Laktaši, Bosnia and Herzegovina, April 17, 2013 – On Wednesday, Poland qualified for the semifinals of the Boys' 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship, as it continued its winning streak through the fourth competition day in Pool I.
They overcame the home team, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3-0. The Polish team has yet to lose a set in the tournament and is sure to finish on top of the pool.
However, it will be a tough battle for the second position. After Italy beat Austria in straight sets and Slovenia outplayed Belgium in an exciting five-setter, all of these four teams are still in contention for the semis.
The top six of the competition will represent Europe at the 2013 FIVB Volleyball U19 Boys' World Championship, scheduled for later this summer in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico.
Italy versus Austria 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-13)
Italy managed to stay in contention for a place in the semifinals as it defeated Austria in straight sets. Tiziano Mazzone was the best scorer of the match with 14 points while Paul Buchegger added 13 to Austria’s tally.
The first set of this match was the most interesting one. Despite making too many unforced errors, Austria had the upper hand early on and reached a five-point advantage at 14-9. It could see itself as the winner of this first part of the match as it had four consecutive set points at 24-20. However, with captain Sebastiano Milan behind the serving line, Italy made a fantastic run and overturned the outcome to 26-24.
With the psychological advantage on its side, Andrea Tomasini's team went quickly through the following two sets. Austria never got the chance to take the lead again. The Italians outplayed their opponents in blocking and offense and piled up a solid advantage to close the second set by 25-17 and the third by 25-13.
Belgium versus Slovenia 2-3 (22-25, 24-26, 25-15, 25-14, 12-15)
Slovenia emerged as the winner of this exciting five-set rollercoaster against Belgium. The Belgians could have made a huge step towards the semifinals but now they have to overcome Austria on Thursday to secure a place among the best four in the championship.
Toncek Stern contributed 19 points for the Slovenian victory and topped the scorers’ chart of the match, while Arno Van De Velde was responsible for 18 of the points on Belgium’s tally, including six aces and seven blocks.
The first set as a whole was very close, with a slight advantage for Slovenia. It was Toncek Stern whose great spiking efforts brought seven points to his team’s score in this set. The Slovenes saw their lead disappear as Belgium scored four points in a row with some strong serving from Arno Van De Velde to tie the score at 14 each.
The battle continued for every point until the score was again equal at 22 each, but then Slovenia scored three in a row with Jan Kozamernik’s block putting the ball on the floor for the final point.
Belgium improved its blocking performance in the second set while Slovenia stepped up its serving power, and battle on the court became even fiercer. After several changes of the lead, Iztok Ksela’s boys got to their first set point at 24-23. They did not take advantage of it, but took advantage of the next one to close the set at 26-24.
Belgium increased the pressure. The team of Steven Vanmedegael took control over the next two parts of the match. In the third set they established domination thanks to their improved offense and Arno Van De Velde’s prolific serving, and in the fourth their block was like a wall. Their game was almost flawless to convincingly win by 25-15 and 25-14 and set the stage for a decisive fifth set.
Slovenia came out more concentrated for the decider and took an early lead. Belgium trailed close behind and eliminated the gap during the mid section of the set, but was never able to take over. Its players made too many errors, and this is how they scored Slovenia’s last point for 15-12, handing victory to their opponent.
Poland versus Bosnia & Herzegovina 3:0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-12)
Poland claimed its fourth straight-set victory in the tournament as it beat Bosnia and Herzegovina in the last match on Wednesday. With 11 points each, Poland’s Pawel Gryc (four blocking kills) and Bartosz Bucko became the most prolific players of this game, while Marko Matic scored nine points to become the top scorer for the home side.
In the first set it was hard to tell which team has not lost a set so far and which has not won a game. The hosts took an early lead, taking advantage of Poland’s mistakes. Wieslaw Czaja's team was able to tie the score at 10-10, but the second technical time-out was the first time they went up ahead of the opponent for 16-15. At 23-17 Poland’s way, everything seemed to be as expected, but not according to the players of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Inspired by the support of the home fans, they stormed back into contention and tied the score at 24-24. With a successful spike it gained another set point, then Piotr Badura’s block that finished it off at 26-24.
Bosnia and Herzegovina tried to take control at the beginning of the second set and were up by 2-1 and by 3-2, but from this moment on, Poland established total domination. The side closed the second set at 25-21 and the home team was practically absent in the third, which finished 25-12 in Poland’s favour. Substitute player Jan Fornal hit the ball off the Bosnian block for the last point.
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