Plovdiv, Bulgaria, September 9, 2016. Two dramatic five-setters determined the teams that will play in Saturday’s fifth-place final at the 2016 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship – Men. First, Germany claimed a 3-2 (26-28, 25-21, 18-25, 25-17, 15-7) victory over Serbia to open the penultimate competition day in Plovdiv. Then, the home fans at the Kolodruma competition hall were disappointed by the Turkish squad, which outlasted Bulgaria for a 3-2 (19-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-14, 15-11) win. An all-Balkan clash between Serbia and Bulgaria at 10:00 local time on Saturday will determine who ends up seventh. The fifth-place final between Germany and Serbia will start no earlier than 12:30 local time.
Click here for a live photo gallery from the last two competition days in Plovdiv.
Germany vs. Serbia 3-2 (26-28, 25-21, 18-25, 25-17, 15-7)
In the first set Serbia managed to cancel the six-point lead Germany had at 17-11 and tie the score at 22-22. The set went into overtime and, after missing out on their first three set points, the Serbs converted their fourth to a 28-26 win. It was Germany’s turn to play catch up after trailing 8-11 to Serbia in the second set. The Germans dominated in the money time to win by 25-21. Set 3 was very even through 17-17, after which Serbia made a fantastic 8-1 run to win it by 25-18. Stepping up their spiking and serving efforts, coach Johan Verstappen’s players established complete domination in the next two sets and won each of them with an eight-point difference – 25-17, 15-7 – to claim the victory.
Corbin Balster contributed 24 points to Germany’s win to become the game’s top scorer. His teammate Egor Bogachev and Serbia’s David Mehic tallied 23 each.
Egor Bogachev, player of Germany: “We did a great job especially in defence and we played on the maximum level in order to win. We are happy that we have a chance to finish in fifth place. We do not care who we are going to face tomorrow.”
Johan Verstappen, coach of Germany: “We are happy that we won, but in the first set we made all the errors we did not need to make. In the second set we improved our game and we won at the end.”
Aleksandar Perisic, player of Serbia: “We tried to fight during the whole match. We started well and we led in the sets during the game, but we had too many ups and downs. Maybe we needed to be more concentrated in the fourth set and in the tie-break. Now we must think about our next match tomorrow and I hope to win.”
Vladimir Vasovic, coach of Serbia: “We deservedly lost today. We had an advantage in the sets, but in the tie-break we did not play well. We made too many unforced mistakes and Germany managed to beat us. Tomorrow will be our last match here and I hope to finish this championship with a victory.”
Dominating mainly with their blocks, Bulgaria maintained control throughout the first set and cruised to a 25-19 win. In the second set the home guys were able to recover from a seven-point deficit at 20-13 for Turkey to tie it at 23-23, but their momentum did not go far enough for a complete U-turn and Turkey took the set at 26-24. However, the momentum spilled over into the third set and Bulgaria quickly broke away with a five-point lead. The Turkish serves put some pressure on the opponents, but only to get as close as a point behind. With Radoslav Parapunov at 100% in attack, coach Vladimir Nikolov’s players pulled away again towards a 25-19 win. It was all Turkey after 9-9 in the fourth set. Coach Mehmet Bedestenloglu’s crushed Bulgaria by 25-14 to prompt a tie-breaker. With substitute Berkay Bayraktar on fire, the Turks stepped forward towards a comfortable 15-11 win in the fifth set.
With 21 points for Bulgaria, Radoslav Parapunov was the best scorer of the match. Plamen Shekerdzhiev scored another 12, as many as Turkey’s most prolific player Burakhan Tosun.
Aleks Grozdanov, player of Bulgaria: “We lost concentration in crucial moments and played poorly in the end. We were motivated to give our best and I do not think we underestimated the situation when we had a 2-1 lead. We will give our best against Serbia and we hope to win.”
Vladimir Nikolov, coach of Bulgaria: “We played a game of ups and downs. Practically after the third set we stopped playing. Our figures in the fourth and the fifth sets were tragic. In these two sets we had only one block. Our reception was at very low level. This is not the real face of our team. I hope that tomorrow we will be able to show our abilities and finish the tournament with a good game.”
Abdullah Cam, player of Turkey: “Even when we played like we did, not reaching our best level, we managed to win in the end and to show that we are a good team.”
Adis Lagumdzija, player of Turkey: “We played badly today. Only in the last two sets we started to play much better. Everybody was tired from the trip yesterday. We played in a different hall, under different lighting and we had a new atmosphere here with a lot of fans. But we won and we showed that we are a good team, which never gives up. Germany are a good team, but our goal is the fifth place.”
Mehmet Bedestenloglu, coach of Turkey: “We won, but we did not play well. This hall is absolutely different from the one in Varna. The lights are much different and for us it was difficult to adapt. It will be another difficult match tomorrow against Germany. On the last day of this championship everybody is tired - the players, the staff. I hope to play better and win.”
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