Turkey end Italy’s winning streak at #FIVBWomensU23 qualifier
2017 FIVB U23 Women's Volleyball World Championships - European Qualification
Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia, July 29, 2016. On Friday Turkey cruised to a 3-1 win over Italy to redeem themselves after the setback they had suffered on Thursday night in their matchup with Poland and end Italy’s winning streak at the European qualifier for next year’s FIVB U23 Women’s World Championship. Bulgaria had opened the programme of the third day of action routing Croatia in three sets to claim their second victory in Vrnjačka Banja and remain in contention for a spot to compete at the major highlight that will be taking place next year in Slovenia. Later in the afternoon Poland routed Serbia in three sets to improve their win-loss record to 2-1 as well. The eventual winners and runners-up of the single round robin tournament will qualify for next year’s World Championship.
Bulgaria vs. Croatia 3-0 (25-11, 25-12, 28-26)
After edging Serbia at the tie-break on Wednesday and losing in five sets to Italy on Thursday, Bulgaria took three points from their matchup with Croatia. Everything went just easy for Bulgaria with the only exception being the third set where Croatia put extra pressure on the players in green shirts by means of their good serve. The score was levelled at 17-all and after that a close and dramatic race started. Ema Strunjak served some pretty nice balls and helped Croatia edge ahead (20-17). Bulgaria, however, stormed back to tie the score again but this did not prevent Croatia from piling up two set points (24-22); still Bulgaria came back again and eventually finished it all off in three sets.
Bulgaria star player and top scorer (17 points) Gergana Dimitrova looked very happy after the match: “It wasn’t easy, especially in the third set. We know how to play, but when we are leading comfortably, we always end up losing our focus and this is exactly where we start having problems.”
Bulgaria coach Nikolay Ivanov said Croatia showed some really good serves: “The final result, 3-0, may let people think it was an easy ride, but it wasn’t. Towards the end of the third set we organised our block and defence in the best way and that led us to this victory.”
Croatia coach Miroslav Aksentijević stressed that his team is still unexperienced: “We had some chances and we didn’t use them. We need to get more experience from playing tournaments like this one.”
Serbia vs. Poland 0-3 (20-25, 23-25, 11-25)
Hosts Serbia could not stop Poland and prevent their opponents from claiming a second straight win in Vrnjačka Banja. The Serbian players enjoyed the loud support of a partisan home crowd and had some chances in the first and second sets, but they were completely routed in the third one.
Bojana Milenković, who top scored for Serbia with 14 points, said: “We always play to win but this time we could not achieve our goal. We were not focussed at all and in the third set we were completely destroyed also from a psychological standpoint. However, this tournament is not yet over for us. Team Poland played a perfect match today.”
Poland team captain Julia Twardowska said: “Once again, as we did yesterday with Turkey, we played as a team. We are getting better and better with each match and that is great. We put pressure on Serbia from the beginning of the match and this helped us to win. Of course the victory we claimed in the match with Turkey last night gave us a huge boost of confidence.”
Serbia coach Marijana Boričić: “I am disappointed. Poland is better than us and I have to say that the problems for us do not stop arising. Natasa Cikiriz fell ill before this match and it was obvious that she could not play her best.”
Poland coach Waldemar Kawka: “I am very satisfied. We showed all of our strengths, and we did so especially in the third set.”
Turkey vs. Italy 3-1 (25-22, 26-28, 25-18, 25-15)
Italy played with a lot of courage in the second set to make up for an early setback but the ‘Azzurrine’ eventually collapsed in the fourth where Turkey stamped a massive 10-1 run to seal their victory in the match. Italy continued to make mistakes and as a result everything went just easy for Turkey that took three points from this clash.
Turkey coach Ferhat Akbaş was very short in his statement: “Yesterday I was very angry with my players, but today I have to congratulate all of them.”
Hande Baladin led Turkey to a very important victory scoring as many as 20 points: “They [Italy] are younger than us, but they really know how to put on a fight. We tried to show our best from the beginning till the end and I think we succeed in doing this. Tomorrow, we play an important match against Serbia and we have to quickly forget this match if we want to deliver another top performance.”
Italy coach Luca Cristofani wasn’t satisfied at all: “I do not know what to say. We did not play well and the result is the consequence of it.”
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