Serbia routs Portugal to start quest for World Championship spot
2013 FIVB Volleyball Women's U20 World Championship - European Qualification
Subotica, Serbia, May 8, 2013. The hosts of Serbia showed no mercy for their opponents from Portugal as on Wednesday they cruised to a speedy 3:0 win (25-20, 25-9, and 25-6) to open their quest for a ticket to the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship scheduled for late June in Brno and Prostejov. In the other match of the day France had to fight bravely to come back from two sets down and eventually edge their young opponents from Denmark at the tie-break (19-25, 20-25, 25-13, 25-20, and 15-10).
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Serbia dominated the scene with their terrific blocks and Portugal could keep the hosts’ pace only in the first set where the girls mentored by Gilda Harris even moved to the front twice at 16:10 and 18:14. However, after Serbia got back on track to claim the opening set, Portugal was literally routed scoring only 15 points more in the match. Serbia’s middle blocker Mina Popovic and young opposite Tijana Boskovic top scored in the end with 12 points apiece. Serbia out-blocked Portugal 13 vs. 4 and was absolutely dominant also from the serving line with 12 aces vs. 6 for their rivals.
“This was a good start but we had some problems at the beginning, actually quite understandably because this was the first match of the tournament” Serbia’s mentor Ratko Pavlicevic said. “The girls wanted to show their best and as a result made many mistakes. Portugal served well and this surprised us because we were not prepared for that scenario. After we fixed our problems in the final section of the first set everything went easy for us”.
“We showed that we can play good even if we are trailing in the score” team captain Bianka Busa added. “Portugal played good only in the first set and after that everything was just fine for us. I hope we will continue to display the same quality also in the next matches”.
“Serbia is a great team and we knew that even before arriving here. My team is very young and the girls still have to discover their potential. As the first set was over they just stopped playing” Gilda Harris stated. “I agree with what our coach said. We are very young and Serbia, on the other hand, has a strong team. However, we could surprise them in the first set. We still have three more games and hope we can win some” Portugal’s team captain Ana Martins concluded.
In the other match of the day France surprisingly needed five sets to eventually cruise past their opponents from Denmark (19-25, 20-25, 25-13, 25-20, and 15-10). Denmark had even moved up 2:0 in sets but the course of the match changed after France’s team captain Kim Nowak joined the game eventually top scoring with 17 points, well supported by Pauline Martin with 16. Trine Noer Kjelstrup was Denmark’s most prolific player with 16 points.
Denmark started out very aggressively going up right from the start of the opening set (8:7) and by displaying a series of solid blocks widened the margin up to six points by the time the second technical time-out was called (16:10). Trine Kjelstrup pocketed the last point of the set (25-19) while Thit Eiberg Bak finished that section with 4 block kills. Denmark showed good momentum also in set 2 (8:5) before France fought back to draw level at 10 and 11. Once again the girls around head coach Skafte Herskind made the difference with their blocks and good serving and they also profited of France’s many unforced errors to cruise to a 25-20 that shaped up a 2:0 lead in sets.
France came back in set 3 by finally playing their best quickly breaking away in the score (22:9) and with Safiatou Zongo pacing their offense and sealing also the last point for a massive 25-13. The fourth set was full of ups and downs; Denmark was up 8:7, then France moved to the front (11:8). As his side was trailing 17:20, Denmark’s head coach Herskind made a substitution and helped by Nanna Naomi Molgard his side evened the score at 20 all. Still Denmark ran out of fuel and France could call for the tie-break (25-20). The “Bleus” were on a class of their own there and anchored by Kim Nowak went up 13:5, to cash the final 15-10 after a late comeback by the Danes who had reduced the margin to only three points (13:10).
“We won but I am not satisfied” France’s head coach Gael Le Draoulec said. “This is not my team. Maybe we were afraid of winning but you can’t afford this attitude in such important competition. If you are frightened, in the end you will always lose. I hope we will play better in the next matches”.
“As I joined the game I tried to motivate the girls because that was the only chance to reverse the score and win” Kim Nowak added. “Maybe we did not show our best Volleyball but we played with glowing hearts. I hope we can win tomorrow as well”.
“In Denmark Volleyball is not a big sport and we are not used to win, so that’s why we could not finish this game and bring it home” Denmark’s mentor Skafte Herskind stated. “France did not play as good as they can but they improved the quality of their game and deserved to win. We are still satisfied because we won two sets”.
“This result is fine because we played very good in the first two sets. It could have been better but we made many mistakes and we are happy anyway” Denmark’s captain Emma Brix concluded.