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23/07/2017 22:42
Netherlands keep pace with Italy as Romania take over at the top of Pool II
2017 CEV U16 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Sofia/Samokov, Bulgaria, July 23, 2017. The Netherlands kept in touch with Pool I pacesetters Italy with a resounding win over Denmark in straight sets at Hristo Botev Hall in Sofia, matching the Azzurrine’s own result against Finland hours earlier, with Bulgaria notching their second win of the tournament against Greece. Meanwhile in Pool II, the biggest surprise came as Romania overturned an early deficit to beat Turkey in Samokov and go top of the group, but Belarus and Russia continue to breathe down their necks after victories against Belgium and the Czech Republic respectively.

Pool I (Sofia)

Finland vs. Italy 0-3 (12-25, 12-25, 24-26)

Italy were simply irresistible in the opening game of Day 3 in Sofia, easing aside Finland 3-0 at Hristo Botev Hall. The first two sets epitomised everything good about the Italians’ game in what began as their finest performance so far at the championship, although they were then forced to navigate some stern Finnish resistance in the third set, eventually seeing out the match 3-0. Emma Cagnin was once more impressive with a contribution of 13 points, but the Azzurrine’s finest performer of the previous game against Denmark was slightly overshadowed on this occasion by 15-point leading scorer Sara Cortella.

Italy coach Pasquale D’Aniello was pleased with his side’s display, but conceded that his team must maintain their focus until the game is won, particularly against stronger opposition.  “The first two sets we played really well. We made no mistakes. Then in the third set alone we made 13 mistakes,” D’Aniello said after the match. “Before that we’d only made six errors in the first and six also in the second. This is the key to victory, maintaining our focus. We knew that Finland are a strong team, but we needed to play in the third set as we did in the first two. If we do not do this, it is likely we will have big problems against stronger teams. For us, it is a matter of staying in control of the game mentally, and paying attention to the match from the first point to the very end. But I’m happy that we have three wins from three and I hope that we can stay on course for the semi-finals.”

Finland coach Heikki Kosonen revealed that his side’s third set fightback was down to a shift in tactics, and although his team fell short on this occasion, their third set display will be sure to give them confidence for their remaining matches.
“The first two sets were very difficult. We made some tactical changes in the third set and it worked for us, we found the right combination we needed to play against Italy but it was not quite enough in the end. We made a couple of silly mistakes right at the end of the third set when it looked like we might win it, but I am proud of our girls, they fought really well against a very good team. Our fight in the third set will be important for our confidence going into the final two games and will help us fight for positions five to eight.”

Greece vs. Bulgaria 0-3 (23-25, 15-25, 21-25)

Bulgaria’s match with Greece saw some wonderfully competitive rallies, but Aleksandra Georgieva and her 21-point contribution ultimately gave the hosts the edge as they eased aside the visitors in straight sets. The statisticians credited her with the Player of the Match accolade as well as the most prolific spiker, and she was visibly beaming after the game as the hosts sealed their second win in three matches.

“I’m glad because we played so much better than we have done so far,” Georgieva said in a post-match interview. “We really wanted to win this game and I think we deserved it. We feel so much more confident now with two wins, and we want to keep playing like this over the next games and go as far as we can.”
For the Greeks, there were positives in their standard of service and reception, with Niki Aplada particularly effective when delivering serves to the Bulgarian half, but much progress must be made in terms of cutting out errors and turning positive moments into consistent performances, according to assistant coach Anestis Giannakopoulos.

“We played better than in previous games, but we made more simple errors than we have before,” he explained. “It’s this lack of consistency in our play which makes it difficult to turn flashes of good play into results. But I think our service and reception are two positive points which we can use as a basis for improving our wider game. We can prepare as much as possible but it is all about who turns up in the game, and this is what we need to get right.”

Denmark vs. Netherlands 0-3 (13-25, 21-25, 17-25)

Anna Zijl was the 15-point top scorer as Eelco Beijl’s Netherlands made it three wins from three after a 3-0 disposal of Denmark. Although academic on paper, Beijl’s players had to put on a strong display of serving, reception, spiking and defence to withstand some fierce Danish rallies, but they came through this latest match with flying colours to keep themselves breathing down the necks of Pool I pacesetters Italy.

Jette Kuipers, another strong Oranje performer on the night, was visibly pleased with the performance of her team in an interview after the match. “It was a difficult fight out there tonight, but if everybody does their job on the court properly, we always have the tactical edge. I am confident we can give Italy a good game in the Pool, and I think we are definitely in contention for a medal here, as long as we keep doing what we are doing on the court. The feeling of winning inspires us to keep going and it gives us so much confidence going forward.”

Meanwhile, Denmark coach Mats Olof Björkman conceded that his team were outmatched on the night by what was simply a better side, but praised his team’s never say die attitude.
“I think we played very well against a team who have probably put in their best performance of the tournament tonight. They served very well and played at a fast pace, which we aren’t used to. We did the best we could, we fought back well but their serving was a bit too hot for us to handle. We did our best in these circumstances and the players couldn’t have given me more. That’s the difference. We gave them a good match but they were just better in every department. We can’t be sad about this, we did our jobs as best we could, we just have to shake this off, dust ourselves down and go again against Bulgaria and Finland after the rest day. We are still optimistic and enjoying every game we play.”

Pool II (Samokov)

Russia vs. Czech Republic 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-22)

The ever-reliable Tatiana Kadochkina powered Russia back to winning ways in the first match of the day in Pool II of the EuroVolleyU16W in Samokov. The Russians quickly dismantled the Czechs with a hasty 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-22) shutout to claim their second victory in the competition having fallen to Belarus via tie-break a day earlier. The captain Kadochkina was the highest scorer of the game with an 18-point contribution to Russia’s success, followed by Alexandra Murushkina’s 8-point haul. Kadochkina was the undisputed star of a comfortable first set, before Svetlana Safronova’s side flexed their muscles in the serving-blocking department in the second. The third set triumph was owed much to the work of Libero Valeriia Perova, whose great saves gave Kadochkina and Murushkina the impetus to do their damage, the skipper duly spiking down for match point at the end.

“We endured a really difficult match yesterday against Belarus, so it was important for us to get back to winning ways against the Czech Republic,” Russian team adviser and former player Ekaterina Gamova said after the match. “I’m pleased we managed this victory. The girls believed in themselves and played some great Volleyball. For us it is now important to win our two remaining matches after a day of rest. Our goal is to qualify for the semi-finals in Sofia and compete for the medals. My advice to the girls now would be to work on cutting out their errors. If they don’t make simple mistakes, they will be far stronger going forward.”

Gamova also spared a word for the Russia U20 Women’s team, who were triumphant against Japan and will compete at the final of the FIVB World Championship in Mexico against China. Interestingly, the team playing out in Mexico featured in Samokov two years ago for the group phase of the CEV EuroVolleyU18W in 2015, before going on to win the gold medal in Plovdiv, their first major international title.

“I’m so pleased that last night we managed to defeat Japan in five sets. Now we will play against another very strong team in the shape of China. I wish good luck to our girls and I think that now is the time for this team to win a World Championship. I firmly believe that they can do it!”

Czech coach Ales Novak, meanwhile, was critical of his side’s performance, believing they had not performed to the level of ability of which they are capable. “To play equal Volleyball against such a strong opponent like Russia we must put 100% effort into our performance. We did not manage to play as well as we hoped, and that’s why we lost today.”

Belgium vs. Belarus 2-3 (25-13, 16-25, 9-25, 25-19, 12-15)

Belarus were once more indebted to the performance of Kseniya Liabiodkina, as she led her side to another impressive win in Pool II at Arena Samokov. The young Belarusians defeated Belgium 3-2, their second tie-break win in as many days. Skipper Liabiodkina scored 22 points including the match point, a stunning spike, which tore through the Belgian double block. It was another capital effort from Belgium, for whom Pauline Martin notched 22 points also, but it would not prove enough to stem the momentum of Belarus, who now have three straight wins to remain in the running for the semi-finals.

Belgium gave them a real game though, and after how Yorick Vande Velde’s side played in the first set, they’ll be relieved to have come through this latest test, as Martin viciously targeted Belarus libero Yuliya Hrynevich with a succession of deadly spikes.  That came before Liabiodkina’s intervention, whilst Yana Kazlouskaya shone from the serve line. Viktoryia Tychynina’s error then conceded the fourth set to the Belgians, before the Belarusians held their nerve for another vital win.

Belarus coach Yahor Pimakhin was not only grateful his team snatched the win, but that his team now have a day of rest before taking on fellow Pool II high-flyers Romania. “It was a really difficult match for us, especially after the emotional five-set battle against Russia yesterday,” he said. “Today we played another five sets against Belgium, another strong team. Perhaps we were still feeling the effects of yesterday, and we couldn’t play to our highest level during the whole match. We had problems in reception but we found the right solutions, we showed great fighting spirit and achieved a third victory in a row. It’s a great feeling! Tomorrow we have a free day, and we will have enough time to recover and prepare as best we can for our next match against Romania.”

Belgium coach Yorick Vande Velde lambasted his side’s inconsistency in making certain key errors on court, but maintained that his team could take heart from their performance against one of the in-form teams in Pool II. “Yesterday against Turkey we also played really well. Today we had our moments and were close to winning the match despite losing the third set 9-25,” he said. “Unfortunately, we made a lot of mistakes in our attack and reception. So, every day it’s something else. One day we play well in reception, one day we play badly. It is difficult to explain why this is. Every day we have different problems in our game. But we try to do our best and every time we are preparing for new opposition. Today we won one point and this is good. Maybe if we can win another match and can take a point from Russia or defeat them, we will have a good chance of qualifying for the next round. We keep believing, we keep fighting. This is the only way! If you don’t believe, you can do nothing.”

Romania vs. Turkey 3-1 (18-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-22)

In the final match of the day in Samokov, Romania overturned a one-set deficit to topple Turkey 3-1 and go top of Pool II at EuroVolleyU16W. Alexia Ioana Carutasu was once again the star of a radiant Romanian performance, notching 22 points for the new leaders. Despite a promising start, Romania would fall behind when Bülent Gunes galvanised his players at time-out and the Turks with good serving-blocking won the opening set by 25-18. Sude Hacimustafaoglu was again dangerous in attack for Turkey, while from the serve line Çağla Salih scored three aces. In the second set Turkey set about extending their lead when at 6-3 came a major setback: Melisa Nur Temiz – who had scored six points – was forcibly withdrawn through injury. Romania fought back, Alexia Ioana Carutasu inspiring her side to take the second set and draw level. From there Turkey crumbled, Florina Isabela Murariu putting Romania at match point with a block-out and an ace before her side duly took the spoils and soared to the summit of Pool II, to the delight of head coach Marius Macarie.

“This is a really important win for us,” he said. “We lost the first set but after that we played better and better and achieved a great victory. Maybe the deciding moment was the third set. I made some changes with the position of our opposite and it helped us to win. Our next opponent is Belarus. What can I say? They are a strong team, which play really well in defence. It will be hard for sure but we will be ready for them.”

Another Macarie, Romania’s libero Ilinca, was another member of the camp visibly pleased at full-time after her side achieved their third consecutive win. “I’m feeling so emotional! The whole team is so happy because we didn’t expect this,” she said beaming after the match. “We played against Turkey two times at the Balkan championship earlier this month and we won one of the matches 3-0, but here it was a different situation. Of course, I want to say big ‘Thank you!’ to our parents and friends, our amazing crowd here, who helped us a lot. They support us during all our matches and it’s fantastic. Without them maybe this would not be possible.”

Turkey coach Bülent Gunes was in a reflective mood at full-time, refusing to shoulder the blame onto the injury of Nur Temiz but rather highlighting the errors his side made which proved costly on the night.
“We made 24 errors from the serve line compared to just nine from our opponent,” he explained. “This had a serious effect on us and we couldn’t manage to turn back the game. Now we have two matches which means we must take six points. This is our goal now and we want to achieve it. Of course, I want to congratulate Romania on their win. They gave us a real game today.”

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News nr. 7 of 22
25/07/2017 11:40:00
Zijl and Kuipers shining brightest in Oranje masterclass
22/07/2017 23:08:00
Italy and Belarus soar to the top of the Pools whilst hosts get off the mark

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