ZAGREB, Croatia, 19 April 2003 - Girls U-18 teams start their campaign for the European Youth Title here in the Croatian capital on Tuesday with a strong lineup of teams, many capable of making the podium. Italy is the defending champion after claiming the title in Liberec, Czech Republic two years ago and meets a strong Russian lineup, Belarus and outsider Hungary in Pool 1.
In Pool II, Poland is looking for a big finish here at the Dom Odbojke stadium and they meet hosts Croatia, Germany and Serbia and Montenegro, all of whom are capable of being up with the leaders.
Hosts Croatia hope for a better finish than their boy team last week, who finished their U-19 championship ingloriously without taking a set. "Our goal is to reach the semifinals," Croatian head coach Matia Cicnino said. The championship preliminary matches begin on Tuesday and after three days of pool play the two best-ranked teams of each group will proceed to the semifinals.
Pool I: Italy, Hungary, Russia, Belarus. Pool II: Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Poland, Germany. Go to www.cev.lu for more information. Story by Arjen Meijer, CEV Confederation Press Officer