Györ, Hungary, August 31, 2016. The fourth match day at the 2016 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women started with an unstoppable Serbia that defeated Belarus in straight sets to keep the chances alive for claiming a ticket to the semis on Thursday. It is a goal that the Russian players even have reached following their 3-0 win over hosts Hungary, while Italy destroyed the German dreams to underline their goals and ambitions with a 3-1 victory.
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Serbia-Belarus 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-21)
Belarus did not begin well and trailed 8-1 early on. Belarus responded after the time-out but lost the set easily, 25-13.
As easy as the first set was for Serbia, the second was much harder to win as Belarus woke up and pursued them closely. They went on to lead in the middle of the set, but after the second technical time-out, Serbia got their game together and won the set 25-22.
The third set was also close, but Serbia led by two or three points for the most part and won the match, partially thanks to Jovana Kocic's excellent play. Finally, they had five set balls and took the third, which means Serbia will definitely be playing in Nitra this coming weekend. They took the final set 25-21.
Marijana Boricic, Serbia coach: “This was a very good match for us. I feel it was easier today, but we still have not finished our work. Tomorrow will come the most important match for us against Russia, because they have played the best volleyball here based on the first three matches. I don't know what will happen yet. Today we had good serves and we played very good with the middle blockers.”
Hanna Klimets, Belarus opposite: “I cannot say how I feel. It was a bad game. I am despondent, because we desperately wanted to win, but this was our fourth defeat here.”
Hungary vs. Russia 0-3 (24-26, 10-25, 15-25)
The Hungarians surprised unbeaten Russia in the first set, and had a set ball at 24-23, but in the end, the pool leader in Győr turned the result in their favour to win 26-24.
In the second set, Hungary could not cope with the Russian tempo and they did not score until they were 6-0 down. The situation did not change, as Russia bombarded their opponents with strong serves. Anastasia Stalnaya and Elizaveta Kotova both played very well and the difference continuously grew. Finally Hungary had to be delighted that they scored ten points as they went down 25-10.
In the third set, Hungary's reception was not great and Russia took full advantage. Nevertheless, Hungary were not going to be rolled over and they stood their ground. With this 25-15 set win, Russia secured their place in the weekend’s semi-finals in Nitra.
András Horváth, Hungary coach: “We played freely in the first set, unfortunately in the end we did not risk enough, which was necessary to the win. After this we had lack of self-confidence, but if we had played as we did in the first set, we would have been in the game.”
Maria Vorobyeva, Russia captain: “In the first set we felt a lack of self-confidence, but in the next two sets we really felt our strength and showed our play. Now we have to concentrate on the next match against Serbia.”
Germany vs. Italy 1-3 (19-25, 24-26, 29-27, 16-25)
Germany started the match well as Russia did against Hungary and they led by five points at the first technical time-out. However, the resting helped Italy and they equalised and turned the set around quickly. They led by five points at the second time-out, and eventually won the set 25-19.
Italy continued their great play in the second set and they had a considerable advantage. However, in the middle of the set Germany went closer and picked up the tempo. Germany had two set balls near the end of the set but Italy dealt with them. After 24-24, Italy surged ahead and won 26-24 thanks to Elena Pietrini's ace.
At the beginning of the third set, the game was a little bit frantic, but Italy came out better, and always led by four or five points. At the conclusion of the set Italy upped their game again, but Germany did not give up, they saved four match balls and then surprisingly won the set 29-27.
In the fourth set, Italy braced themselves and won the match confidently, ensuring their qualification for the finals weekend. The question is will they play in the semi-final or just for 5th-8th place? They won the final set 25-16 and their fate will be decided in their final match on Thursday where they take on hosts Hungary.
Jan Lindenmair, Germany coach: “We played very bad. We are not satisfied; the game was open all the time. On one hand, I think we did some good things, but on the other hand, we made too many mistakes.”
Luca Cristofani, Italy coach: “We played very well like we did against Russia, but Germany is not Russia. And then playing this way is enough to win. I congratulate all of my players.”