KARLSRUHE, LEIPZIG, Germany, 7 September - After three days of play at the Men's
Senior European Championship in Germany, three teams are still undefeated. Defending champion and Olympic gold medallist Serbia and Montenegro won their third straight match by nailing Russia (3-1) in Pool I of the event. In Pool II, Italy defeated France 3-1. Hosts Germany booked their third victory in a row by defeating Spain in Pool II.
Italy and France played the best match of the European Championship so far. The Pool II clash was watched by more than 5,000 volleyball fans in the dm-arena of Karlsruhe and the spectators enjoyed spectacular volleyball. It was the
clash between the spikers Samuele Papi and Andrea Sartoretti on the Italian side and Stephane Antigua and Franz Granvorka on the French side that provided all the sparks.
The key of the match was the second set point of Italy's in the third set. After both teams won a set, Luigi Mastrangelo blocked the French attack of Antigua at 25-24. With Italy leading by two sets to one, France was never able to come
back. Italy claimed the 3-1 (25-21, 17-25, 26-24 25-20) victory and remain undefeated after three days of competition.
Italians Sartoretti and Matej Cernic both scored 18 points. The French middle
blocker Olivier Kieffer made 16 points, the same number as Italian Papi.
"Both teams were good in receiving, but our block and our defense was good as
well," Italian head coach Gian Paolo Montali stated. "I like the French game,
they defend, defend, defend. I am happy with the victory, but the European
Championship is not finished yet."
"Italy played on a very high level," Philippe Blain, coach of the French team
replied. "We let the Italians get back into the game in the third set when we
wer e leading by four points."
Serbia & Montenegro nailed Russia in the Pool I clash played in Leipzig.
Both teams, favorites for the European Championship, wanted to win the match to have
the best possibility to make the semifinals where the
best 12 teams of the world's leading volleyball continent meet. However, Serbia & Montenegro won the match 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-23, 25-15) against the
vice-World Champion in front of 4,500 spectators putting them in the driving seat to reach the final four, while Russia has to defeat the Netherlands on
"I'm satisfied," Balkan Blues captain Nikola Grbic, who as setter led his
team to victory, said. "Psychologically this victory is very important for
us, because it gives us further motivation for the upcoming matches."
"Our opponent deserved the victory," Russian head coach Guennadi Chipouline
Germany defeated Spain on Sunday evening in front of almost 6,000 spectators in
Karlsruhe. The German team didn't play as well as during the first two matches,
but the performance of especially opposite attacker Christian Pampel was enough
to clinch the 3-1 (26-24, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22)
In earlier Pool I action, Netherlands surprised by beating Poland 3-2 (29-27, 21-25, 25-21, 24-26, 15-9)
in Leipzig. The Dutch team, winner of the European
Championship in 1997, is only an outsider now after inconsistent results in the past year. Here in Germany, the mixed team of old stars like
Richard Schuil and Reinder Nummerdor and young talents like Nico Freriks and Rob
Bontje played one of the best matches this year against the upcoming Polish
Schuil and power hitter Guido Gortzen were the main responsibles for the Dutch
victory. Schuil, top scorer of the entire event so far, made 27 points, while
Gortzen put 25 points on the scoreboard. On the Polish side, Piotr Gruszka made
17 p oints. With the victory, Netherlands has a great chance to make it to the
"This was our best match we played so far," the Dutch captain Reinder Nummerdor
said. "We definitely needed the victory and you can imagine that we are really
In other Sunday action, the Czech Republic defeated Slovakia 3-1 (27-29, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22)
in Pool II, while
Greece pulled off the big upset of beating Bulgaria 3-1 (25-20, 25-16, 20-25, 25-18)
in Pool I.
Monday will be a travel day for the twelve teams participating in the Men's
Senior European Championships. The teams that played in Leipzig will travel to
Karlsruhe and the teams that in Karlsruhe will go to Leipzig. The matches in the
preliminary pool phase will continue on Wednesday.
After the single
round robin preliminary pool phase, the best two teams of each group will
proceed to the semifinals. The third and fourth ranked teams will fight for the
fifth till eighth position. The semifinals and finals will be played in Berlin on
September 13 and 14.