Poland in pole position for fourth semifinal spot at CEV Girls' Youth Volleyball Championship
Bar, Montenegro, April 3, 2013 – Poland is a step closer to the FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Thailand after winning their Pool I match at the 2013 CEV Girls’ Youth Volleyball European Championship. Poland came through after a tough challenge by the Czech Republic on Wednesday to put themselves in the driving seat for the second semifinal spot of Pool I. Greece staged a strong comeback to down Slovenia, while Italy continued their winning streak with a relaxed straight-set win over hosts Montenegro.
Greece 3, Slovenia 2 (20-25, 14-25, 25-15, 25-18,
As Greece came from 2-0 down before clinching their second win, Slovenia dropped to a 1-3 win-loss record with both teams experiencing substantial difficulties in service reception.
Anthi Vasilantonaki contributed 18 spikes, three aces and one block for Greece to lead her team with 22 points, while captain Olga Strantzali added another 22, including four aces and two blocks. Slovenia committed 24 errors in reception.
Both teams started strongly in the opening set, where Slovenia maintained a four-point advantage to 16-12. Greece’s blockers were dominant at the net, while Slovenia’s players demonstrated controlled serves and spikes. After the game resumed, Greece committed two unforced errors and Slovenia took the set 25-20 with impressive determination.
Slovenia kept their momentum in the second set and jumped to an early 8-2 lead, while Greece struggled with service reception. Slovenia exploited Greece’s weak points to win the game at 25-14.
After going down 0-2, Dimitrios Floros’ squad fought back bravely. They started serving better to put pressure on Slovenia. Their excellent serving and two block kills by Ioanna Gkountimenko helped Greece pull a setback.
Slovenia’s reception errors severely dented their morale and allowed the Greeks to take control of the match in the fourth set. As in their match with Italy on Monday, Slovenian libero Maja Pahor was the main target of the opponents’ servers.
Greece pulled out excellent defensive stops and served flawlessly against the Slovenians in the fifth set. Anthi Vasilantonaki closed the match for Greece with a blistering winner down the line.
Poland 3, Czech Republic 1 (23-25, 25-13, 25-18,
Poland overcame a tough challenge by the Czechs to secure their semifinal spot.
Malwina Smarzek and Magdalena Damaske combined for 40 points to lead Poland to their third victory in Pool I. Poland booked 17 block winners.
The Czech Republic got off to a good start with a 16-13 lead in the opening set as their servers stymied Poland’s offensive game. Michaela Mlejnkova and Katerina Slamova were, as usual, lethal in their attack for the Czech Republic. Poland saved five setpoints but couldn’t prevent Slamova hammering the Mikasa down on the sixth.
In the second set, Poland’s Smarzek helped improve her team’s serving power as she ran a series of nine consecutive missiles to outscore the helpless Czech side early on. Poland built a commanding lead thanks to impressive offensive combinations and four winning blocks. Smarzek added more uncontrollable hammers from the service line and got help from her teammates at the net as they drew even at 1-1.
The third set was closer as both refused to let the other take the upper hand. The Czech Republic kept Poland at bay but the young Polish talents gained strength and increased their lead towards the end of the set. Middle-blocker Malgorzata Smieszek finally put an end to the Czech challenge with a service winner on Slamova.
Poland looked determined to finish off the match with a 3-0 run in the middle of the fourth set. The Czech Republic, however, made some good runs to stay in the game, including six consecutive points that took the score from 15-18 to 21-18. But Poland followed their game plan to regain the momentum at 23-23 before sealing the set at 27-25.
Poland’s captain Paulina Baldyga said, “Today’s match was very difficult for us, but at the same time very important. We were full of enthusiasm and will try to keep the same atmosphere to win our last pool match against Greece.”
The coach of the Czech Republic team, Leos Chalupa said, “We couldn’t find our usual team spirit today. Now we’ll need a good result against Italy to keep our chances alive for a top-eight spot.”
Italy 3, Montenegro 0 (25-10, 25-15, 25-9)
Italy looked very relaxed in their win against hosts Montenegro.
Alice Degradi and Elisa Zanette joined for a total of 16 points, almost outscoring the whole Montenegrin team’s output.
The Italians took an early advantage as Montenegro missed a real power hitter to bother the solid Italian defence. Italy took good care of Montenegro’s attackers, as their production was limited to just five points in the first set. The “squadra azzurra” finished the set without a major challenge from the hosts.
Italy varied their attacks from drop shots to strong kills that made it difficult for Montenegro to respond. Montenegro struggled to execute a solid offensive game due to their poor reception. Six block kills helped Italy cruise to an easy 2-0 set lead.
At that point, Italy’s head coach Luca Pieragnoli had already substituted the major part of his squad to give the reserve players some playing time. They quickly repaid his trust with some inspiring combinations at the net as Italy cruised to a 3-0 win.
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.