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FIVB Women's Olympic Games 2008

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European Women's Olympic Qualification: Poland, Germany and Romania start off with victories

Poland is celebrating their important victory against Nederland
HALLE (GER), 15 January 2008 – For three teams the start of the Women’s European Olympic Qualification Tournament 2008 in Halle (GER) was crowned with success. Host Germany (3:0 against Turkey), Romania (3:2 versus Croatia) as well as Poland (3:1 against Nederland) booked their first victories. Eight teams from the world’s leading volleyball continent are fighting for only one ticket for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Germany started in business-like mood, and when Christiane Fürst scored with a quick attack, Turkish head coach Alessandro Chiappini took the first timeout of the game trailing 3-9. On the resumption, Özsoy Neriman lifted Turkish spirits with two service winners, leveling the game at 15-15. The Turks were looking much more fired up than Germany now, though, and a terrific spike brought them a 19-17 advantage. Germany coach Giovanni Guidetti successfully injected some precision into his team with Kathleen Weiss for Tanja Hart. Great defense by Libera Heike Beier led to a blistering Angelina Grün winner, and a service mistake from Neriman concluded the first set in the host’s favor. Turkey came back strongly in the second set, leading 16-15 at the second technical timeout after two German unforced errors in a row.  However, Cornelia Dumler pushed the hosts ahead 22-21 with a wristy winner down the left, before Seda Tokatlioglu bounced back with a successful block and a powerful attack. But it was not enough for the young Turkish squad, playing without their top shot Darnel Neslihan who is pregnant, when the Guidetti six secured the second set in extremis (26-24). In the third set, the Turks tried to turn around the score with some remarkable saves, but the German girls were more determined. Angelina Grün scored from the right to end it 25-19. “Fur sure we didn’t show our best volleyball”, said German head coach Giovanni Guidetti after the game, “but first of all I’m happy with the 3:0 victory. We never know if we need a good set ratio at the end of the tournament.”

In the second game of the day, both Romania and Croatia started head-to-head, with a slight Croatian advantage (16-15) at the second technical timeout. Sanja Popovic thumped one up the right, Mirela Delic pushed one over, and a block from Ivana Milos let the Croatians to their first set ball. Popovic finished it with an outstanding service winner.  In the second set, the Croatians needed a timeout down 7-10. Two powerful serves from Romanian captain Carmen Marcovici knocked the Croatian defense off balance, and Claudia Carstoiu continued to be a danger on the left and right flank with her impressing spikes. Setter Daniela Minca joined in the fun with a smart combination for 21-12, and then set up Carmen Turlea for a crashing angled spike across court from the left. The set was over as a contest now, as Romania romped ahead, meeting little resistance against a sleepy Croatia. An Iuliana Nucu block closed the set at 25-14. Three Milos floating serves gave Croatia a marginal lead at 13-10 in the third set, and Popovic went on with a nice back row attack to 17-13. Romania bounced back to 17-19, but it was too late. Jelena Alajbeg secured Croatia the 2-1 lead with a successful spike through the Romanian block. The Romanian squat again found themselves on top in the middle of the fourth set as Croatia's lack of coordination continued to plague the team. Romania took a five-point lead at 20-15, but the Croatians dug in and pulled back to 23-23. But there was no holding back the Romanians despite more valiant efforts from Croatia and Turlea finished things off in the fourth with a serve ace. The Croatians had a disorganized start to the fifth set, allowing Romania an early 7-1 lead. Croatia did their best to fight back, but a three-point series to 5-8 was not enough. With seven points in a row, Romania cruised safely to victory (15-5).

Poland looked impressive from the start in the third match of the day against Nederland, with Katarzyna Skowronska, Eleonora Dziekiewicz and Katarzyna Gajgal getting in some meaty spikes as the East Europeans pulled away to a 16-12 lead at the first technical timeout. Ingrid Visser came up with some of her own power in response, but the Dutch couldn't close the gap. An awesome service hammer by Anna Baranska had the vociferous crowd on their feet and the Poles rode that support to a comfortable lead. Both teams were defending well, but the Dutch were prone to errors under the Polish onslaught. A Manon Flier serve fault handed Poland set point at 24-17 and Dziekiewicz finished off the set with an affirmative spike. Nederland started much better into the second set to win by one, 16-15, in the second technical timeout. Dziekiewicz stepped up the pace for Poland and began to dominate the net again; helping her team to level at 19-19. Avital Selinger took another timeout at 22-21 when Anna Podolec scored for Poland. The game balanced on a knife’s edge from 24-24 to 28-28, before Malgorzata Glinka swooped from the left to wrap it up 30-28. Skowronska as well as Dziekiewicz had scored 19 points in the first two sets alone, and the Dutch clearly needed to tame them from the third set onwards. Chaine Staelens and Katarzyna Gajgal exchanged full-blooded spikes at the net in the early stages of set three as the teams went point for point till 11-11. Then Visser served six times in a row, bouncing Nederland into heaven. The Dutch blocking, this time by Huurman and Flier, was keeping Poland under pressure at 23-15 when Marco Bonitta called his second timeout. Skowronska saved the first Dutch set point with a right side winner, but hit the following serve into the net – the show went into a fourth set. Visser was in sparkling form in the middle of the fourth frame, blocking two points to level at 10-10, but Poland pulled back to 16-13 at the second technical timeout. Skowronska was far from finished and continued to scatter the Dutch defense. Selinger had to call his two timeouts in a row at 14-18 and 14-19, but the hopes vanished into thin air. Dziekiewicz blocked Poland towards victory; and Nederland seemed discouraging when the gap grew to six at 17-23. Skowronska brought up match point at 24-19 and finished it with a powerful back row spike.

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Women's European Olympic Qualification Tournament
Halle, Germany: 15-20 January 2008
Pool A: Serbia, Russia, Romania, Croatia
Pool B: Germany, Poland, Turkey, Nederland

Match schedule (all times CET) Tuesday 15 January 2008
GER – TUR 3:0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-19)
CRO – ROU 2:3 (25-21, 14-25, 25-22, 23-25, 5-15)
NED – POL 1:3 (17-25, 28-30, 25-16, 20-25)
Wednesday 16 January 2008
1500: CRO - RUS
1730: POL - GER
2000: ROU - SRB
Thursday 17 January 2008
1500: TUR - NED
1730: SRB - CRO
2000: ROU - RUS
Friday 18 January 2008
1500: TUR - POL
1730: RUS - SRB
2000: GER - NED
Saturday 19 January 2008
1730 & 2000 Semifinals
Sunday 20 January 2008
1530 FINAL



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