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20/04/2013 22:00
Poland and Russia set for a battle of the giants in the grand finale in Laktaši
2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys

Laktaši, Bosnia and Herzegovina, April 20, 2013.  Poland vs. Russia is the big final of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys tomorrow as the two teams stayed unbeaten through their semi final matches in Laktaši today.  The Polish and the Russian machines ran over Finland and Belgium, respectively, in straight sets and set up a battle of the giants for European gold at 20:10 CET on Sunday evening.  Before that, the squads of Pertti Honkanen and Steven Vanmedegael will face each other in a quest for the bronze.
 
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Poland vs. Finland 3:0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-13)
 
68 minutes was all the time that Poland needed to overcome the Finnish resistance in the first semi final in Laktaši.  The team of Wieslaw Czaja maintained a perfect record of 18:0 in sets so far in the tournament after a convincing 3:0 victory over the boys of Pertti Honkanen. Captain Bartosz Bucko impressed with 23 points to become the best scorer of the match.  7 points were sufficient for Niko Kasimir Vuorinen to climb on top of Finland’s scorers’ list.
 
The Bartosz Bucko Show was most attractive in the first set as the Polish captain piled up 11 points.  Finland found no arguments against its strong opponent and lost by 14-25 shaped up by Piotr Badura’s successful spike through the middle for the final point.  The second set was the most disputed one.  The main reason: Poland again.  Its players started making way too many mistakes and gave a chance to Finland to stay in contention almost throughout the set.  After 23-23 however, Poland made sure not to let this one slip away and won the following two rallies to double the score in sets.  In set 3 Wieslaw Czaja’s boys once again showed a superb performance that ended at 25-13 with a spectacular ace by Aleksander Sliwka to mark the start of the Polish celebration.
 
Sebastian Pawlik, assistant coach of Poland: “We are happy because we ensured our place in the final. I think we played very well today. Finland played well too, but we were better. Tomorrow we are playing against a strong opponent, but I think that if we play like we did so far during this tournament we can win.“
 
Pertti Honkanen, head coach of Finland: "We had a key moment in the second set, but we did not take our chance. As the Polish team is very strong they did not give us another chance. It is hard now, but we do not give up. We are focusing on the match tomorrow."
 
Bartosz Bucko, captain of Poland: “I am very happy because we secured a medal. It was a very good match today. We played very well. In the second set our concentration dropped, but we managed to win. Tomorrow we will probably play against Russia. It will be a tough game, but we must fight. I think we can win it.“
 
Sakari Mäkinen, captain of Finland: “Preparation for the match today was not as good as it was for the previous ones, but it is no excuse. Our performance was still bad. I mean we cannot play like this at this level. Some players played well today, but on average our game was on a low level.”
 
Russia vs. Belgium 3:0 (25-11, 25-23, 25-20)
 
A similar story unfolded in the second semi final with the one major difference that the demolition work was concentrated mostly into the first set.  The Russian Bears were able to swallow Belgium in three bytes, but they could have choked on the second and the third.  Captain Victor Poletaev topped the scorers’ chart with 17 points.  Lowie Stuer was the best scorer for Belgium with 11 points.
 
In the way of the Russian machine was not a nice place to be during the first set.  The Belgian team was able to somehow survive and even score 11 points for the 19 minutes of play time.  After this catastrophic first set, however, Steven Vanmedegael’s boys found the strength to stand up to their strong rival.  They stepped up their offensive efforts, their blocking and serving also started to add points to their tally.  Between 5-5 and 22-22 the team of Alexander Karikov could not find a way to step ahead in the score.  With the help of Thomas Konings’ prolific attacks, Belgium was even able to create a 3-point gap at 21-18.  In the end, however it was Russians’ fantastic blocking that made the difference in this set as they closed it at 25-23.  Although now Russia had a huge psychological advantage on its side, Belgium did not surrender.  It continued to put up a fight in the next set.  As Russia also helped with some unforced errors, the Belgians were able to take the lead again, this time with an even more impressive 5-point difference at 12-7.  But soon after it was Nikolai Chepura’s turn to serve for Russia.  With 7 points in a row his team was able to overturn the score from 10-14 to 17-14 and then never looked back.  Victor Poletaev’s powerful attack for 25-20 in the set sent Russia celebrating.
 
Alexander Karikov, head coach of Russia: "It was a very interesting game, better than before when we played against Finland. Belgium has a very interesting team. In the first set they were very nervous and they made a lot of mistakes. The second set was really intense. They were receiving our serves very well, but our block did a good job.  Tomorrow we play against the Polish team.  They have a very strong serve and a strong attack and it will be a very interesting final."
 
Steven Vanmedegael, head coach of Belgium: “We knew it would be difficult. We played as hard as we could. For example, in the second and the third sets we did a good job. Unfortunately, we did not win the second set. We had an advantage of two-three points, but we made some mistakes and therefore they won the set.  But we have to come out of this game with a happy feeling. Tomorrow it is an important game for us because a victory would mean that we go home with a medal.“
 
Maxim Troynin, blocker in the Russian team: "It was a very difficult game. Belgium has a very strong team. We were luckier today and therefore we secured a place in the final. We must be concentrated for the final against Poland tomorrow."
 
Sander Depovere, captain of the Belgium: “The Russian team is very strong. In the first set they overwhelmed us with their serves. Then we started playing better. Our tactical serve did a good job. We played well today, but they were better. In the qualifications we played against Finland and we won. But there are some new players in their team, so it will be a very interesting match tomorrow.”
 
All classification matches tomorrow will be streamed live on LAOLA1.tv here.
 
Click here for more information, including schedule, results, statistics and standings.

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