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19/05/2017 22:56
Ukraine and Serbia to fight for ticket to U21 Men’s World Championship
2017 FIVB U21 Men Volleyball World Championship - European Qualification

Luxembourg, May 19, 2017. As many had predicted, Ukraine and Serbia will be fighting on Saturday for a much-coveted ticket to the 2017 FIVB U21 Men’s World Championship after these teams extended their winning streak following compelling victories over Bulgaria and France on Friday. The ‘big final’ will be the major highlight of the European qualifier – Pool E ending on Saturday in Požarevac. Poland and hosts Germany started their campaign in Pool F with speedy wins over Belgium and Latvia to shape up a close fight for the remaining ticket to this year’s Worlds scheduled for late June in the Czech Republic.

Pool E in Požarevac (SRB)

Ukraine maintained their unbeaten record in Požarevac but had to work harder than expected before edging Bulgaria 3-1 (22-25, 26-24, 27-25, 25-21) after 106 minutes of play. In a very interesting and high-quality encounter, the outcome could have easily been the other way around. Bulgaria won the first set, but they could not hold on to it. In the final stages of the second and third sets, Ukraine performed in style and resembled to the team that won silver at the last edition of the U20 Men’s European Championship. They played patiently, building their game systematically, and they fought hard to turn the score around, which resulted in winning the two following sets. Bulgaria could not recover from this setback, so Ukraine somewhat easier dealt with them in the fourth set, wrapping it up at 25-21. Dmytro Viietskyi of Ukraine top scored in the match with 22 points.

“Bulgaria surprised us because they left their first setter on the bench and this new guy was incredible. It was very hard to play today, but I am satisfied that we managed to overcome every obstacle, we showed a lot of energy and character in the deciding moments,” said Mykola Pasazhin, head coach of Ukraine.

Later in the evening, Serbia kept their perfect record as well, beating France 3-0 (25-20, 33-31, 25-23) after 91 minutes of play, in front of 780 spectators. The match was pretty even in the first set, and the teams were exchanging the lead frequently. After 20-19 to the home side, Serbia won four consecutive points and practically decided the outcome of the set. It was more of the same in the second set, but this time France went up 20-16 and Serbia managed to tie the score at 20-20. After that, the teams battled hard for each point, and in the end, Serbia was lucky enough to win in “overtime” at 33-31. Right from the start of the third set Serbia created a margin of three to four points and successfully maintained it almost until the end, but then France managed to equalise at 20-20, and to get in front by two points (22-20). Serbia scored three consecutive points to retake the lead (23-22) forcing the French side to call for a time-out. However, Serbia would not lose this opportunity, as they kept their focus and wrapped it up at 25-23 for yet another flawless victory at the tournament. David Mehić of Serbia paced the home side by scoring 16 points.

“The most important thing is that we won. I expected that we would not be at our best today, but it is normal. In the deciding moments, we were good enough and I want to congratulate my players on this victory,” said Vladimir Vasović, head coach of Serbia.

Pool F in Berlin (GER)

Although Belgium put up a good fight throughout the entire match, Poland used their physical edge to cruise to a 3-0 victory (25-21, 25-21, 25-19) in the opening match of the tournament taking place at Sportforum in Berlin. “We had quite some opportunities to take the lead in the first set and in the second set as well, but unfortunately we could not use them,” said the Belgian head coach Kris Eyckmans calmly. As for the Polish junior team, which has been practicing together for just two weeks after the players finished their duties in the national league, not everything went smoothly and the error rate was too high for the odds-on favourite. In some situations, you could see the disappointment appearing on the face of their head coach Sebastian Pawlik. However, he knows that the chemistry within his team is going to improve with every match. “We were able to play very dynamically and we brought out our athleticism,” he said.

Later in the evening, hosts Germany played Latvia before a small crowd of 250 fans. The final score (3-1; 23-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-18) does not quite reflect how close the match was and how much effort the Germans had to put in to win it against the physically inferior but still very strong opponents. The teams exchanged the lead back and forth in all sets, with both sides suffering some psychological setbacks along the way to make things easier for the opposition. The German players coached by Johan Verstappen took the lead in the third set and this is where the course of the game changed in favour of the home team. Verstappen was pleased with the team’s performance and the focus his players showed throughout the match. “Too much nervousness is never good, but on the other hand it doesn’t work without it. You just have to overcome that phase,” he said. Latvia Team Manager Valdis Jankovskis stressed that despite all efforts put in by his team, their many mistakes helped the Germans take control of the game.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

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20/05/2017 22:29:00
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18/05/2017 21:38:00
Serbia and Ukraine off to flying start at Men’s U21 World Championship qualifier

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