helpless in the beginning and soon the fans got the opportunity to celebrate as the home side sealed the first set easily 25-15. In the second set, the visitors from Hungary consolidated their game leading at the first mandatory break 8-4. Serbia struggled with reception in these moments. The lead got bigger by the second technical time-out, when Hungary were leading 16-7. However, the home side did not surrender, and gradually improved their game, so Serbia got to just one point of deficit at 21-22. After Hungary scored two points in a row to take a 24-21 lead, nobody believed that this would be over soon. Serbia recovered all three set points with great attacking skills (24-24), and even reached a couple of their own, but ultimately Hungary were luckier in this thrilling finish of the set emerging victorious 32-30 to level the score.
Serbia started strong in the third set going up 7-3 and forcing Hungary to ask for a break. This resulted in complete turn of the events on court and into Hungary’s 16-13 lead at the second technical time-out. After that it was all Hungary, who wrapped it up at 25-16 to take a 2-1 lead in the match. In the fourth set, things went pretty much the same way. Serbia were up 8-7 at the first technical break, but then Hungary seized control of the match and were always in front by a couple of points. Finally, the match ended in a well-deserved 3-1 victory for the visitors who finished the fourth set at 25-20. Fanni Nora Vecsey of Hungary top scored with 21 points.

“Our block was very good today; we improved our serve as well. The girls knew what they had to do to win this match and they did it, they stuck to the plan and did so close to perfection. That was the key for our victory,” said Marta Halasz, head coach of Hungary.

Pool C in Holte (DEN)

In the first match of the day, Belgium downed Estonia in straight sets (25-18, 25-17, 25-11) as they stood out with their service and blocking game (this resulting in 17 aces and 11 blocks). Belgium head coach Yorick Vande Velde: “I am happy with the win. We were well prepared for this opening match against Estonia. Our service was extremely good and that gave Estonia a hard time. The girls have a good organisation on the court, and they played with good height and power, which gave us a lot of options to play fast.”   

The home stars of Denmark claimed the top spot of Pool C, after downing Iceland 3-0 (25-9, 25-15, 25-11) scoring no less than 21 aces. Denmark head coach Mats Björkman: “It is always nice to win 3-0. We were quite confident that we would win this match, as we knew the opponent from the first round. We dare to do a lot, but we need to be more precise in our execution. We will build on that before the crucial match against Estonia tomorrow. We managed to make some good, long service series and in general we improved in all aspects of the game throughout the match.”

Pool D in Palencia (ESP)

Poland came back strong after their defeat on the first day of the tournament in Palencia and claimed a 3-1 victory over Latvia (25-17, 22-25, 25-20, 25-18) at the end of a disputed clash. The spikes by Zuzanna Kuligowska were too much to handle for the young Latvians, so the Polish side achieved a triumph to stay in contention for a spot in the Final Round of the inaugural #EuroVolleyU16W.

Later in the afternoon, in a demonstration of efficiency and offensive power, The Netherlands beat hosts Spain 3-0 (25-11, 25-21, 25-18). Anna Zijl (11 points) paced the Dutch side as the young Oranje squad clearly overcame the helpless hosts.

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