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Poland, Italy, Czech Republic off to good start at 2013 CEV Girls' Youth Championship

 
The "squadra azzurra" set the pace right from the beginning of the tournament
 

Bar, Montenegro, March 30, 2013 – Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic set the pace on Saturday during their first Pool I competition at the 2013 CEV Girls’ Youth Volleyball European Championship. Slovenia and Greece also showed their potential for claiming a spot in the final eight. 

Italy 3, Greece 1 (25-21, 25-19, 25-22) 

2011 runners-up Italy claimed a hard-earned, straight-sets win against Greece. The young Greeks played a strong match against one of the favourites of the Championship. 

Italian star Anastasia Guerra scored 19 points for Italy while Greece’s captain Olga Strantzali booked 14 kills.

Italy led 16-13 at the second technical break of the first set, before Dimitrios Floros’s team recorded six points in a row to turn the tables. But the “squadra azzurra” didn’t panic and after 24 minutes, Guerra and her teammates ended the set 25-21 in Italy’s favour. 

While Greece also found themselves ahead (13-8) in the second set, they were unable to close it successfully.

Things didn’t change much in the third set, with Italy displaying powerful attacks and a very strong block-defense organisation. A service mistake by captain Strantzali dashed Greece’s hopes of a comeback. 

Poland 3, Slovenia 2 (25-19, 12-25, 22-25, 25-20, 15-12) 

In the opening match in Bar, Poland overcame Slovenia in five sets. Although the Slovenians won the second and third set, they couldn’t sustain their challenge. Both teams delighted the fans with their energetic and combative volleyball. 

The best scorer of the match was Poland’s opposite Malwina Smarzek with 25 points, while Slovenia’s powerful spiker Nika Markovic booked 24 kills. 

At the first technical break, Grzegorz Kosatka’s young Polish squad led 8-3 with his players showing more power at the net. Even though Slovenian setter and captain Eva Mori sped up her offensive game, Poland never looked back in the set. 

With poor attack and passing statistics in the first set, the young Slovenians needed to change something to make an impact in the second and Joze Casar’s ladies took more risks with aggressive serves. On the other side, Poland struggled with imprecise passing and some misunderstanding at the net. As a consequence, Slovenia won the second and third sets quite easily.

However, it was not good enough. The young Polish ladies kept their cool in the fourth and fifth sets. After 124 minutes of intense play, Magdalena Damaske blocked for a hard-fought Polish win. 

Czech Republic 3, Montenegro 1 (25-17, 15-25, 25-13, 27-25) 

Compared to the first two matches, the Czech Republic’s win over Montenegro in front of 2,000 home fans didn’t have quite the same intensity. Although there were some great rallies, there were too many errors, especially in passing.

The top scorer was Czech Michaela Mlejnkova with 20 points, while Iva Mandic scored 15 for the hosts.

The young Czechs had a better start to the match, but in the second set Marko Radusinovic’s ladies put much more pressure on the Czech passers. It helped, as the quality of the Czech service reception fell significantly. As a consequence, the Montenegrin ladies levelled the match at one set apiece.

In the third and fourth sets, the Czechs regained the momentum and never looked back. Lucie Nova ended the match with a well-timed spike through the middle. 

*****

The preliminary phase of the 2013 CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball European Championship is split into two pools of six teams with the top two from each pool advancing to the semifinals. Pool I comprises hosts Montenegro, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, the Czech Republic and Poland. Pool II sees hosts Serbia up against Russia, Germany, France, Turkey and The Netherlands. 

The tournament’s final ranking will determine the six teams that will represent Europe at this year’s FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Thailand, as well as the eight nations taking part at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht. 

The matches of preliminary Pool I as well as all semifinal and final matches are available live and for free at www.laola1.tv.

Pool II matches are streamed on the official website of the Volleyball Federation of Serbia at http://eng.ossrb.org


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