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Belgium claim last semifinal spot at Youth European Champs

Belgium's boys celebrate their qualification for the semis of the Youth European Championship after their straight-set win over Austria whereby they also secured a ticket to this year's World Champs in Mexico

Laktaši, Bosnia and Herzegovina, April 18, 2013 – As soon as the first match on the last competition day in Pool I of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys was over, the last semi final spot of the tournament was filled. Belgium made sure it earned the 3 points from its encounter with Austria which was enough to claim the second place in the pool for a chance to face Russia in one of Saturday’s semi final matches. The team of Steven Vanmedegael ran over its opponents in straight sets.

All that the following two matches of the day had to do is determine the two teams to stay in Laktaši and fight for the distribution of the fifth through the eighth place in the final rankings of the competition. Slovenia needed to win at least two sets against Poland to qualify, but it won none and provided all the answers before the third match of the day - Italy and Austria would finish in positions 3 and 4 in the pool and would join Turkey and France in the battle for the fifth place in the championship, for a ticket to the 2013 FIVB Youth Volleyball World Championship in Mexico or at least for a place in the 2013 European Youth Olympic Festival in the Netherlands.
In a more relaxed last game of the pool with no direct impact on the standings, Italy shut out the host team of Bosnia and Herzegovina for its third win in the competition.

Austria vs. Belgium 0:3 (14-25, 17-25, 18-25)

After its somewhat unexpected loss yesterday, on Thursday Belgium needed only 63 minutes of game time to overcome the resistance of Austria, win in straight sets and secure a place in the semi finals. Thomas Konings became the best scorer of the match with 13 points. Paul Buchegger did his usual duties for the Austrian team and came up with 12 points in this game.
Lowie Stuer was the one running the show in the first set as he scored 7 points to help his team impose its will as a large number of unforced errors by Austria also contributed to the convincing 25-14.
In the second set Austria was able to put some pressure on the opponents as it stepped up its serving efforts and reduced its mistakes. So the score was relatively stable through 11-11, but the Belgian block started working really well and gave Steven Vanmedegael’s team the edge to storm for the final 25-17.
In the third set, Belgium took an early 4-0 lead and never looked back. The gap went as wide as 9 points at 13-4. Austria was once again in the mode of committing too many errors and, although Nina Sawatzki’s boys at one moment managed to get as close as 3 points behind their opponents, they could not catch up.

Slovenia vs. Poland 0:3 (18-25, 19-25, 12-25)

Although Poland had already secured the first place in the pool, it obviously had no intentions to give out gifts or let the steam off today. It shut out Slovenia in 67 minutes to stay unbeaten in the tournament and left the opponent out of the next phase of the competition. Poland’s Aleksander Sliwka and Bartosz Bucko tallied 11 points each to become the game’s most prolific players. Toncek Stern was Slovenia’s top scorer with 8 points.
However, the match was not as one-sided as the final result may suggest. In the first set the Slovenes were holding up through their 11th point before Poland managed to break away with a series of 5 points in row. Wieslaw Czaja’s boys continued to spike and serve way better than the opponents to close the set at 25-18.
In the second set Slovenia was even able to take an early 4-point lead and control the game until 15-15. The first time Poland took over was immediately before the second technical time-out. Its blockers showed off their skills at the net as it piled up another impressive advantage for the final 25-19 in the set.
In the third set Piotr Badura’s impenetrable block (5 points) and some tough serving from Bartosz Bucko and Krzysztof Bienkowski is what made Slovenia surrender. Poland established total domination on the court and stormed to finish it all off at 25-12.

Bosnia & Herzegovina vs. Italy 0:3 (15-25, 17-25, 16-25)

Since the final ranking in the pool had already been decided, Italy defeated the home guys from Bosnia and Herzegovina in straight sets for prestige. Captain Sebastiano Milan topped the scorers’ chart with 17 points. Substitute player Milenko Simikic was most prolific for the losing side with 7 points. There was no real contest on the court. The Italians demonstrated their superiority by taking control of the scoreboard throughout the match and piling up an impressive lead in each of the sets. With better reception and more productive attacking they demolished the opponents in the first two sets by 25-15 and by 25-17. Ljubisa Ristic’s boys made way too many mistakes in the match, especially in the third set as the final score was once again with a big difference in the points – 16-25.

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