Italy in impressive comeback at CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball European Championship
Bar, Montenegro, March 31, 2013 - After the second day of competition in Bar, 2011 runner-up Italy remains the sole unbeaten team in Pool I. Slovenia triumphed over the Czech Republic in a 3-1 victory while Greece did the same in their match against Montenegro to take their first wins at the 2013 CEV Girls’ Youth Volleyball European Championship.
Italy versus Poland 3-2 (25-27, 16-25, 25-16, 25-23, 15-6)
In today’s first Pool I duel, Italy made an impressive comeback against Poland. Trailing 0-2, the young Italian talents bounced back valiantly to leave the court after 141 minutes as winners.
Anna Nicoletti led Italy with 24 points, while Malwina Smarzek scored 18 times for Poland.
There was not much to separate the two teams in the early stages of the match. 2011 runner-up Italy was a little bit stronger in passing and spiking, while Poland dominated with their blocking and serving. At 24-22, the “squadra azzurra” had two set balls, but couldn’t conclude the match. The Eastern Europeans fired back with a successful attack by Magdalena Damaske and two block kills. After 31 minutes, Damaske added an ace to her personal account to offer Poland a hard-earned 1-0 set lead. Italy committed 13 errors in the opening set.
Poland’s comeback at the end of the first period was the first key moment of the match. Grzegorz Kosatka’s squad gained momentum, while the young Italians had a hard time. The Pieragnoli team were unable to find their habitual rhythm either at the net or behind the service line in this set. Poland, on the other hand, set the pace with exemplary fighting spirit.
The Italian side required several substitutions to change the run of events. Second setter Carlotta Cambi gave the South Europeans new hope while Italy turned the tables in the middle of the third set with what was definitely the second pivotal moment of today’s duel. In the fifth and deciding set, Italy continued their winning streak and never looked back (15-6).
The Czech Republic versus Slovenia 1-3 (25-19, 13-25, 13-25, 24-26)
Slovenia proved too strong for the Czech Republic. The upcoming Slovenian stars defeated the Czech Republic in today’s second Pool I match 3-1, putting their records to 1-1.
The best scorer of the match was Slovenia’s Anita Sobocan with 20 points.
The young Slovenians needed some time to start their engines. After their 2-3 loss against Poland the day before, the Joze Casar’s team seemed anxious at the start of their important duel versus the Czech Republic. On the other hand, the young Czech talents promptly benefited from the weak Slovenian service reception. Six service winners and four block kills were the direct consequence of Slovenia’s instability.
Nevertheless, in the second and third set, the favourites from Slovenia restored order. They served much better, improved their combinations at the net and made less mistakes in attack, literally outclassing their opponents in sets two and three (25-13, 25-13).
Even though the Czech Republic showed more resistance in the fourth set, their hopes for a win gradually vanished into thin air. Five consecutive points from 18-22 to 23-22 were unfortunately not good enough to conclude but Katja Mihevic ended the set and match in Slovenia’s favor with a well-timed service winner.
Greece versus Montenegro 3-1 (25-23, 14-25, 25-20, 25-10)
Apparently Greece have recovered well from their straight-set defeat against Italy the day before as the upcoming Greek talents overpowered host Montenegro in four sets tonight. Although the host played an almost perfect second set, they were not persistent enough to bother their opponents from Greece throughout the entire match.
The best scorer of the match was Greek captain Olga Strantzali with 24 points.
Compared to Saturday’s duel versus tournament favourites Italy, Greece felt much more pressure tonight. Dimitrios Floros’ squad needed a three-point win versus Montenegro to keep their hopes alive for a possible final eight spot. Both teams experienced many ups and downs in the first set. It was finally Greek Alexandra Psoma who concluded the first period with a powerful service winner.
However, the Montenegrin reaction was prompt. The Marko Radusinovic’s team displayed all its strength in the second set. The host literally outshined their rivals with excellent block work and clever defense tactics.
But it was not good enough. Greece bounced back fearlessly in the third and fourth set, progressively dashing Montenegro’s hopes for an eventual comeback.
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
For quotes and additional info, please visit www.cev.lu.