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04/06/2017 23:31
Six European teams now Japan-bound after Turkey, Italy and Germany join Russia, Serbia and Azerbaijan
2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Women

Luxembourg, June 4, 2017. Six European teams have so far booked their ticket to next year’s FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan – Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Italy, Azerbaijan and Germany. They did so by completing a clean sweep of the matches they contested in their respective pools and living up to the status of pre-favourites for a ticket to the Land of the Rising Sun. The runners-up from the sixth second-round European qualifiers – Greece, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Belgium, The Netherlands and Slovenia – will have one last opportunity to book their trip to Japan via the third and last stage of the qualification process scheduled for August 22-27. The eventual winners and runners-up of that single round robin tournament will complete the European contingent for next year’s Worlds.

Pool A in Osijek (CRO)

Hungary vs. Georgia

Hungary completed their duties at the women’s World Championship qualifier in Osijek with a comprehensive 3-0 victory (25-12, 25-8, 25-21) in their matchup with Georgia. Hungary outside spiker Bernadett Dekany commented: “We are not that happy with the performance we showed in the first two matches we played here but we came back strong especially in the match with Croatia. We will now enjoy some rest and after that we will start preparing for the World Grand Prix.” Georgia coach Paata Ulumbelashvili added: “The game did not go the way we wished in the first two sets but the third one was good and it did show how we can play and also the desire that the players have to win and their determination to be successful.”

Greece vs. Austria

After beating Austria 3-1 (20-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-23), Greece finished second in the pool, thus progressing to the third round of qualifications scheduled for late August. Evangelia Chantava, player of Greece commented: “This was our fifth game in five days and we are very tired. We are happy with the victory but our performance was not that good. We nevertheless are happy that we made it to the next round of qualifications.” Her coach Georgios Rousis added: “I am happy that we made it to the next round since Greece has not participated in any major competitions for many years, especially in women’s Volleyball. Today’s game was good but not excellent. However, my players have shown that they deserve their spot on the global Volleyball map.” Katharina Holzer, player of Austria: “I am a little disappointed because we did lead quite comfortably in the fourth set and ended up losing it in the end, and with it the game as well. We nevertheless played a good game, especially since it was our fifth in as many days.”

Croatia vs. Russia

Russia kept their perfect record in the competition with a 3-1 victory over hosts Croatia (25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 25-15). “I am happy that this tournament has come to an end and we will now have some time to rest,” said Russia middle blocker Irina Zariazhko-Koroleva. “We played a good game against Croatia.” Croatia setter Ana Grbac: “Let’s be realistic: none expected us to win a set from this match and I think we made everyone happy with this achievement. I want to say many thanks to the fans in Osijek who have been cheering us on for the whole game.”

Pool C in Sofia (BUL)

Turkey vs. Montenegro

Turkey completed a clean sweep of their matches at Hristo Botev sports hall in Sofia – and they did so in emphatic style as they beat Montenegro 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-19) to secure their qualification to next year’s World Championship in Japan.

Giovanni Guidetti, coach of Turkey: “Now I can relax. We did it! It was a really tough week for us here. It was a tough job to do. This result is very important for us. Now we can just focus on the European Championship. This is the best beginning of the season we could have asked for.”

Dragan Nesic, coach of Montenegro: “Congratulations to Turkey on their qualification to the World Championship. They delivered a very good performance throughout this tournament. Today we played well, without any pressure and we made some good things on the court, especially in reception where we struggled in our previous matches. Now we know in which aspects of the game we must work in the future.”

Mina Dragovic, player of Montenegro: “Today Turkey was the favourite but we made some good things during the match. We wanted to play well and to show our best. In some moments we did it and in some others we did not.”

Switzerland vs. Romania

Romania finished their participation in the World Championship qualifier held in Sofia with a 3-1 victory over Switzerland (21-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-21) to settle for third place in the pool.

Adina Salaoru, captain of Romania: “For sure this is the best way to finish the tournament. This victory is really important for us even though we didn’t qualify to the World championship. It is a matter of honour for our country, so we just tried to represent Romania in the best way we could.”

Andreea Ispas, player of Romania: “I am happy because this is the last match here and now we will enjoy some holidays. About the game, it was a tough match. Switzerland is a really good team and it was a tough game, but we did our job and we won.”

Kosovo vs. Bulgaria

Bulgaria cemented their second place in the standing of the pool with an easy 3-0 victory (25-8, 25-13, 25-10) over underdogs Kosovo.

Miroslava Paskova, player of Bulgaria: “We are not pleased with the result from yesterday’s game with Turkey. We were really close to the victory but this is what happens in sport. We will make it to the World Championship through a longer, more difficult path. This is our goal and we will not give up!”

Lorik Ilazi, coach of Kosovo: “It is always hard to play against the hosts, furthermore Bulgaria has a really good team despite the fact that today they played with their reserve players. For us this tournament is something precious. We played five matches in a row against strong teams. It was a great experience and it brought some unforgettable moments because it was our first international tournament. So we must analyse all matches and we must train harder to become a better team!”

Pool D in Kortrijk (BEL)

Latvia vs. Spain

Spain finished their campaign on Belgian soil with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Latvia (25-8, 25-16, 25-19). Team captain Helia Gonzalez was obviously satisfied: “We started this tournament very bad, but there was a lot of progress during the next few days and today it was perhaps our best game of the week. The result is important for the confidence in the team, and to leave good feelings for the future. We expected a difficult week, but after our victories over Latvia and Bosnia and Herzegovina we are motivated to play in the European League, where we will try to reach the Final Four.”

The captain of Latvia, Elvita Dolotova, explained why her team only won one single set in the tournament. “We started this year with a very young team and we saw here we have still a lot of work to do: better defence, more pressure with our serve, but we do our best. It is important that we always play with a great team spirit and that we keep in mind that this group has the potential to grow.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Belarus

The second game of the day was a thriller between Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina, lasting for five sets, the reason why the ‘final’ between Belgium and Italy started twenty minutes later than initially scheduled. Belarus eventually emerged victorious 3-2 (25-17, 27-25, 18-25, 25-27,     15-7). “We were happy that we won this match, so that we are the number 3 in this pool,” said Anastasiya Harelik. “Of course we want to be the number one or number two, but we played a very good tournament, we are improving and we hope to show this in the European League.”

If there was a contest for the best dancers between each time-out, Bosnia and Herzegovina would have won it by a mile. “We enjoy the game, but unfortunately we lost,” said the experienced Edina Begic. “We were not yet complete as a team, but we are very good as a group and we improved a lot compared to last year.”

Italy vs. Belgium

The sports centre Lange Munte in Kortrijk was sold-out for the much-anticipated ‘grand finale’ featuring Italy and Belgium. The Yellow Tigers played their best game of the week, but that was not enough to pose a real threat to the Italians who emerged victorious in three sets (25-18, 25-22, 25-23) to qualify to next year’s World Championship in Japan. “Not only the second and the third sets were difficult for us, the first set was challenging as well. We knew that it would be a close game and we had to play very solid especially in block and defence,” explained Italian coach Davide Mazzanti.
“We missed some easy points at the crucial moments but I am not disappointed. I am not happy with the result, but I am sure that the fans enjoyed a great game. We could stop the Italians quite regularly, but could not do so with Paola Egonu. We played at 90% of our abilities, but to be able to beat Italy, you have to be at 100%,” concluded Belgian coach Gert Vande Broek. “It will be very difficult to qualify in August when playing against another five strong teams.”

Pool F in Viana do Castelo (POR)

Slovenia vs. Finland

Slovenia cemented their second place in the standing of the pool after rallying to a 3-0 victory (25-16, 25-21, 26-24) in their matchup with Finland. Slovenia came out with all guns blazing cruising to a landslide 21-9 lead in the first set when Finland finally woke up and scored five points in a row, including two aces from Iida Paananen. As a result, Slovenia’s coach Alessandro Chiappini decided to call for a time-out which helped his side close the set in their favour. Even though Finland put a lot of pressure with their serve, Slovenia were able to double their lead in the match and the same happened also in set three, where Slovenia stood up to the challenge to eventually seal a 3-0 victory. Eva Mori, Slovenia’s captain, said: “We are happy with the qualification for the third round, but unhappy with the match against Germany, since we played a way below our level.” Iza Mlakar was the top scorer of the match against the Finns, with 20 points.

Germany vs. France

Germany completed a clean sweep of their matches in the pool but were made work hard before sealing a 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 25-17) victory over France to book their ticket to next year’s World Championship in Japan. The match was a close affair from the beginning before Germany stepped up their efforts in the second set, thus doubling their lead in the match. France put up a fight and they were rewarded for this by taking the third set before the fourth was fairly one-sided and Germany finished the tournament with a perfect record of five wins in as many matches. Felix Koslowski, Germany coach, was “very happy and proud. We were the favourite team and we had to play with that pressure on our shoulders. The qualification in Europe is very difficult since many teams can play at a very high level. France played their best two sets in the tournament against our team. I decided to use some younger players and they played at a high level, which makes me feel good about the perspectives for next year’s World Championship.”

Estonia vs. Portugal

Portugal finished their home campaign in Viana do Castelo on a high note – routing Estonia in three sets (25-23, 25-20, 25-13) to settle for third place in the pool. Portugal started very well and controlled the game from the beginning to the end of the first set; the hosts made up for a four-point deficit in the second set and traded points with Estonia until the end of the period, where they emerged victorious thanks to their attacks and blocks. In the third and eventually last set, Portugal showed their good game from the service line and kept Estonia at bay when the opponent attempted a comeback, thus winning the match 3-0. Gabriela Coelho and Julia Kavalenka from Portugal were the best scorers of the night with 17 and 14 points, respectively. Manuel Almeida, Portugal assistant coach, said: “The key to this result was consistency. Today our performance had what we lacked the other days. We played a series of matches that really motivate us to continue with our work, and this applies especially to the young players on the team and to those belonging to the extended roster. It was an excellent way to prepare for the European League and now we will try to keep improving and evolving as a team.” 

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

News nr. 7 of 22
22/06/2017 11:49:00
Oranjes to enjoy home-court advantage in third-round women’s World Champs qualifier
03/06/2017 23:55:00
Azerbaijan and Russia secure tickets to 2018 World Championship as 2nd Round nears conclusion

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