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14/01/2017 22:55
Many exciting matches to decide winners of tickets to #EuroVolleyU19M Finals!
2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship - Men

Luxembourg, January 14, 2017. Though Poland, France and Russia look like the dominant forces in their respective pools, Volleyball fans can expect a number of exciting and close matches on Sunday to determine the eventual winners of the eight second-round qualifiers to the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Men taking place this weekend. Serbia vs. Turkey, Germany vs. Italy, Bulgaria vs. Belarus, and Finland vs. Austria are only four of the many highlights fans can already look forward to! On Sunday night, the eventual pool winners and the two second-placed teams with the best score will book a ticket to Györ (Hungary) and Puchov (Slovakia) where the Final Round will be taking place in late April.

Pool A in Spała (POL)

Poland are two sets away from securing a spot in the Final Round after a 3-0 win (26-24, 25-11, 25-20) against Latvia. The visitors confirmed their reputation and fighting spirit in the first set, going strong with as much as three points of advantage on Poland, but the hosts kept their cool and won the set 26-24 after a captivating finish. In the second set, the White-and-Reds utilised superb blocking and serving to crush the Latvian side 25-11 and did not let themselves carried away in set three, arriving steadily at another flawless win.

After their unexpected loss to Latvia on Friday, the Czech players showed great determination in their match against Sweden, winning in three quick sets (25-11, 25-17, 25-16). The match was a one-sided show as the Czech Republic’s physical advantage trumped their rivals’ ambition – especially in set no. 1, which saw the Scandinavian team lose 11-25. The results of the two subsequent sets were not as dramatic, but the Czech Republic still ruled the court with decisive 25-17 and 25-16 wins.

Pool B in Argos (GRE)

In a completely new situation in Pool B after the results of day 2, qualification is down to the very last match of the tournament in the Greek city of Argos. Vastly improved compared to the opening day, Russia demolished Israel 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-19) on the back of Stanislav Antonov’s 21 points - including 17/32 for 53% in attacking to counter Israel’s continuing defending prowess. The five-time U19 European champions kept the pressure up the service line, scoring six aces to one, to remain the only undefeated team in the pool after two matches. “The match was easier than yesterday, but I have to say that Israel are a very tough team,” said Russia coach Andrey Nozdrin. “Still, I am satisfied with my players.”

Hosts Greece rebounded after a first day disaster to crush Spain 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-19) and get back on track in the quest for a ticket to the final phase. Alexandros Raptis scored 17 points, with Froixos Kotsakis, Georgios Papalexiou and Konstantinos Kapetanidis adding another 10 each, as Greece proved more efficient in attacking and receiving. “We wanted this win so much because of yesterday’s defeat,” said Papalexiou, who had 7/10 for 70% and 3 blocks from the middle, after the game. “Russia remain the favourites, but we’ll give it our all for another good performance.”

Pool C in Balikesir (TUR)

Serbia extended their winning streak in Balikesir as they easily claimed their second matchup of the weekend, routing Montenegro 3-0 (25-20, 25-8, 25-19). The first set was actually quite competitive before Serbia emerged victorious at 25-20. The second, on the other hand, was really one-sided and ended in a landslide 25-8 win for Serbia. Serbia stayed in control from start to end of the third set as well (8-3, 16-12) and eventually closed the match at 25-19 with Stanislav Paunovic top scoring with 15 points.  

Stefan Radevic, team captain of Montenegro: “We did not play as good as we can and we still feel tired because of the long journey to Turkey. We tried to do our best but it was not enough to win the game. We will be trying to do our best in our last match with the Netherlands.”
Bosko Macuzic, coach of Serbia: “We had good reception and our service was good too. I think we played a very good game and hope we can do the same tomorrow. Turkey, however, are much stronger than Montenegro but I think we do stand a chance of winning that one too.”
Nikola Meljanac, team captain of Serbia: “It is our second victory and it was an easy one, especially in the second set. Tomorrow we will have a difficult match with Turkey, which I expect can last for four or five sets. Turkey have a very good team but we will be doing our best.”

Later in the evening, Turkey cruised to a 3-1 victory (24-26, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19) over the Netherlands to get the right to challenge Serbia for first place in the pool. Turkey tried to set the tempo of the game right from the start but the Netherlands were up to the task, used Turkey’s mistakes to their advantage and in the end the visitors claimed a 26-24 win. The second set was a close affair too, but this time Turkey emerged victorious at 25-23. Turkey were the ones to smile at the end of the third and fourth sets too, with their superstar Adis Lagumdzija top scoring with 25 points.

Dutch captain Noah van Dam said: “We played a good match, this was a great fight. It is sad that we lost. We played a good first set and won it. We knew their weaknesses and used them to our advantage. They played really well in the second set and we lost it by two points only. It was unlucky that one of our best players, middle blocker Cas Abraham, got injured and I hope he ca play tomorrow.”
Dutch coach Arnold van Ree: “It was a very high-level match for players of this age. I have to congratulate both teams, really. The atmosphere was good too, and you could feel the fans enjoyed the game; however, the result is not the one we wanted but I can’t blame any of my guys for it.”

Turkey captain Onur Cukur: “It was a difficult match, and the Netherlands have one of the best teams in this age group. We fought well, especially in the last set where we felt like warriors. They forced us to play better and better and this is what this competition is about, in my opinion! Tomorrow we have a tough match with Serbia; they are a good team but I want to beat them because our goal is to compete at the European Championship.”
Turkey coach Ali Ümit Hizal: “We knew this was going to be a difficult match and it was hard to lose the first set. However, we succeeded in winning the next three and the match. Tomorrow we play Serbia, and they are a good team. I am sure my players will give it all to win.”
Pool D in St. Jean d’Illac (FRA)

Switzerland claimed a 3-2 victory (17-25, 15-25, 25-21, 25-17, 15-9) over Slovenia, doing so after coming back from two sets down to open the programme of the second competition day. Slovenia set the pace in the early stages of the match with Bor Jese Rotar, who put pressure on his opponents from the service line to get to an eight-point lead. Slovenia kept control of the game until the end of the second set. The third set was close up to 18-18 when Switzerland’s blocking and serving changed the course of the match. Switzerland thrashed Slovenia in the fourth and fifth sets and celebrated a “tough victory” said their head coach Marco Fölmli. “It was a difficult match but we managed to regroup and improve, especially in reception. Such a boost of confidence helped us and we put more and more pressure on our opponents.”

Later in the evening, France celebrated a second victory in Saint Jean d’Illac. Some 1,000 fans came to support the young ‘Bleus’ like the day before; their start was not as good as in the previous match as France lost the opening set 20-25, but they regrouped to impose their game by showing good serving and spiking, courtesy of Rémi Bassereau (top scorer with 15 points) and Pierre Derouillon (14). France ultimately secured a 3-1 win (20-25, 25-17, 25-9, 25-20) over Estonia. At the end of the match, head coach Slimane Belmadi was “proud of my players because after the easily won of the third set (25-9), they kept their fighting spirit through to the end. They played smart, alternating floating and strong serves and Estonia started faltering in reception.”

Pool E in Ploiesti (ROU)

Belgium rallied to a comprehensive 3-0 victory (25-17, 25-13, 25-22) in their matchup with Portugal on Saturday. Belgium coach Mieke Moyaert said: “My team did a very good job. We had a good game plan and my players executed it perfectly in the first and second sets. They were a bit nervous in the third one because they knew it was important to take three points from this match. We want to make it to the Final Round, as the winners of the pool or one of the best second placed teams.” Belgium produced a real show of strength in the first set (25-17) and even though Portugal looked determined to put up a fight, they could do so only for half of the second set. Belgium claimed a six-point advantage at the second technical time-out and eventually won the set 25-13. The third was very close, but Belgium came out on top at 25-22 with Mathijs Desmet top scoring with 17 points as Andre Marques paced Portugal with 12. Portugal coach Ricardo Rocha said: “We did not play that well today. We did not serve and we did not receive good, especially in the first and second sets and without good reception it becomes difficult to win against a team like Belgium.”

Romania completed Saturday’s programme in Ploiesti with a comprehensive 3-0 (25-14, 25-6, 25-10) victory over Iceland. Radu Pop scored 11 times for the winners – as Vlad Curuia-Pop recorded 10, with Bela Bartha chipping in with nine. Atli Fannar Petursson, Örn Jonsson and Kjartan Oli Kristinsson scored four times each for Iceland. “We want to make it to the Final Round and therefore my players executed the plan we had agreed upon before the match,” said Romania coach Stelian Ghitun. “We know we have to play our best in each match because otherwise you do not know how this would end. We have to remain focussed for the last match.”
“We are a very small country and we cannot fight at the same level of the nations that are working better than us. Romania have a good team with strong players,” said Iceland coach Eduardo Berenguer Herrero.

Pool F in Friedrichshafen (GER)

Germany and Italy will meet in a ‘grand finale’ on Sunday after both teams managed to claim also their second matches in an impressive way to stay on top of Pool F. Germany took advantage from their attack (67% of success rate) and outstanding service (10 aces) to cruise to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-10, 25-18) victory over Ukraine. Best player was German outside spiker Linus Weber who scored 12 points. “It was a good win for us that gives us a good feeling for tomorrow. We need to reduce our mistakes and should not give Italy the chance to score easy points,” Weber said. Germany coach Matus Kalny added: “Italy has a strong defence, but our attack and service is at the same level.”

The last act of the day was performed by Italy and Croatia – and the match ended in a 3-0 victory (25-18, 25-13, 25-21) for the Azzurrini. The players of Mario Barbiero dominated Croatia in front of their idol Andrea Giani, who had come to watch both games in the ZF Arena on Saturday, with great block action (10 stuffs) and a much stronger attack (57% vs. 34%). Italian outside spiker Marcorocco Panciocco was the best scorer of the match with 16 points. “Germany is a team with strong players. We played two times against each other so far and lost one match. Both teams have a good attack and service, but I hope that our defence will make the difference on Sunday,” said Italian coach Mario Barbiero.

Pool G in Sofia (BUL)

Bulgaria easily claimed their matchup with rookies Georgia (25-14, 25-11, 25-16) to keep a perfect record in the tournament they are contesting on home soil. Svetoslav Ivanov was just unstoppable and chiefly contributed to Bulgaria’s 25-14 win in the opening set. The young ‘Lions’ continued their show in the second as well (25-11) as Petar Shojkov was their most effective player from the service line. The course of the game did not change in the third set with Bulgaria ultimately rallying to a comfortable 25-16 and 3-0 victory.
Georgi Petrov, player of Bulgaria: “It was really difficult to find the right motivation for this match. Though I respect Georgia, they are not at our level. We did not show our best performance because we wanted to save some energy for tomorrow’s match with Belarus, as they have a strong team. We all want to finish first in this pool and qualify for the Final Round of the European Championship.” Daviti Chachua, player of Georgia: “Bulgaria have a lot more experience than us and this is why we lost.”

The last match of the day in Sofia ended in a 3-2 victory for Belarus over Denmark (23-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-18, 15-7). Denmark team captain Tobias Hougs Kjær set the tone for the Scandinavian team scoring seven points, including four aces, along the way to a 25-23 win in the first set. The battle continued in the second with Denmark coming out on top again at 25-23. Though they trailed 0-2, Belarus improved their performance in the third set and cruised to a 25-16 win. They continued to play in the same way also in the fourth (25-18) and completed their comeback in the fifth (15-8), thus celebrating a 3-2 victory in the end.
“This is a good result, I think!” said Belarus libero Kiryl Yunitski. “We did not play our best in the first and second sets but we did not stop believing in our chances. We improved our reception, blocking and attack and completed a great comeback.” Team captain Kanstantsin Tsiushkevich added: “Our reception was not so good in the first and second sets, but we were able to improve for the remainder of the match. We remained focussed even after a shaky start and this was the key to our victory.”

Pool H in Amstetten (AUT)  

On Saturday, Finland celebrated a comfortable 3-0 victory (25-19, 25-17, 25-15) victory over Norway in Amstetten. On Sunday afternoon, Austria and Finland will lock horns to fight for first place in the pool. The winner of this match will make it to the Final Round of the European Championship taking place in late April in Hungary and Slovakia. However, the losers still can qualify as well if they end up being one of the two second placed teams progressing to the Finals.

Nebojsa Duric, head coach of Norway: “We expected a very tough opponent, so we went into the game with the knowledge that we had nothing to lose. Anyway, until the middle of each set we were able to keep up with their pace. However, after that Finland showed their real power. Regardless of this, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the awesome organisation of this tournament. It was just perfect.”
Pertti Honkanen, head coach of Finland: “We started very nervously. After that, we found our way into the match and could solve some difficult situations. I am particularly satisfied with our blocking game and defence. We want to improve our game for the matchup with Austria. At the end you always get, what you deserve.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

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