Romania close to causing sensation on first day of #EuroVolleyU18W qualifiers
2017 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship - Women
Luxembourg, January 12, 2017. The second round of qualifications to the 2017 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship – Women started on Thursday in Ploiesti and Sofia. Romania were close to claiming a sensational victory over Russia but ended up losing at the tie-break to the countrywomen of the players that won gold in this same age group back in 2015. Bulgaria started their home campaign in Sofia with a 3-1 victory over Austria, which bodes well for the remainder of the tournament. The eventual winners of the eight second-round qualifiers plus the three second-placed teams with the best score will progress to the Finals scheduled for early April in the Dutch city of Arnhem.
Pool E in Ploiesti (ROU)
Russia vs. Romania 3-2 (20-25, 27-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-4)
Romania were close to causing a sensation but ended up losing in five sets their marathon match with pool favourites Russia. Romania came out with all guns blazing, winning the first set but Russia responded by stepping up their efforts in defence, thus forcing the home team to make many mistakes and restoring the balance in the match. Romania cruised to a 16-10 lead in the third set and they eventually took it home at 25-23. Russia got back on track in set four leading the way at both technical time-outs (8-5, 16-10), ultimately cruising to a 25-18 win. The tie-break was one-sided as the home team could not use their chances of causing a sensation and Russia eventually celebrated a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
Pool H in Sofia (BUL)
Austria vs. Bulgaria 1-3 (17-25, 25-27, 25-22, 12-25)
Bulgaria looked extremely confident in the early stages of the match and their setter Plamena Koramenova always took the right decisions to pave the way towards a 25-17 win – team captain Aleksandra Milanova chiefly contributed to this result with five points. The second set followed a completely different plot with Austria’s float serve causing problems to the Bulgarian receivers and the visitors cruising to an 18-11 advantage; though they had such a difficult start to the set, Bulgaria were able to fight their way back and with the help of Milanova they eventually doubled their lead in the match (27-25). Bulgaria broke away after the second technical time-out (20-17) of set 3 but Austria responded to edge ahead at 22-21; Daniela Katz came in from the bench and with her excellent serves, the visitors cruised to a 25-22 win. Bulgaria did not tremble and despite this setback, they resumed playing like a real Volleyball machine; Milanova and Dobrina Hristoskova were on fire and Bulgaria won the fourth set at a canter (25-12).
Strahil Balov, coach of Bulgaria: “My players showed a lot of character winning the second set after trailing by some seven, eight points. We showed the kind of spirit we are known for; however, we relaxed after that and ended up losing the third set. I want to congratulate Austria on their performance in defence and reception, because they were better than we were when it comes to these aspects of the game. However, our mentality was stronger and helped us defeat this tough opponent.”
Aleksandra Milanova, team captain of Bulgaria: “We played really good, especially for this being the first match. Some of us are playing for the national team for the first time and it is normal that they feel some pressure. The Bulgarian teams are known for their character. Mentally we are very strong and we showed this quality in the second set. I can’t say what happened in the third set, maybe we relaxed too much and ended up losing but in the end it all went well.”
Noemi Laureen Oiwoh, player of Austria: “We are motivated to achieve something big here. We always play to win and I hope we can show our best level in the next match.”
Julia Mitter, player of Austria: “The first set was bad for us, but at the beginning of the second we played good and we had a big advantage. I do not know what happened after that but we managed to play better and to win the third, which is the best thing for us from this match. We are always motivated to show our best level and I hope we can do that in the next matches.”
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