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13/08/2015 21:35
Former Y.R. of Macedonia surprise Estonia and will meet Slovenia in the big Final of European League
2015 CEV Volleyball European League - Men

Walbrzych, Poland, August 13, 2015. The Former Y.R. of Macedonia and Slovenia will clash for the 2015 CEV Volleyball European League title. In the first semi-final of the Final Four being held in the Polish city of Walbrzych, the Slovenian squad upset local heroes of Poland 3:0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-21), and confirmed its candidacy to rule the tournament after a convincing three-setter victory. Then, the Former Y.R. of Macedonia achieved a surprising triumph by 3:0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-22) over Estonia in the second semi-final, so to remarkably earn the ticket for the big game on Friday. 

Click here for more information, including statistics, a comprehensive picture gallery and competition programme.   

Poland vs Slovenia 0:3 (15-25, 21-25, 21-25)

The thrilling Final Four of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European League - Men lived a showdown of effective Volleyball, in a match determined by the efficiency and fighting spirit of the Slovenian side. The compelling combination of powerful spikes and faultless performance drove Slovenia to eliminate the hosts from the race for the competition title.

Andrea Giani’s men soon took the lead of the game and used Alen Pajenk’s blocks and Klemen Cebulj’s attacks to impose an early dominant presentation of their merits in the quest for victory. The Polish attempts to control their rivals’ efficiency in the first set proved unsuccessful as Slovenia broke the period after the second technical time-out. Slovenia produced an advantage that Poland was unable to erase, and the convincing 25-15 in the first set served to corroborate Slovenia’s status of favourites in the tournament.

Powered by the support from the stands, Poland fought to stop Slovenians’ mighty start in the match. The local heroes’ efforts in defence and Adrian Buchowski’s spikes allowed the host team to put a momentary halt to Slovenia’s impetus, thus recovering from the initial lead established by the visiting squad (15:15). After the tie, a brief equality was established in the set, but the Slovenian offensive power ultimately became the decisive factor. The attacks from the visiting side finished the equaliser, and a back court spike by Mitja Gasparini represented the 25-21 that paved Slovenia's way to victory.

Polish wishes of a comeback vanished as soon as Slovenia claimed a conclusive 10:5 lead in the start of the third period. Despite of the locals’ attempts to force a recovery, Slovenia maintained their drive and their spirit, and Andrea Giani’s disciples took the quick route towards the title-deciding match of the tournament, much to the disappointment of the local fans.

“Slovenia gave us a good lesson of Volleyball tonight. In matches like this, we need to be braver in our game and we need to take more risks”, declared the coach of Poland, Andrzej Kowal. Polish captain Szymon Romac commented:  “We lost the match but we did not finish our participation in the tournament. We still have the chance to win Bronze and we will do anything we can to get it”.

“Experience is what makes the difference in games like this. In the preparation for this match I told my players to focus on side-out attacks and this was the key in the second set, which was important for us to win the game. Consistency is very important for our team and we proved that today,” stated the coach of Slovenia, Andrea Giani. Meanwhile, Slovenian captain Tine Urnaut added: “I am very happy for the victory. I want to congratulate the Polish team for a great European League season, because they are a good team and physically strong”. 

Estonia vs Former Y.R. of Macedonia 0:3 (23-25, 22-25, 22-25)

The Former Y.R. of Macedonia produced the big surprise of the tournament so far after defeating front-runners Estonia in the second semi-final of the Final Four. Following their last-minute qualification to the matches being held in Walbrzych, the Macedonian team presented a passionate and powerful performance to reach the title-deciding game, in an extraordinary sporting feat.   

The squad directed by Zarko Ristoski demonstrated with an intense start of the match that they had not arrived in Walbrzych to be the guest of stone of the competition. A starting 10:5 in the first set forced Estonia to present their highest level of performance to try to avoid being exceeded by the enthusiastic Macedonian squad (16:15). Despite Estonian attempts, the momentum remained nonetheless in the Balkan side of the net, and this impetus ultimately represented the distinguishing feature in the disputed end of the period. Estonia managed to save a set-ball, but the Former Y.R. of Macedonia confirmed their poise and excellence with a powerful quick spike for the final 25-23.

As the match progressed, the stars of the two sides gave a step forward. Macedonian opposite Jovica Simovski lived up to his condition of best scorer and best spiker of the competition thus far and took over the offensive actions of his team, while Oliver Venno followed suit on the Estonian side of the court. However, the Former Y.R. of Macedonia presented a remarkable disposition and hunger for victory and achieved a decisive and unrecoverable late lead in the set. A block by Zoran Gjorgjevski put the 25-22 on the scoreboard for a rather surprising 2:0.

The Estonian side braced to keep their unbeaten record of ten victories in ten matches in the competition achieved in the League Round and searched for the comeback in the third period. Even as Estonia established a fiercer presentation on the court, the attempts by the indisputable Pool A leaders collapsed against an impressively inspired Macedonian side. The powerful blocks by the Balkan players gave the Former Y.R. of Macedonia the required edge to finish the Estonians’ wishes of recovery and to confirm the surprising upset. Estonia managed to save three match-balls, but the Macedonian players kept their drive to make history in the tournament. 

“Congratulations to Former Y.R. of Macedonia; Tonight they showed what being a team means, and how a team should play regardless who the opponent is. In the end, both teams seemed equal and it came down to a couple of balls, that’s why one is the winner and one is the loser,” stated the captain of Estonia Kert Toobal. Meanwhile the coach of Estonia, Gheorghe Cretu declared: “The Macedonian team deserved the win. From the beginning of the match they showed character and in those close moments of the game, which there were not too many, they showed confidence and that they were able to step over as a group. I think sometimes these lessons are necessary to make a step forward and to have new motivation. We need to understand that we have to come out (to the court) as a team and not as a group of individuals”.

“It is like a dream come through. We do not have big players, so we know that we can only win if we play as a team, like we did tonight. Estonia is a great team, we lost badly to them in the first weekend so this is why I wanted to play against them in the Final Four, because I have never lost so badly against a team like then,” commented Macedonian captain Nikola Gjorgiev.

The coach of the team, Zarko Ristoski pointed out the importance of the achievement and declared: “This is a very big night for us. Our team have grown from match to match, and in the end we showed that our team deserved being the finalist. I want to congratulate my players because they agreed on everything that we had planned. They promised that they would fight for every point in every set, and they did that. I am also very proud that we made a step forward from our previous success in European League. Last year it was the first time for our country to play in the semi-finals, and now, being in the Final is the biggest achievement of Macedonian Volleyball. We promise that we do not stop here. Tomorrow is a new day and a new challenge”. 

News nr. 3 of 95
14/08/2015 21:44:00
Slovenia win European League title!
13/08/2015 13:00:00
Estonia’s detour in quest for European League glory

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