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Coaches and players‘ view on the way to FIVB World Grand Prix Group 3 Finals

Carlo Parisi (Czech Republic), Angelo Vercesi (Croatia), Oleksandr Gutor (Kazakhstan) and Vladimir Kuzyutkin (Bulgaria)

Samokov, Bulgaria, August 15, 2014 – Samokov Arena is ready to host the Finals for Group 3 of the FIVB World Grand Prix. The four coaches for Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia and Kazakhstan look ahead to a tough weekend with the chance to get the highest place on the podium and the 21st place in the event final standings.

Croatia coach Angelo Vercesi: I feel a good atmosphere in our team, which is a good start to get a victory. We have high respect for the opponents, starting from our first competitor which is Czech Republic. They beat us in the preliminary round, they have a good defense and know how to play together. Each of this teams can get the final gold, we have top quality here. Of course, it would be great to win for us as the rookie of the competition.

Bulgaria coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin: I want to see my team on their best condition at the World Championship in Italy and I think that I have some good reasons to think so. The world ranking position we have means nothing for us: 35 is just a number. We played against Kazakhstan, our first opponent, in the Eltsin Cup. I don’t want to say they’re good or bad, but it’s a team qualified for the World Championship and that means we have to respect them. I don’t feel the formula here as semifinal-final: both matches are a final, in-out games. Our goal will be to win each match, but I’m always telling my girls that this is sport, you have to foresee any result. Of course, I’m always hoping for the best. (About expert players back in the team): It’s still not said that they will be in the team. Mariya Filipova and Koleva are not yet in the list. They have to prove themselves and I hope that they have the right experience to show it to the team. They need to train hard and prove that they are ready for the World Championship.

Czech Republic coach Carlo Parisi: In our first match agains Croatia a top player like Maja Poljak was missing. She is here now. We need to play this debut match in the final as a team, acting with a good serve and a good job from our counter-attack with block and defense. It’ll be really hard for us but we’re going to try our best.

Kazakhstan coach Oleksandr Gutor: Our team worked very hard before this tournament, I feel we’re ready. I hope we can perform in an excellent way. Now we have a better situation than a couple of weeks ago, when many of my players faced injuries. We solved those problems, ready to face tomorrow match.

Kazakhstan libero Marina Storozhenko thinks that the preliminary rounds have been very interesting for her team as well: “We had good games against Croatia, Czech Republic and good experiences by winning with Mexico and Australia. Apart from Australia, for us - as a group of athletes – it was the first time ever against those opponents and we’ve learned a lot.“

Croatia middleblocker Maja Poljak wants a better start than the one thay had with Czech Republic: “We‘ve lost 3-1 in our first match against them in the preliminary round. We fully respect them: great players, and a good staff. However we need to win Saturday match.“

Helena Havelkova has a leading role for Czech Republic not only as a captain: “Having Croatia in semifinal means to face many really good players. We beat them before but we knew that they were not ready at that time. It’ll be a really difficult day tomorrow.“

“One month ago we beat Kazakhstan in Eltsin Cup“ is the comment of Bulgaria captain, Strashimira Filipova. “They are not an usual opponent for us: they’re very tall and play in a very typical Asian style. It’s not about the defense but they attack with lots of combination. Plus they know us very well so we’re sure they will try to surprise us“.

YouTube interviews available here:
Marina Storozhenko

Helena Havelkova

Carlo Parisi

Angelo Vercesi

Key Points

Czech Republic v Croatia

· The match on Saturday will be the second meeting between Czech Republic and Croatia in the World Grand Prix. Czech Republic won the first match 3-1 earlier this season.

· The first set of that match ended in a 32-30 win for Czech Republic.

· Croatia are still winless against European opposition, having lost to Czech Republic and Bulgaria. They won their four other matches against Kazakhstan, Kenya and Australia (twice).

Bulgaria v Kazakhstan

· The second game on Saturday in Samokov will be the first ever meeting between Bulgaria and Kazakhstan.

· Kazakhstan are winless in 18 World Grand Prix matches against European teams. In all these 18 matches, they only managed to win nine sets.

· Bulgaria have won and lost one match against Asian opposition, a 3-0 win vs Japan and a 3-0 loss vs China.

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