Slovakia celebrate 3-2 win over Slovenia in first round of #EuroLeagueW semis
2016 CEV Volleyball European League - Women
Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 22, 2016. After winning all of their six matches in the pool stage of the 2016 CEV Volleyball European League – Women, Slovenia lost the first round of the semis with rookies Slovakia at Stožice Hall. On Wednesday night Slovakia claimed the victory at the tie-break, thereby ending Slovenia’s winning streak in the competition (25-16, 18-25, 24-26, 25-17, 15-12). The re-match will now follow on Sunday, June 26 in Bratislava.
Some effective serves and good defence by Slovakia and some mistakes in attack as well as a shaky performance in reception on the Slovenian side of the net contributed to an early 5-0 lead for the Slovaks. Slovenia found their way back into the match, but good serving proved to be the main advantage of the Slovakian team on the way to a relatively comfortable set win (25-16).
The start of the second set followed the same plot, only the leader changed. Slovenia started by claiming a 3-0 lead but Slovakia levelled the score at 4-all almost in no time. The spectators witnessed a close race with a slight lead for the home team. Some good defence and effective attacks by the Slovenians eventually led to a 25-18 win for the home side.
A point-by-point race continued at the beginning of the third set, when both teams delivered a very solid performance. They continued in the same way throughout the whole set which resulted in a rather tight and nervous ‘crunch time’, with the teams exchanging the lead back and forth. The Slovenian girls were more focussed in the end and won the set 26-24.
The crowd at Stožice Hall finally woke up in the fourth set and cheered the home team on with much energy and passion. The Slovenian players responded with good play at the net and edged ahead by one point or two, but Slovakia managed to close the gap and claimed an 8-5 lead at the first technical time-out. The visitors took the initiative, delivering some effective blocking and serving. Some easy mistakes on the Slovenian side helped their opponents cruise to an easy win (25-17).
In the fifth and decisive set Slovakia took the initiative right from the start. A time-out asked by the Slovenian coaching staff helped the home team regroup and point by point the hosts fought back levelling the score at 7-all and 9-all. Nevertheless, Slovakia proved to be stronger in the final stages and managed to claim an important win (15-12).
Slovenia head coach Bruno Najdič: “In today’s match we made the highest number of mistakes so far in the European League. We also had the worst reception and serve, which were our strongest weapons up until now. We made too many mistakes in attack, and all this combined together decided the outcome of the match.”
Slovenia setter Mojca Božič: “We are glad that there is still one match ahead of us. It is too bad that we didn’t use the opportunities we had tonight. We also made too many mistakes in the decisive moments. But it is what it is, we have to calm down now and prepare well for the re-match.”
Slovakia coach Marek Rojko: “Playing a real match is totally different than playing friendlies. This match was full of emotions. I am really happy that we managed to win all tie-breaks so far in the league and I am especially happy that we managed to come back into the game after losing the third set. We fought hard and claimed an important victory.”
Slovakia team captain Jaroslava Pencova: “Matches between these two teams are always tight and small details decide about the final result. We put a lot of emotions into this match, we really played like a team and at the end we were a bit lucky as well.”
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