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18/07/2013 22:00
Russia and Poland go for remake of European Championship final
2013 European Youth Olympic Festival

Utrecht, Netherlands, July 18, 2013. The final game of the boys’ tournament at the 2013 European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht will be a remake of the gold medal match of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship. Russia and Poland will once more cross their ways as they both bested their opponents in the semis, Italy and Turkey, to go for the much awaited final showdown.
Actually things were not that easy for the 2013 European and world champions from Russia who for the very first time since the start of the competition needed five sets to get the upper hand in their semifinal match with Italy (25-19, 22-25, 25-19, 24-26, and 15-13). Russia’s superstar Victor Poletaev amassed 33 points all alone with middle blocker Maxim Troynin adding 17 to the count of the pre-favorites but Italy played superbly with Tiziano Mazzone and Sebastiano Milan contributing 21 and 19 points for their side. After missing out on a spot to compete at this year’s Youth Worlds, Italy will be playing for bronze on Friday for what would be a good way to round out the first international season for the group.  
The 2013 European silver medalists – and bronze medal winners at the FIVB U19 World Champs held only a couple of weeks ago in Mexico – from Poland comfortably claimed their pass to the final match by routing Turkey in three straight sets (25-23, 25-19, and 26-24). The group mentored by head coach Wieslaw Czaja will hence round out an already memorable season with yet another medal from an international competition after the previous generation hadn’t qualified for the 2011 edition of the European Youth Olympic Festival. Artur Szalpuk and Aleksander Sliwka were the most prolific players for Poland with 17 and 14 points respectively, with team captain Bartosz Bucko also finishing the game in double digits (11).

Finland and France will cross their ways in the classification match 5/6 after the “Suomis” could edge Belgium 3:2 (25-22, 25-21, 19-25, 22-25, and 15-10) in what was a remake of the bronze medal game of the European Championship that took place this past April in Laktasi, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sidelined by the absence of a key player who got injured at the World Championship in Mexico, Belgium could nevertheless fight their way back from two sets down before Finland had the upper hand at the tie-break; Sakari Mäkinen recorded 24 points for the Finns while Robbe Van de Weyer finished the game with 21 for the Belgians. France, on the other hand, bested the young “Oranjes” 3:1 (25-14, 22-25, 25-18, and 25-23) to get the right to play for fifth place after the previous generation had claimed bronze two years ago in Trabzon, Turkey. Timothée Carle top scored for France with 18 points well supported by Nohoarii Paofai with 17.    

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