Maribor, Slovenia, July 6, 2014. The League Round of the 2014 CEV Volleyball European League - Men is now completed. In the very last match of the five legs of competition in the two pools, FYR of Macedonia beat Slovenia by 3:1 (25-21, 26-28, 28-26, 25-20) in Maribor.
This game did not affect the final standings in Pool B, as Slovenia finished first with 21 points, followed by Macedonia with 20, each with a 7-1 win-loss record. So Montenegro vs. Macedonia and Slovenia vs. Greece have been set up as the semifinal match-ups of this year’s edition of the European League. The first leg of the semifinals is to take place next weekend, July 12 and 13, with the return matches scheduled for July 16.
The Macedonians were in control of the scoreboard throughout a very steady fist set, eventually extending their lead to 4 points for the final 25-21. In the second set the Slovenes could not hold on to the 7-point lead they had at and shortly after the second technical time-out and the score was leveled at 20-20. Still, the home side persevered not to allow the opponents to take over and broke a long point-for-point series to win the set by 28-26. Set three was almost like a mirror image of the previous one. This time Macedonia could not hold on to its 4-point advantage in the mid part of the set, but eventually still won by the same result – 28-26. The fourth set was competitive only through 10-10, after which the visiting team broke away and never looked back to close the set at 25-20 and the match at 3:1.
Zarko Ristoski, head coach of Macedonia: “It was much better than yesterday. With this victory we broke one bad tradition for us – we had not managed to beat Slovenia for 10 years. This is a big success for us, especially because we finish the league round with a victory. I am very satisfied and proud of my boys. Seven victories is a really big result for us in the European League. We are now focused on the semifinals.”
Luka Slabe, head coach of Slovenia: “Of course, we are not satisfied with the conclusion of this competition, but more than losing tonight is more important that some of our guys got priceless experience so now they know exactly what is ahead of them. A lot of work is needed to be on the competitive level in this competition. Overall we are very satisfied, but, as you can see, everybody is tired, also staff, we need a good rest and good preparation for Greece. I would also like to congratulate Macedonia for this victory.”
Click here for more details, including match statistics and photos.