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19/05/2017 21:55
Pre-favourites look dominant on first day of Women’s U20 World Champs qualifiers
2017 FIVB U20 Women Volleyball World Championship - European Qualification

Luxembourg, May 19, 2017. Two qualifiers to this year’s FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship started on Friday in Wieliczka and Turgutlu, resulting in four 3-0 wins out of as many matches. In Pool E, Poland and Belgium literally left no chance to their opponents from Germany and Bulgaria, respectively whereas hosts Turkey and Russia rallied to just as comprehensive victories in their matchups with Croatia and the Netherlands in Pool F. The eventual winners of both tournaments will qualify to this year’s World Championship in Mexico, thus joining there Italy and Serbia who have secured their tickets by virtue of their position in the latest FIVB ranking for this age category.

Pool E in Wieliczka (POL)  

Only six sets were played on Friday in Wieliczka, Poland. The hosts passed their first test with flying colours, defeating Germany 25-12, 25-18 and 25-17. The local fans cheered loudly for their team, who had the upper hand in all elements of the game. Poland’s Natalia Murek was leading her teammates with a consistently good performance throughout the game, especially from the service line but also topping the charts in spiking and the total number of points scored (19).

“Our team executed everything that we planned just perfectly. We had a detailed analysis of our opponents and did not allow their leader Hanna Orthmann to play her best. Credit goes to the whole team here,” said Poland coach Wieslaw Popik. Germany coach Martin Watne Frydnes, although troubled by the loss, underlined that the road to the World Championship is still open. “We will fight for it in the matches against Belgium and Bulgaria,” he said.

If the first match had resulted in the total domination of one team, the game between Belgium and Bulgaria was completely one-sided too. Bulgaria struggled against the visibly stronger rivals and kept losing points on their own errors. Coach Dominique Baeyens’ players made it to the last whistle without too much trouble in 67 minutes, winning 25-16, 25-7 and 25-14.

Pool F in Turgutlu (TUR)

Russia stormed to a 3-0 victory (25-9, 25-19, 25-21) over the Netherlands in the opening match of the tournament in Turgutlu. Russia set the tempo of the game right from the beginning of the match (5-1, 8-2) and even two time-outs asked by the Dutch coach could not slow their pace down (11-3). Russia had a double-digit lead at the second technical time-out (16-6) and eventually wrapped it up at 25-9. Russia forced an early Dutch time-out in the second set too (6-1) and after the break the Oranjes fought back, cutting their deficit down to three points at 10-7. However, Russia soon resumed their march and eventually took the second set 25-19. After a close start, Russia broke away early in the third set (6-3, 8-5) before the Netherlands closed in by scoring three points in a row. As they trailed 8-13, the Dutch team took their second time-out and even though they almost drew level coming back from 17-21 to 20-21, they could not prevent Russia from finishing the match in three sets (25-21).

Vadim Pankov, Russia coach: “My team looked very concentrated in the first set and they followed my instructions. Even though we made quite many mistakes, we were able to win the second set. We started the third set in a good way but the Netherlands played very well too before we managed to finish the match and take three points from it.”

Maria Vorobyeva, Russia captain: “We are happy to start the tournament with a victory over the Netherlands. When you look at the score, it seems like it was an easy win but it was not. The Netherlands have a strong team and we could feel and see it today. I hope our winning streak will continue until the end of the tournament.”

Julien Van de Vyver, coach of the Netherlands: “We made too many silly mistakes. We have a talented team and the right skills to be competitive at this level but we could not show this today. This applies especially to the last set where we were about to show our potential but Russia were on one of their best days. Now we have to forget this match and focus on tomorrow’s game.”

The home stars of Turkey started their campaign in Turgutlu with a comprehensive 3-0 victory (25-13, 25-20, 25-22) over Croatia. Turkey opened proceedings by scoring four points in a row before Croatia fought back to 4-3. Turkey edged ahead at both technical time-outs (8-4, 16-9) with the help of their raucous supporters; the hosts scored a number of aces as Croatia made many mistakes, this resulting in a compelling 25-13 win. Croatia put up more of a fight in the second set before Turkey scored four in a row and eventually had the upper hand at 25-20. Though Croatia claimed a small lead at the second technical time-out of the third set, Turkey fought back and ultimately won the match in three sets (25-22).

Mustafa Suphi Doganci, Turkey coach: “It’s always hard to play the first match in this kind of competitions. Croatia is a tough opponent. We played well but not at the level that I want. We will concentrate and try to work better for the next match against the Netherlands.”

Aslıhan Kılıç, Turkey captain: “We had a huge support from the crowd today. Thanks to the fans for being here. I think we played well but Croatia delivered a good performance too. Next will be the match against the Netherlands. We want to win that one as well to play a ‘big final’ with Russia on Sunday.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

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