ZAGREB, Croatia, April 17 2003. In a repeat of last year's final Russia successfully defended their Under-19 Boys European Championship title after beating Poland 3-0 in Thursday’s final in Zagreb, Croatia. The Russian team was by far and away the best team of the tournament and strolled to victory 25-19, 28-26, 25-15, their third Championship title in a row and their fourth in five tournaments.
Russia showed their true class in the second set fighting back from 24-20 down to win the set and then cruise to victory in the third. Two aces by Pavel Kruglov, voted as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, sealing the win for Russia.
Poland's hopes were crushed especially after having five chances to clinch the second set, however all their hard work was not in vein as attacker Marcel Gromadowski received the award for the best attacker of the tournament.
Earlier Italy claimed the bronze medal after fighting back from a set down to overcome Germany, the surprise team of the tournament, 3-1.
In other results the Netherlands finished fifth after beating the Czech Republic in a five-set thriller 3-2. while Slovakia beat Croatia in the playoff for seventh 3-0. The win sees Slovakia qualifiy for the Boys Under-19 World Championship in Thailand this July as part of the top-six European teams following Germany's withdrawal.
The European Youth Championships continue on April 24, when the Girls Under-18 European Championship starts in Zagreb, Croatia.
Russia beat Poland 3-0
(25-19, 28-26, 25-15)
Italy beat Germany 3-1
(21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19)
The Netherlands beat Czech Republic 3-2
(20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 16-25, 15-11)
Slovakia beat Croatia
3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-20)
FINAL RANKING (Q = Qualified for World Under 19 Championships):
1. RUS (Q)
2. POL (Q)
3. ITA (Q)
5. NED (Q)
6. CZE (Q)
7. SVK (Q)
Most Valuable Player: Pavel KRUGLOV (RUS)
Best Attacker: Marcel GROMADOWSKI (POL)
Best Server: Roman DANILOV (RUS)
Best Blocker: Marcus BOHME (GER)
Best Setter: Serguei GRANKINE (RUS)
Best receiver: Anton BESSONOV (RUS)
Best libero: Matteo CACCHIARELLI (ITA)