FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship

Press release

Poland and Italy to battle for gold at CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball Championship

World No. 3 Italy sailed to a hard-fought 3:1 win versus Serbia in Saturday’s first semifinal of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls in Bar, Montenegro

Bar, Montenegro, April 6, 2013 - Poland will challenge Italy in Sunday’s gold medal match of the 2013 CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball European Championship in Bar, Montenegro. 

Italy, last year's runner-up, defeated Serbia in four sets (25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-13) before Poland surprised reigning champions Turkey in a thrilling five-setter (25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 21-25, 15-11). The Poles dashed the Turkish dreams for another gold medal after their triumphs at 2011 CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball European Championship, 2011 FIVB Volleyball Girls' Youth World Championship and 2012 CEV Junior Womens' Volleyball European Championship. 

Pool I teams were all successful Saturday, winning their decisive duels against their opponents from Pool II. 

Italy verses Serbia 3-1 (25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-13)

World No. 3 Italy sailed to a hard-fought 3-1 win against Serbia in Saturday’s first semifinal of the 2013 CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball European Championship in Bar, Montenegro. Aside from the second set, the young Serbian talents couldn’t hold the pace of the Italian squad. 

Italy’s Anna Nicoletti was the game’s top scorer with 18 points, while Sara Lozo earned 12 points for Serbia. 

The first semifinal turned to a point-by-point rally, engaging the crowd with enthusiastic atmosphere. Both sides showed strong determination in the first set. Serbia experienced the better start but Italy bounced back with sharp serves to draw level at 12-12. Neither team could build a leading advantage until at 21-21 a 4-0 run from Italy with a combination of blocking, hard-spike and service winners from Alice Degradi closed the important and intense opening set in Italy’s favor. 

In the second set, Serbia adjusted their reception maneuvers and setter Jelena Vignjevic efficiently triggered their 3 main gunners – Sara Lozo, Bojana Milenkovic and Maja Dordevic from all angles. A solid spike by Anna Nicoletti turned the Italian downward trend, but the improved defense and reception of Serbia helped the East Europeans successfully tie the set score to 1-1. Italy committed 13 errors in the second set. 

Italians were not discouraged by the failure in the second period and quickly build a commanding lead at 8-3, while their Serbian opponents incurred several unnecessary errors in reception and attack. Italian libero Marianna Maggipinto's solid defense saved several sharp attacks from both Lozo and Dordevic and Italy continued their upward track until 19-16. A service winner from Sara Bonifacio and two block kills from Anna Danesi gave Italy the 2-1 set lead. 

Italy continued their solid performance from the third set and quickly forced Serbia’s coach Marijana Boricic to request her first timeout at 2-6. The upcoming Serbian stars came back with a more solid show and well-spread attack tactic to close the gap at 6-8; however, Anastasia Guerra's consecutive hits stopped the upward trend of Serbia and Italy never looked back. 

“I’m very happy for today’s win as the semifinal match is always a very difficult match to play," said Italy head coach Luca Pieragnoli. "I am very satisfied with the game my girls have shown, not only those on the court but also the girls coming in from the bench.” 

“This was a very thorough match as Serbia is known as a very strong team," said Italy's captain Ofelia Malinov. "We were aware that during the match we would have difficult moments, but we were ready to react in an appropriate way.” 

“Italy deserve today’s win," said Serbia's coach Marijana Boricic. "We knew they were playing at a very high level and did our best to stop them. Nevertheless, we are very happy with the qualification for the World Champs in Thailand what our principal aim before the tournament was.” 

“I think we were not focused enough today," said Serbia's captain Jelena Vignjevic. "Tomorrow we will do our best to win the match for the third place.” 

Turkey verses Poland 2-3 (23-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-21, 11-15) 

Poland overpowered titleholders Turkey to claim a merited spot for Sunday’s gold medal match of the 2013 CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball European Championship. Coach Catma Sahin's team came back from behind, but couldn’t stop Poland in the fifth and deciding set. 

Turkey's Aroguz Pelin was the top scorer, with 23 points, while Polish attackers Malwina Smarzek and Magdalena Damaske obtained 20 and 17 points respectively. 

Two of Polish's famous gunners, Malwina Smarzek and Magdalena Damaske, showed their on-fire momentum with sharp attack from both sides of the wings to lead their team to a 15-13 advantage in the first set. Turkey remained strong in attack and block but struggled with their poor reception, giving the Poles several points. The tight and intense pattern lasted until 23-23 when Damaske ended the set with a dexterous spike by the Turkish blockers. 

The second set was expected to be intense, but strong serving folks led by Polish Klaudia Grzelak turned the period into a one-side game. The reigning champions did their best to catch up, but couldn’t stop Poland’s impressive show. 

Turkey fought back bravely with their tight floor defense and sharp spikes of Rida Erlalelitepe and Pelin Aroguz, which led Turkey to an undisputed 8-4 and 16-9 lead early in the third period. Turkey’s setter Arelya Karasoy stepped up in time to confuse Poland’s defense by fully utilizing spikers from all possible angles. The most important reason for Turkey’s comeback, however, was their risk management at the net and behind the service line, allowing them to take the third set with a six-point advantage. 

Sensing an opportunity, the Turks looked to take quick control of the fourth set after the first technical timeout, and showed their determination with an all-round better performance. Poland were unable to control Turkish opposite Aroguz crashing their defense. To encouraging applause from the few Turkish supporters, the Turks capitalized on their momentum and took the fourth set 25-21. 

Turkey’s offensive errors were massive blows to their morale, allowing Poland to bounce back early in the deciding set. The Poles made excellent defensive stops and attacked flawlessly against the Turks. Even though Turkey reduced a six-point deficit to one point at 10-11, it was too late for a Turkish comeback. Erlalelitepe's out-of-court smash ended the 128-minute contest in favor of the Poles. 

“I’m speechless. I can’t describe my feelings," said Poland's coach Grzegorz Kosatka. "We feel more than happy. My team showed excellent mental skills today.” 

“I’m crying and can’t control my emotions," said Poland's captain Paulina Baldyga. "We are so proud. It was an excellent example for infinite team spirit.” 

“Congratulations to Poland," said Turkey's coach Catma Sahin. "We have to accept today’s defeat. In this age group, there are many ups and downs. Today Poland was a little bit luckier. I am, however, still very proud of my players.”

"We made too many simple mistakes in the deciding set," said Turkey's captain Arelya Karasoy. “ It was enough to give Poland their hopes back.” 

Match schedule for Sunday: 

Classification matches 5-8: 

10:30 Russia vs. Germany (for the 7th place) 

13:00 Greece vs. Slovenia (for the 5th place) 

Classification matches 1-4: 

15:30 Serbia vs. Turkey (for bronze) 

18:00 Italy vs. Poland (for gold) 

The final ranking of the 2013 CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball European Championship determine the six teams representing Europe at this year’s FIVB Girls' Youth World Championship coming up later this summer in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, as well as the seven nations taking part at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht (NED).

The final matches of the 2013 CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball European Championship are available live and for free at

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