Volleyball heavyweights make semis at European Champs
The winner and runner-up of the European Championship will qualify for the FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship Poland 2014 while the gold medalists will also get the opportunity to compete at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup scheduled for this coming November in Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan.
Russia became the first team to book a ticket to the final weekend at Parken stadium in Copenhagen after edging France 3:1 (25-17, 17-25, 25-22, and 25-21) to open the program of the 1/4 finals at ERGO Arena in Gdansk. The 2012 Olympic champions and winners of the 2013 FIVB World League will play on Saturday 2011 European champions Serbia in a remake of the semifinal of the past edition held in Vienna. “We are obviously happy with our victory after a very tough game with France. Today it turned out that we are better than France” Russia team captain Sergey Makarov said. “France performed well and we had some problems but we eventually managed to make it through. Their players are young and very talented so I think France will be a very tough opponent in the near future. We now want to relax for a while and start preparing for the semis”.
Serbia got the right to defend their title this coming weekend at Parken stadium in Copenhagen after the 2011 European champions beat Belgium in the second quarter final held at NRGi Arena in Aarhus. Serbia edged the so-called “Red Dragons” in four sets (25-22, 22-25, 30-28, and 25-18) to play Russia in the semis. Belgium could not cash five set balls in the third set and after that the gold medalists from the past edition comfortably cruised to a well-deserved 3:1 win. Serbia’s Aleksandar Atanasijevic who scored 29 points to pace his side said: “We knew that today’s match would be really difficult and once again we showed a really big heart. We had our chances in the second set but we started to make some stupid mistakes and I made some untypical mistakes on the attack and we were not in the right place. The third set was the highlight of today’s match. They played really good and we did not serve well. They had their chances but in the end we showed that we never give up until the last ball and this win is very important to us because our goal before the competition was to get to the semifinal. I am happy for these guys because this is a new team and no one expected that we would reach the semifinal in the first big competition and now we are without any pressure. We lost 3-2 in the World League against Russia but we will get our chance and we must use this chance, otherwise they will kill us”.
What a match in Aarhus where the fans were treated to high flying and intoxicating Volleyball as Finland and Olympic bronze medalists Italy clashed in the first quarter final of the day. Italy came back from a set down to win 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-22, and 25-22) and get the right to challenge Bulgaria in the semis. Mauro Berruto, head coach of Italy, said after the game: “We again had to change the starting six and that affected our performance in the first set. We have to find the balance in our game, but when that came together like in the second set, I think we play very good. I am very happy, that we are now in the Final Four in Copenhagen. That has been our goal right from the beginning. I really think that the guys played together as a team today. Now I hope that many Italian fans will come to Copenhagen and Parken to support the team. The Italian fans that have supported us in Odense and here in Aarhus have been great and the team really appreciates their cheers!"
On Wednesday evening in the second quarterfinal at ERGO Arena in Gdansk Bulgaria beat Germany 3:1 (28-30, 27-25, 25-22, and 25-20) to make the semis of the 2013 CEV VELUX EuroVolley. Bulgaria was hence able to take their revenge from the 2:3 defeat they had suffered to Germany this past Saturday in Gdynia in what was the second round of action in prelim Pool D. On Saturday Bulgaria will play Italy in the second semifinal scheduled for 6 pm local time, a match that will prolong the rivalry that got started last year in the bronze medal match of the London Olympics and continued this past July at the World League Finals in Mar del Plata, Argentina. “We had played very well during the previous game against Germany,” said Camillo Placi, Bulgaria’s head coach. “And today we played good enough to win, but not as good as last time.”
For further information about the 2013 CEV VELUX EuroVolley visit www.cev.lu as well as the official website www.eurovolley2013.dk