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23/08/2014 16:00
Czech Republic power past Belgium 3-1, Bulgaria win marathon match against Russia
2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women

Tartu, Estonia, August 23, 2014. The Czech Republic overcame Belgium 3:1 (25-18, 25-22, 19-25, 25-17) in Saturday’s first semifinal 5-8 match of the 2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women in Tartu’s A. Le Coq Sports Hall. In the second duel of the semifinal 5-8 playoff, Bulgaria edged out powerhouse Russia 3:2 (25-21, 16-25, 10-25, 25-23, 15-5). On Sunday, Bulgaria will take on the Czech Republic in the race for the fifth rank while Russia and Belgium will battle for the seventh place.

Watch Sunday’s matches live and for free at Click here for a live picture gallery of the final weekend.

The Czech Republic v Belgium 3:1 (25-18, 25-22, 19-25, 25-17)

Michaela Mlejnkova led the Czech Republic to a hard-earned 3:1 (25-18, 25-22, 19-25, 25-17) win over Belgium by scoring 22 points for her side; Celine Van Gestel was the top scorer for Belgium with 19 points.
Belgium weren’t in the match at the beginning. Mlejnkova sent down two missiles, putting the Czech Republic 6-2 up and forcing Belgium head coach Julien Van de Vyver to call an early timeout. Celine Van Gestel helped steady the Belgian ship with a couple of decent hits but could not stop the Czechs to set off on another run and they were six points ahead at the second technical break. Belgium offered little resistance after that and the Czech Republic reeled off the last four points – including a block winner by Anna Sucha – to go 1:0 ahead. The young Czech talents served five service winners in the opening set and ran an impressive offense.
Belgium offered more resistance in the second set. Karolina Goliat and Dominika Strumilo delivered some hard spikes, but Mlejnkova and Sucha kept the Czech Republic in front and the Czechs led by three points at the second technical timeout. Pavlina Simanova came up with a couple of sharp serves to confirm Czech Republic’s lead at 22-19. The Belgians did their best to resist but a thumping spike by Pavla Meidlova put the Eastern Europeans 2:0 up. Although the Czechs struggled with their poor service reception they showed an excellent offensive game. Belgium – on the other hand – could not count on the power of their strong middle blocker Sarah Cools.
Although new setter Jutta Van de Vyver helped Belgium bounce back strongly in the third set (25-19), the Belgians eventually could not cope with the power and speed the Czechs displayed in the decisive phase of the match. The team of head coach Ondrej Marek quickly led 16-10 in the fourth frame and never looked back until the final 25-17. 
Czech Republic head coach Ondrej Marek: "We played three friendly matches against Belgium before the Final Round and lost them all. My team wanted to get their revenge and played very well.”
Czech Republic top scorer Michaela Mlejnkova: "It was our best game in this tournament. I think we succeeded because our team realised the importance of this game.”
Belgium head coach Julien Van de Vyver: "We served better than our opponents but had many problems in block and defence. Both teams looked tired but the Czechs managed their game still well. As most of my girls try to become professionals I have no problem motivating them to do their best tomorrow."
Belgium captain Elise Van Sas: "The Czechs played the same style as expected but a lot stronger than in their friendly games against us.”

Bulgaria v Russia 3:2 (25-21, 16-25, 10-25, 25-23, 15-5)

In Saturday’s second clash in Tartu, Bulgaria bounced back strongly to overpower Russia in a five-set thriller 3:2 (25-21, 16-25, 10-25, 25-23, 15-5), keeping their chances for the fifth place at the 2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women alive. Top scorer of the match was Bulgaria’s captain Gergana Dimitrova with 24 points while Russia’s Angelina Sperskaite contributed 15 kills for her side, including two block winners.
Bulgaria, the fourth-ranked team from Pool I, quickly took command of the opening set, committing less mistakes than their contenders from Pool II. Both teams showed solid passing work in the beginning of the match but needed many attempts to score. Bulgaria rallied to a hard-earned 17-10 lead before Russia fought back valiantly to square the score at 18-18 (!). There was not much to separate the two squads until 21-21 when Bulgaria started another effort to close it out. With four consecutive points and a clever block out shot by Dimitrova at 24-21, the young Bulgarians eventually ended the first set in their favor.
However, the tall Russian talents rapidly adapted to the new hall in Tartu. At the first technical break in set No. 2, the team of head coach Petr Kobrin already led by six points. The Russian had gained momentum with better blocking (4-1), sharper serves (3-2) and more power in attack than the nervous Bulgarians. Russia opened the gap to nine points at 21-12 and never looked back until the final 25-16.
The story of the match did not change much in the third set. Russia kept the upper hand in almost all aspects of the game and easily cruised to a 25-10 set win.
However, it was not good enough. Bulgaria bounced back courageously in the fourth set (25-23), turning the tables in a heroic comeback. The players of head coach Petar Dochev finally showed their strong defense and decreased the amount of mistakes in the decisive moments of the match.
Although Russia jumped out for a 4-2 lead in the fifth set, the Bulgarians kept the upper hand and never looked back until the final 15-5. Vangeliya Rachkovska ended it for the happy Bulgarians with a blistering winner from the left side. At the end, Russia had 14 block winners and seven aces on their account but they had committed more mistakes (37-33) as well.
Bulgaria head coach Petar Dochev: "Our head was clear today and we finally showed our potential. I would have wished to see my team playing like this already before. If we manage to play on the same level tomorrow, there is a chance for revenge against the Czech Republic."
Bulgaria captain Gergana Dimitrova: "Today our team proved that we can play good volleyball. This was our best and our most emotional performance in this tournament."
Russia head coach Petr Korbin: "We gave the Bulgarians the possibility to come back in the game in the fourth set and then we lost our self-confidence. We collapsed psychologically and couldn't perform at our best in reception and attack in the end."
Russia captain Angelina Sperskaite: "Our game got nervous at some point and then we lost concentration, Bulgaria was the better team in the end. It was hard for us in this match with our opponents feeling more comfortable in this competition hall while it was new for us."

Match schedule for Sunday:

11:30 Russia v Belgium (classification match 7-8)
14:00 The Czech Republic v Bulgaria (classification match 5-6)
16:30 Turkey v Greece (bronze medal match)
19:00 Serbia v Slovenia (gold medal match)

One week before the men’s U20 national teams will battle for medals in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Estonia and Finland are in the spot light for the prominent CEV event at Tartu’s A. Le Coq Sports Hall that hosted Pool I and Tampere’s Exhibition and Sports Centre featuring Pool II. A total of 38 matches are played during the tournament, running from August 16-24, 2014.

The Preliminary Phase of the 2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women was split into two pools of six teams with the top two from each pool having advanced to the semifinals and the third and fourth ranked teams having made it to the classification matches 5-8.

Picture: Having scored 12 block winners and running a strong offense, the Czech Republic proved too strong for Belgium on Saturday morning.

Click here for more info on the Final Round of the 2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women.

News nr. 7 of 95
23/08/2014 20:00:00
Faultless Serbians and Slovenia move to gold medal match
23/08/2014 10:00:00
Watch the finals of Women’s U19 Euro Champs live

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