Poland moves on to Final Round, Slovenia eyes spot in third stage of qualifications
2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men
Ljubljana, Slovenia, May 24, 2014. On Saturday the Slovenian men’s national team again tested the nerves of its supporters as it played another five-set match in Pool A of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship – 2nd Round Qualifier. This time Slovenia edged past the F.Y.R of Macedonia by 3:2 (24-26, 25-20, 14-25, 25-20, 15-11) to make a step forward on their way to the third stage of the qualification process coming up next year. With still one round to go on Sunday, Poland claimed their ticket to the Final Round to be co-hosted next year by Bulgaria and Italy as they improved their win-loss record to 4-1 with their straight-set victory over Latvia (25-22, 25-17, 25-18).
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Slovenia vs. F.Y.R. of Macedonia 3:2 (24-26, 25-20, 14-25, 25-20, 15-11)
Once again, Slovenia started poorly and let Macedonia extend their lead to four points (6:10), especially through own mistakes. The technical time-outs did not help head coach Luka Slabe either as his team remained sluggish in the realization of service and attacks, for 12:17. After that the Slovenians improved their game and equalized at 22:22. They even had a set point, but in the end Macedonia prevailed 26-24.
The hosts started the second set much better, with fewer mistakes and excellent blocking. Their lead was eight points in the middle of the set (20:12), however this didn’t guarantee an easy finish. A lack of concentration eventually led to the reduction of the lead to three points which was nevertheless sufficient in the end.
The start of the third set saw a black hole for the Slovenian team as the Macedonians created a 5:0 lead. Slovenia equalized at 9:9 and kept in touch until the twelfth point. After a disputable decision, the Macedonians took the initiative in their hands and won the set 25-14.
The next set was close until the very end as it was 20:20 and neither team created a considerable lead. The set fell to Slovenia owing to excellent serves by Klemen Čebulj who scored five consecutive points.
Just like in Wroclaw one week ago the winner was decided in the fifth set. Macedonia managed to grab an early lead but couldn’t convert. Slovenia won the set 15-11 and is now almost through to the next stage of the qualification process coming up in May 2015.
Luka Slabe, head coach of Slovenia, said: “We again faced the same problem as last week in Wroclaw. We are very motivated to play against top-ranked teams, but we have problems concentrating in other matches. I have to congratulate my guys today: they had problems, but overcame them.”
Slovenia’s team captain Tine Urnaut: “It was really difficult to play today, especially after the match against Poland was physically and mentally demanding. We had problems, but we overcame them and I am really satisfied about that.”
Poland vs. Latvia 3:0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-18)
In the second match of the day Poland faced Latvia and had to fight hard, especially in the first set, which they eventually won by 25-22. The Latvians, however, never allowed Poland to create a considerable lead, not even in the second and third set. The team led by Stéphane Antiga could only move away by a point or two. The second and third sets also went to Poland, which scored another three points and this way secured a spot in the Final Round of the European Champs that is coming up in October 2015 in Bulgaria and Italy.
Poland’s team captain Michal Winiarski: “We are very glad that after losing yesterday, we played a different match today. We controlled the whole game and I think we also saved many points. We are happy because our plan, i.e. to qualify for the 2015 CEV European Championship, is fulfilled already today.”
Poland’s mentor Stéphane Antiga: “I’m happy with this victory because we got our qualification for the European Championship and also very satisfied with the spirit and team play. In comparison to yesterday we played better, with not as many mistakes in attack and defense. It was not easy because Latvia also played good Volleyball today so we had to make some changes which worked out.”
Deniss Petrovs, captain of Latvia: “We improved our game compared to yesterday. We showed more emotion, but it is hard to play against a team such as Poland. We played better and are
looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”