Czech Republic gets their ticket for the final
It was a tough match, full of ups and downs, what Helena Havelkova’s team had to face on Saturday in Samokov to get their tickets for the finals against Croatia 3-2 (26-28, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21, 15-10). After a long battle, the obvious key was a fifth set which stayed uncertain by 5-5 and after that Croatians were oppressed by their own mistakes. Havlickova scored 27 and Havelkova 24 for the winners. Senna Usic finished with 17 and Mia Jerkov with 16 for Croatia.
· Croatia are still winless against European opposition, having lost to Czech Republic (twice) and Bulgaria. They won their four other matches against Kazakhstan, Kenya and Australia (twice).
· Croatia were the only debutants in Group 3 to have made it to the finals. Australia, Kenya and Mexico all failed to do so, while the only other debutants Belgium have reached the finals in Group 2
· For Croatia, this semifinal was their first five-setter in the World Grand Prix.
· Czech Republic have won all of their seven matches in this World Grand Prix season so far. In their only previous season in the competition, they won just two of nine matches.
· Aneta Havlickova is both the most prolific scorer (140 points) and best spiker (122, 47.47%) in Group 3.
Czech Republic coach Carlo Parisi was enthusiastic for the result: “This victory is very important for us. You can’t compare the Preliminary Rounds in FIVB World Grand Prix to the Finals. This match was our toughest till now. Now we need to focus on tomorrow.“ His captain Helena Havelkova confirmed: “It was a very difficult match for us, both teams showed equal play, but the fifth set was the most important. It all depended on it and I am very happy to have won it. Now we have to rest a bit and think of the final.“
Bulgaria still need a victory to end their campaign
Bulgaria is the second finalist of 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 3 Finals. Vladimir Kuzyutkin's girls defeated Kazakhstan 3-1 (25-16, 25-23, 21-25, 25-14) and will face Czech Republic tomorrow in the final. Volleyball specialist claimed exactly those teams to meet in the match for the 21st place in the tournament and to fight for promotion in Group 2 next year. Rabadzhieva, Nikolova and Vasileva gave quite a start for Bulgaria in the first set spiking hard and provided a bomb of emotions for the fans in Arena Samokov. Powerful Mudritskaya tried to respond for Kazakhstan but her teammates failed in defense to lose the set at 16 points.
· Today match was the first ever meeting between Bulgaria and Kazakhstan.
· Kazakhstan are winless in 19 World Grand Prix matches against European teams. In all these 19 matches, they only managed to win ten sets.
· Bulgaria are aiming to clinch 21st place in front of a home crowd in Samokov. In 2013, their only prior season in the World Grand Prix, they finished ninth.
· Together with Czech Republic, Bulgaria are the only unbeaten team in Group 3 with seven wins each.
· Seven wins this season are their World Grand Prix record so far. They had six wins in 2013.
captain Strashimira Filipova embraced Bulgarian fans at the end of the match
with a big smile: “We were very prepared for the team of Kazakhstan. We really
wanted this win badly and I think that we have used our opportunities in the
best way. In the third set we had some downs but this is normal for women
volleyball“. Kazakhstan coach replied that his team attitude was not what he
was expecting. “In today’s women volleyball, psychology is a very important
element“ said Oleksand Gutor. “I think that we lost that game on this level.
Congratulations for the team of Bulgaria“.
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