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Slovenia send shockwaves as semfinalists emerge in Eurovolley 2019

Dejan Vincic sets the ball to Alen Panjek as Slovenia power past mighty Russia to make the semifinals of the 2019 European Volleyball Championship. (Photo: CEV)
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 24, 2019 - Slovenia sent major shockwaves throughout the continent when they knocked out defending champions Russia to make the semifinals of the 2019 Men's European Volleyball Championship. They are joined in the top four by Poland, France (who will be hosting one semifinal plus the medals matches next weekend) and Serbia.

• Poland v Slovenia, Thursday in Ljubljana
• France v Serbia, Friday in Paris

Slovenia opened procedings in Ljubljana before more than 11,000 fans, stunning the defending champions with a 3-1 (25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 25-21) win that brought back memories of the home side's triumphant run in 2015 when they won the silver medal.

Tine Urnaut was Slovenia's top scorer with 13 points, but the home side had plenty of other options in bringing the points in, with Mitja Gasparini (5 aces) and Klemen Cebulj adding another 12 each. Russia relied on Victor Poletaev's match high of 20 points and Maxim Mikhailov's 19. But Slovenia kept their errors to a minimum, conceding only 25 while taking advantage of as many as 28 by Russia.

In a more predictable manner, reigning world champions Poland shut out the 2017 European Championship silver medallists Germany 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-18) in Apeldoorn, led by Wilfredo Leon who scored 13 points - to counter the match high of 18 by Germany's Gyorgy Grozer. Poland were dominant on the net, better in reception and also capitalised on 31 unforced errors of Germany (to 18 of their own).

And France remained on track to play in the medals matches in Paris, when they emphatically knocked out six-time European champions Italy 3-0 (25-16, 27-25, 25-14) at home in Nantes. Stephen Boyer with a match high 25 points and his French teammate Earvin Ngapeth with 13 were the only players to score in double digits as the home side destroyed Italy from the service with 11 aces (an amazing 9 by Boyer alone) to 3.

But the Ukraine took the 2017 bronze medallists Serbia all the way in Antwerp though the Balkan side held on for a 3-2 (21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 19-25, 15-9) win inspired by Aleksandar Atanasijeivc's 24 points and Uros Kovacevic's 21. The Ukraine created problems in Serbia's reception with their serving, but their attackers had difficulty in getting the ball on the floor.

The semifinals are followed by the bronze medal match on Saturday and the final on Sunday.

• More information on the CEV website.

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