ZAGREB, Croatia, 24 April 2003 - Serbia and Montenegro on Thursday soaked up the final semifinal place at the Girls Under-18 European Championship and will join Croatia, Italy and Russia in the semis. Serbia and Montenegro defeating Germany (3-0) for the last ticket. In other action, Italy defeated Russia 3-2, Belarus was stronger that Hungary (3-1) and host Croatia dismissed Poland (3-0). Russia meets Croatia, while Italy will face Serbia and Montenegro in the semifinals on Saturday. In the clash between Serbia and Montenegro and Germany was an even battle until 20-20 before some great jump serves of Mirjana Komlenovic put Serbia and Montenegro in the lead. Germany drew level at 23-all but Serbia and Montenegro drove home to winners and went one set up. From then on, the championship rookie has the edge and cleaned up the match in straight sets. 'We didn't expect to be in the last four,' Serbia and Montenegro coach Zorica Lazic said. German coach Jens Tietbohl said his team's loss of the opening set cost them the match but admitted: "Serbia and Montenegro was simply a better team today." Italy grabbed the first place in Pool I after winning a spectacular five setter against Russia. After leveling at 2-sets all, Russia had an 8-4 edge before the 'Squadra Azzurrini' took control and went on to take the evenly fought match that lasted almost two hours and resulted in each team scoring 98 points. Serena Ortolani (22 points) and Veronica Angeloni (20 points) were the best players on the Italian side, while Olga Sazhina scored most of the Russian points. 'The level of our reception and defense dropped down after the second set,' Italian head coach Luca Pieragnoli stated. 'This victory is very important for us and shows that we have a medal chance.' In other Thursday action, Croatia took the third victory in a row in Pool II, defeating Poland 3-0. In Pool I, Belarus claimed the first victory of the event after winning against Hungary 3-1. Friday is a rest day at the championship in the Croatian capital.
Results: Pool I: Italy def, Russia 3-2 (25-17, 25-21, 21-25, 12-15, 15-10); Belarus def. Hungary 3-1 ( 25-20, 21-25, 26-24, 25-11). Ranking: 1, Italy, 2, Russia, 3, Belarus, 4, Hungary. Pool II: Serbia & Montenegro def. Germany 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-20); Croatia def. Poland 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-13).
Ranking: 1, Croatia, 2, Serbia and Montenegro, Germany, Poland.