ANKARA, Turkey, 24 June 2003 - Hosts Turkey have been drawn to meet the defending champions Russia in the preliminary round of the 2003 Women's Senior European Championships due to be held from September 20-28.
The host team and Russia, winners in 2001, join Slovakia, Germany, Romania and Serbia & Montenegro in Pool I, which will play in Ankara, after the drawing of lots ceremony was held on Tuesday in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, the Netherlands and world champion Italy were drawn in Pool II. The matches of this preliminary group will be played in Antalya.
Pool II looks slightly stronger with five of the six best teams at the 2001 European Championships all participating. World Champion and 2001 runner-up Italy will face 2001 bronze medallist Bulgaria, 2001 semifinalist Ukraine, Netherlands (5th in 2001), Poland (6th in 2001) and the Czech Republic.
'All twelve teams playing in the final round are very strong', Polish head coach Andrej Niemczyk, who was present in Ankara, said immediately after the drawing of lots. 'All teams can win and lose against each other, so in my opinion the two pools are equal.'
The drawing of lots ceremony was carried out in the presence of CEV President Mr. Andre Meyer and Turkish Federation President Prof. Dr. Hüsnü Can. "Turkey is prepared to host this important event," Prof. Dr. Can said. "I am sure the event will be successful and the cities of Ankara and Antalya are ready for this tournament."
CEV President Andre Meyer stated: "Today is an important day for Volleyball, not only in Turkey but also in the rest of Europe. The CEV is very satisfied with the work of the Turkey Volleyball Federation and I am sure that this important competition will be a great success."
After the preliminary round, the first two ranked teams of each group will qualify for the semifinals, to be played in Ankara on September 28. The final is scheduled for September 29 also in Ankara.
Pool I: Turkey, Slovakia, Germany, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro, Russia.
Pool II: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Italy.