“Squadra azzurra” makes impressive comeback versus Poland
2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Girls
Bar, Montenegro, March 31, 2013. After the second competition day in Bar, 2011 runner-up Italy remains the sole unbeaten team in Pool I. Two sets down against Poland, the South Europeans made a remarkable comeback. Slovenia (3:1 triumph over the Czech Republic) and Greece (3:1 victory versus host Montenegro) booked their first wins at 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Girls.
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Italy vs. Poland 3:2 (25-27, 16-25, 25-16, 25-23, 15-6)
In today’s first Pool I duel, Italy made an impressive comeback against Poland. Trailing 0:2, the young Italian talents bounced back valiantly to leave the court after 141 minutes (!) as winners. Anna Nicoletti led Italy with 24 points, whilst Malwina Smarzek scored 18 times for Poland.
There was not much to separate the two teams in the early stages of the match. 2011 runner-up Italy was a little bit stronger in passing and spiking, whilst Poland dominated blocking and serving. At 24-22, the “squadra azzurra” had two set balls, but couldn’t conclude. The East Europeans fired back with a successful Magdalena Damaske attack and two block kills. After 31 minutes, Damaske added an ace to her personal account to offer Poland a hard-earned 1:0 set lead. Italy committed 13 errors in the opening set.
Poland’s comeback at the end of the first period was the first key moment of the match. Grzegorz Kosatka’s squad gained momentum, whilst the young Italians had a hard time. Neither at the net nor behind the service line the Pieragnoli team found their habitual rhythm. On the other side, Poland set the pace with exemplary fighting spirit.
It needed several substitutions on Italy’s side to change the run of events. Especially second setter Carlotta Cambi gave the South Europeans new hope. Italy turned the tables in the middle of the third set what was definitely the second pivotal moment of today’s duel. In the fifth and deciding set, Italy continued their winning streak and never looked back (15-6).
Italy head coach Luca Pieragnoli: “During the first two sets we did not play at the level we use to do. The Polish team looked much fresher. I’m happy that we finally came back strongly.”
The Czech Republic vs. Slovenia 1:3 (25-19, 13-25, 13-25, 24-26)
Italy captain Ofelia Malinov: “We are very happy because we won a quite difficult match, especially after losing the first two sets.”
Poland head coach Grzegorz Kosatka: “Even though we have lost this match; we gave our best and fought till the end. Italy is a very strong team and it was hard to beat them. We’ll try to recover quickly, physically and mentally, to be back on duty tomorrow.”
Poland captain Paulina Baldyga: “We are very sad and disappointed. It hurts, but we need to forget it as soon as possible and prepare ourselves for the next match.”
Slovenia proved too strong for the Czech Republic. The upcoming Slovenian stars defeated the Czech Republic in today’s second Pool I match 3:1, thus putting their records to 1:1. Best scorer of the match was Slovenia’s Anita Sobocan with 20 points. The young Slovenians needed some time to start their engines. After their 2:3 loss versus Poland the day before, the team of head coach Joze Casar seemed anxious at the start of their important duel versus the Czech Republic. On the other hand, the young Czech talents promptly benefited from the weak Slovenian service reception. Six service winners and four block kills were the direct consequence of Slovenia’s instability.
Nevertheless, in the second and third set, the favorites from Slovenia restored order. They served much better, improved their combinations at the net and made less mistakes in attack. As a result, Slovenia literally outclassed their opponents in set two and three (25-13, 25-13). Even though the Czech Republic showed more resistance in the fourth set, their hopes for a win gradually vanished into thin air. Five consecutive points from 18-22 to 23-22 were finally not good enough to conclude. Katja Mihevic ended the set and match in Slovenia’s favor with a well-timed service winner.
The Czech Republic head coach Leos Chalupa: “We lost because we committed too many mistakes and our reception was not on an appropriate level. Our next match versus Greece will be our last chance to finish fourth in the pool.”
Greece vs. Montenegro 3:1 (25-23, 14-25, 25-20, 25-10)
The Czech Republic captain Pavlina Simanova: “I am more than disappointed. We started quite well and won the first set but our reception failed during the second set.”
Slovenia head coach Joze Casar: “We played very well during the second and third set. We knew that the fourth set was going to be very hard to play, but we were focused on winning. Regarding tomorrow’s match against Italy there is nothing to lose. We played well versus Poland; we can do the same against Italy.”
Slovenia captain Eva Mori: “We lost versus the Czech Republic in December last year; consequently we really wanted to show them that we are the better team now. I’m happy we managed to pull through.”
Apparently Greece have recovered well from their straight-set defeat versus Italy the day before as the upcoming Greek talents overpowered host Montenegro in four sets tonight. Although the host played an almost perfect second set, they were not persistent enough to bother their opponents from Greece throughout the entire match. Best scorer of the match was Greek captain Olga Strantzali with 24 points.
Compared to Saturday’s duel versus tournament favorites Italy, Greece felt much more pressure tonight. Dimitrios Floros’ squad needed a three-point win versus Montenegro to keep their hopes alive for a possible final eight spot.
Both teams experienced many ups and downs in the first set. It was finally Greek Alexandra Psoma who concluded the first period with a powerful service winner. However, the Montenegrin reaction came prompt. The team of head coach Marko Radusinovic displayed all its strength in the second set. The host literally outshined their rivals with excellent block work and clever defense tactics. But it was not good enough. Greece bounced back fearlessly in the third and fourth set, progressively dashing Montenegro’s hopes for an eventual comeback.
Greece captain Olga Strantzali: “We felt more pressure today. In the second set, we struggled with service reception, but fortunately managed to recover in the third and fourth period.”
Montenegro captain Marija Donovic: “We need to play more relaxed. We still commit too many mistakes, especially in service reception and serving.”
The Preliminary Phase of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls is split into two pools of six teams with the top two from each pool advancing to the semifinals. Pool I comprises host Montenegro, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, the Czech Republic as well as Poland. Pool II sees the local heroines from Serbia defending their reputations versus Russia, Germany, France, Turkey and the Netherlands.
The final ranking of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls will determine the six teams representing Europe at this year’s FIVB Girls' Youth World Championship coming up later this summer in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, as well as the eight nations taking part at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht (NED).
The matches of preliminary Pool I as well as all semi-final and final matches are available live and for free at www.laola1.tv. On the other hand, all matches of Pool II are streamed on the official website of the Volleyball Federation of Serbia and namely under the following URL: http://eng.ossrb.org.
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