Ankara, Antalya, Turkey, 25 September - Netherlands and Poland join Turkey and Germany as semifinalists at the Women's European Championships after Thursday's action on the final day of the preliminary pool play round.
All eyes were on Pool II (Antalya) with three teams Italy, Netherlands and Poland were all in with a chance. Netherlands won their match, beating Ukraine in straight sets.
The highly motivated Dutch players played with confidence and sailed to victory with 15 points from Francien Huurman and another 14 from Elles Leferink, who commented: "'We are a real team, not twelve individuals. I think that's the reason for our success. For me it doesn't matter who we will play in the semifinals. We just want to win."
In other Pool II action, Italy failed to defeat Bulgaria in a five set clash that disqualified them from the semis. The match went down to the wire when at 14-13 in the final fifth, Italy thought they had it in the bag, then a Bulgarian spike grazed one of the fingers of the Italian block and landed out of court. Bulgaria then went on to take the set 19-17.
Poland was also a winner, creeping back into contention after Italy's defeat when they scored a 3-1 victory over the Czech Republic to claim second place in their pool. Poland and Netherlands both won four of the five matches, but the Dutch squad finished top of the table with a better set ratio. Italy, with a 3-2 win/loss record, will play for the fifth till eight position.
In Pool I action, Germany claimed the group victory after defeating Turkey 3-2 and silencing the 6000 Turkish fans in the stadium.
Russia took the third position in Pool I after winning against Rumania 3-0. Serbia & Montenegro booked the first win of the event defeating Slovakia 3-0.
The Women's European Championships resumes on Saturday in Ankara with the semifinals and classification matches. Poland plays Germany in the first semifinal, while host Turkey faces Netherlands in the second match.
Ankara - Pool I
RUS - ROM 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-22)
SCG - SVK 3-0 (28-26, 25-12, 27-25)
TUR - GER 2-3 (16-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-12, 10-15)
Ranking: 1. GER 5-10 (15-2); 2. TUR 5-9 (14-3); 3. RUS 5-8 (9-7); 4. ROM 5-7 (6-12); 5. SCG 5-6 (5-12); 6. SVK 5-5 (2-15).
Antalya - Pool II
NED - UKR 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-20)
ITA - BUL 2-3 (19-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-15, 17-19)
CZE - POL 1-3 (19-25, 25-23, 22-25, 16-25)
Ranking: 1. NED 5-9 (14-6); 2. POL 5-9 (13-9); 3. ITA 5-8 (11-7); 4. BUL 5-7 (10-11); 5. UKR 5-7 (7-12); 6. CZE 5-5 (5-15).
Match schedule Saturday 27 September 2003:
Ankara - Semifinals.
1130: RUS - BUL (Semifinal 5-8)
1400: ROM - ITA (Semifinal 5-8)
1630: GER - POL (SEMIFINAL 1-4)
1900: TUR - NED (SEMIFINAL 1-4)
Sunday 28 September 2003:
Ankara - Final and classification matches.
1130: Classification 7-8
1400: Classification 5-6
1630: Classification 3-4