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Europe starts qualifying for 2014 Women's World Champs

Slovak players celebrate after getting past Liechtenstein on the first day of the qualification tournament for the 2014 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship running this weekend in Poprad
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, May 24, 2013 – A total of six qualification tournaments are taking place this weekend in Europe also for the 2014 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship. The winners of these round-robin tournaments will advance directly to the third round scheduled for early January 2014 while the second-ranked will continue their quest for a World Championship slot via the second round coming up in October. At the end of this three-step process, 9 European teams will join hosts Italy for the major highlight coming up next year in late September-early October in six cities of the boot-shaped peninsula.

Croatia and Montenegro opened the first-round qualifier for the 2014 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship – Pool A by edging in straight sets their opponents, namely Bosnia & Herzegovina and the F.Y.R. of Macedonia respectively. By exploiting their experience and physical qualities, Croatia needed only 66 minutes to edge Bosnia and Herzegovina in straight sets (25-15, 25-18, and 25-10) in the first match of the group. Samantha Fabris – who plays in Italy – paced Croatia with 14 points. The hosts of Montenegro did also need only three sets to edge the F.Y.R. of Macedonia (25-10, 25-20, and 25-20). The local heroines easily claimed the first set but Macedonia found their way into the game in set 2 moving to the front at 20:16. However, helped by their fans, the hosts clawed back and could win that set too chiefly via good serving of their setter Marija Bojovic. The third set was very close too but Montenegro – anchored by their captain Jelena Cvijovic – could finish it off at 25-20 for a well-deserved 3:0 win.

The home heroines of Belarus opened Pool B in Mogilev by edging Finland in three straight sets (25-23, 28-26, and 25-10). Tatsiana Markevich top scored in the end with 18 points while Paulina Vilponen paced Finland with 16. “I knew that the first match here in Mogilev wouldn’t have been easy for us. Already last year Finland had showed that they are a well-organized team. It was an interesting match and a very important victory for us” Belarusian mentor Viktar Hancharou said. Israel did the same with Denmark claiming the opening match of the tournament in straight sets too (25-12, 25-13, and 25-15).

The home favorites of Belgium started out their World Championship adventure by scoring a straight-set win over Portugal (25-11, 25-9, and 25-16) on the second day of the first-round qualifier running in Kortrijk (Pool C). On the other hand, after their speedy win over Northern Ireland (25-6, 25-2, and 25-10) the Swiss girls mentored by Svetlana Ilic keep a perfect record and confirm their status of closest contender for the sole ticket at stake to advance directly to the third qualification round scheduled for early January 2014.

In Pool D the hosts of Ukraine scored on Friday a straight-set win over Albania (25-9, 25-14, and 25-17) to open the first-round qualifier for the 2014 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship in Lutsk. The local heroines mentored by head coach Gariy Yegiazarov did easily control the game from start up to its end. In the other match of the day Hungary edged Moldova in straight sets too (25-16, 25-17, and 25-13) to confirm its role of closest competitor for first place in the Pool and the ticket to directly advance to the third qualification round scheduled for early January 2014. Dora Horvath top scored with 13 points as Rita Liliom and Renata Sandor added 12 each to Hungary’s tally.

Slovakia and Greece started on Friday their World Championship campaign by scoring two straight wins on the first day of action in Poprad, venue of Pool E. The home heroines – cheered on by some 500 fans – easily disposed of Liechtenstein (25-9, 25-10, and 25-10) while Greece did also best Austria in three sets (25-23, 25-20, and 25-22). Slovakia used their second lines to easily edge Liechtenstein in straight sets. Though the guests played with glowing hearts, the difference in quality and physical skills was too big. Slovakia was better in every aspect of the game and could win in three sets. “I am glad that my players could follow the plan we had worked out and that they controlled the game. We have confirmed our role of pre-favorite in this tournament and I am happy that my players did not underestimate the opponent. Tomorrow it will be more difficult with Austria but I hope that we will win” Slovak head coach Miroslav Cada said.

On Friday Lithuania and Estonia scored their first win on the opening day of the qualifier for the 2014 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship running this weekend in Daugavpils, Latvia (Pool F). Lithuania opened the program by edging Iceland in straight sets (25-15, 25-12, and 25-18) while Estonia needed only three sets to best the hosts of Latvia (25-13, 25-16, and 25-9). In their speedy win over Latvia, Estonia was paced by Anu Ennok with 16 points while Viktorija Brice scored 7 for the home side. “We had problems with our block and also in reception. If we had played better in these fundamentals, the game would have been more equal” Latvia’s head coach Janis Leitis said. “I hope for a better game tomorrow as we play Lithuania”.

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