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Belgium's boys beat Italy on opening day of action in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Belgium caused the major sensation of the day in Pool I of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys by besting Italy with the score of 3:1

Laktaši, Bosnia and Herzegovina, April 13, 2013 – Belgium managed to overcome Italy in the most interesting match on the first competition day in Final Round Pool I of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys.

Coach Steven Vanmedegael allowed the opponent to take only one set in the interesting opening game at Laktaši. The other two matches of the day were relatively quick three-setters as Poland defeated Austria and Slovenia disappointed the home team of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The top six of the Championship co-hosted by Serbia and neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina will qualify for the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship scheduled for later this summer in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico.

Belgium vs. Italy 3:1 (25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 26-24)

Pool I saw an exciting opener between Belgium and Italy. The Southern Europeans may have been taken by surprise by their opponents as Belgium claimed the three points from this encounter with a 3-1 victory. Italian captain Sebastiano Milan topped the scorers’ chart with 17 points, while Jonas Colson with 15 scored the most for the winning team.
From the very beginning of the first set Belgium started piling up an advantage in the score. More prolific in serving and blocking, the team of head coach Steven Vanmedegael opened a 6-point gap for 12-6. At 20-14 and later again at 23-18 it already seemed pretty clear who would win the set, but the Italians had different thoughts on their minds. They were able to narrow their lag to only a point, but in the end a powerful spike gave the Belgians the set at 25-23.

Italy took a small lead at the beginning of the second set, but was able to maintain it only through the first technical time-out. Immediately after that, Belgium took control by scoring 6 points in a row with Laszlo De Paepe on the serve and another 6 a couple of rotations later, this time with Lowie Stuer behind the line, to up the score to a convincing 19-10. Italy tried hard to recover from this blow, but its efforts only led to a less embarrassing lag at the final 25-19, shaped up by a kill hit from Arno Van De Velde through the middle for the last point.

The Italians came out for the third set very focused. They reduced their unforced errors while stepping up their serving efforts. Oreste Cavuto’s successful attacks and serves helped his team gain a solid advantage at 18-10 and it was now Belgium’s turn to fight back. Stuer’s performance from the serving line once again gave Italy a hard time. A series of 5 points gave the Belgians some hope for a turnaround as soon after they were only a point behind at 19-20. However, the team of Andrea Tomasini kept on their toes and made sure they did not let the set slip away - 25-20.

The fourth set was the most exciting one and it turned into a real roller coaster with its ups and downs in the score. The beginning belonged to the Belgians as they piled up a 6-2 lead. Italy was quick with the answer - 7:6 and then 12-8. It stayed in control almost through the end as it had 2 set points at 24-22. After Belgium saved the first one it was Robbe Vandeweyer’s turn to serve. Two aces down the road it was 26-24 and Robbe fell into the arms of his teammates.

Poland vs. Austria 3:0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-19)

The powerful youth team of Poland, one of the major pre-favorites at the tournament, did not allow any surprises at its opening match of the championship and defeated Austria in straight sets. Paul Buchegger of Austria was the top scorer of the match with 20 points, while Aleksander Sliwka became Poland’s most prolific player with 13.

Poland dominated the first set, especially after the first technical time-out that came at 8-6. Pawel Gryc was almost unstoppable in serving (3 aces) and attacking (75%) as Poland piled up a huge lead to finish the set at 25-15. Both teams stepped up their efforts in offense during the second set and this was particularly true for the Austrian side. Nina Sawatzki’s team still trailed in the score, but this time much closer behind their strong opponents. With Rafal Szymura upping substantially his spiking efficiency in this set and Austria still making more unforced errors than their rivals, Poland won by 25-22.
With Paul Buchegger continuing to be very prolific in Austria’s offense, his team looked for a way back into the match at the beginning of the third set. It took an early 3-point lead and kept it intact through the first technical time-out (8-5). After that Poland gradually turned things around. Aleksander Sliwka and captain Bartosz Bucko led the Polish attack into piling up another large gap and a powerful one-man block by Krzysztof Bienkowski put an end to the set at 25-19.

Bosnia & Herzegovina vs. Slovenia 0:3 (13-25, 15-25, 23-25)

In the last match of Pool I, Slovenia went through Bosnia and Herzegovina in straight sets for 73 minutes of action for the excited crowd at the sports hall. Primož Vidmar was the best scorer of this game with 14 points for the winning side. Toncek Stern added another 13. Captain Muris Krivokapa became Bosnia and Herzegovina’s top scorer with 7 points. Despite playing against the host team, the Slovenian boys felt at home as a very large and noisy crowd of fans supported them whole-heartedly from the stands of the Laktaši sports palace throughout the match. The team of Iztok Ksela totally outplayed its opponent in all elements of the game during the first two sets. The Slovenian serve made life difficult for the team of Bosnia and Herzegovina as it piled up 6 aces against none for the opponents in these two sets. Excluding the first point in set 2, there was not a moment when the home boys were in the lead as Slovenia won convincingly by 25-13 and 25-15.

The third set was a different story. In the beginning it looked like it was going to be just like the previous two as Slovenia quickly went 7-1 and then 11-4 up in the score. But it was finally time for Bosnia and Herzegovina to fight back. Scoring 5 points in a row with Dušan Kuzmanovic behind the serving line, they came back for 9-11 and made things interesting. A while later the BIH team not only caught up with the opponent but also took the lead by 22-19. However, Slovenia held up and, after trailing 22-23, scored 3 consecutive points with a direct kill by Jakob Rojnik for the winner.

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