Bar, Montenegro, April 6, 2013. Poland will challenge Italy in Sunday’s gold medal match of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls in Bar, Montenegro. 2011 runner-up Italy defeated Serbia in four sets (25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-13) before Poland surprised reigning champions Turkey in a thrilling five-setter (25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 21-25, 15-11). The brave Poles dashed the Turkish dreams for another gold medal after their triumphs at 2011 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls, 2011 FIVB Volleyball Girls' Youth World Championship and 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women. It was a big success for the Pool I teams on Saturday as they all won their decisive duels against their opponents from Pool II.
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Italy vs. Serbia 3:1 (25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-13)
World No. 3 Italy sailed to a hard-fought 3:1 win versus Serbia in Saturday’s first semifinal of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls in Bar, Montenegro. Except from the second set, the young Serbian talents couldn’t hold the pace of the remarkable Italian squad.
Italy’s Anna Nicoletti was the game’s top scorer with 18 points, while Sara Lozo earned 12 points for Serbia. It was well expected today’s first semifinal turned to a point-by-point basis which engaged the crowd with enthusiastic atmosphere. Both sides showed their strong determination in the first set. Serbia experienced the better start but Italy bounced back with sharp serves to draw level at 12-12. Neither one could build a leading advantage until at 21-21 a 4-0 run from Italy with a combination of blocking, hard-spike and service winners from Alice Degradi closed this important and intense opening set in Italy’s favor.
In the second set Serbia adjusted their reception maneuvers and setter Jelena Vignjevic efficiently triggered their 3 main gunners – Sara Lozo, Bojana Milenkovic and Maja Dordevic from all angles. A solid spike by Anna Nicoletti has turned the Italian downward trend, but the improved defense and reception of Serbia helped the East Europeans successfully tie the set score to 1:1. Italy had committed 13 errors in the second set.
Italians were not discouraged by the failure in the second period but instead quickly build a commanding lead at 8-3. On the other hand, their Serbian opponents seem not fully concentrated and incurred several unnecessary errors in reception and attack. Italian libero Marianna Maggipinto's solid defense saved several sharp attacks from both Lozo and Dordevic and Italy continued their upward track until 19-16. A service winner from Sara Bonifacio and two block kills from Anna Danesi gave Italy the 2:1 set lead.
Italy continued their solid performance from the third set and quickly forced Serbia’s head coach Marijana Boricic to request her first timeout at 2-6. The upcoming Serbian stars came back with a more solid show and well-spread attack tactic and closed the gap to 6-8; however, Anastasia Guerra's consecutive hits stopped the upward trend of Serbia and Italy never looked back.
Italy head coach Luca Pieragnoli: “I’m very happy for today’s win as the semifinal match is always a very difficult match to play. I am very satisfied with the game my girls have shown, not only those on the court but also the girls coming in from the bench.”
Italy captain Ofelia Malinov: “This was a very though match as Serbia is known as a very strong team. We were aware that during the match we would have difficult moments, but we were ready to react in an appropriate way.”
Serbia head coach Marijana Boricic: “Italy deserve today’s win. We knew they were playing at a very high level and did our best to stop them. Nevertheless, we are very happy with the qualification for the World Champs in Thailand what our principal aim before the tournament was.”
Serbia captain Jelena Vignjevic: “I think we were not focused enough today. Tomorrow we will do our best to win the match for the third place.”
Turkey vs. Poland 2:3 (23-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-21, 11-15)
Poland overpowered titleholders Turkey in extremis to claim a merited spot for Sunday’s gold medal match of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls. The team of head coach Catma Sahin came back from behind but eventually couldn’t stop exceptional Poland in the fifth and deciding set.
Aroguz Pelin from Turkey scored 23 points and was the top scorer while the Polish best attackers Malwina Smarzek and Magdalena Damaske obtained 20 and 17 points respectively.
Two Polish famous gunners Malwina Smarzek and Magdalena Damaske quickly showed their on-fire momentum with sharp attack from both sides of wings and led their team to a 15-13 advantage in the first set. Titleholder Turkey remained strong in attack and block but was struggling with their poor reception which gave the Poles several points directly. The tight and intense pattern lasted until 23-23 before Damaske ended it with a dexterous spike via the Turkish blockers.
The second set was expected as still very intensive between the two hard fighting teams, but strong serving folks led by Polish Klaudia Grzelak turned the second period into a one-side game. The reigning champions did their best to catch up but couldn’t stop Poland’s impressive show.
Turkey fought back bravely with their tight floor defense and sharp spikes of Rida Erlalelitepe and Pelin Aroguz, which led Turkey to an undisputed 8-4 and 16-9 lead early in the third period. Turkey’s setter Arelya Karasoy stepped up in time to confuse Poland’s defense by fully utilizing spikers from all possible angles. The most important reason for Turkey’s comeback was - however – their better risk management at the net and behind the service line. Turkey took the third set with a six-point advantage.
Sensing an opportunity the young Turks looked to take quick control of the fourth set after the first technical timeout. Turkey showed their huge determination as they performed all-round better. Poland found no way to control Turkish opposite Aroguz crashing their defense. To encouraging applause from the few Turkish supporters, the Turks capitalized on their momentum and took the fourth set 25-21.
Turkey’s offensive errors were massive blows to their morale allowing Poland to bounce back early in the deciding set. The Poles made excellent defensive stops and attacked flawlessly against the Turks. Even though Turkey reduced a six-point deficit to one point at 10-11, it was already too late for a Turkish comeback. An out-of-court smash of Erlalelitepe ended the 128-minute contest in favor of the courageous Poles.
Poland head coach Grzegorz Kosatka: “I’m speechless. I can’t describe my feelings. We feel more than happy. My team showed excellent mental skills today.”
Match schedule for Sunday:
Poland captain Paulina Baldyga: “I’m crying and can’t control my emotions. We are so proud. It was an excellent example for infinite team spirit.”
Turkey head coach Catma Sahin: “Congratulations to Poland. We have to accept today’s defeat. In this age group, there are many ups and downs. Today Poland was a little bit luckier. I’m – however – still very proud of my players.”
Turkey captain Arelya Karasoy: “We made too many simple mistakes in the deciding set. It was enough to give Poland their hopes back.”
Classification matches 5-8:
10:30 Russia vs. Germany (for the 7th place)
13:00 Greece vs. Slovenia (for the 5th place)
Classification matches 1-4:
15:30 Serbia vs. Turkey (for bronze)
18:00 Italy vs. Poland (for gold)
The final ranking of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls 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 seven nations taking part at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht (NED).
The final matches of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls are available live and for free at www.laola1.tv.
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