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15/04/2018 18:00
Germany crowned #EuroVolleyU18M champions
2018 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship - Men

Zlín, Czech Republic, April 15, 2018. On Sunday, Germany defeated the home heroes from the Czech Republic (3-0) and were crowned #EuroVolleyU18M champions, while Italy beat Russia (3-1) to grab the #EuroVolleyU18M bronze. Earlier in the day Belgium came from behind and seized a victory against France (3-2), while Belarus overcame Bulgaria (3-1) to end their journey at the 2018 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship - Men on a good note, settling for seventh and fifth place, respectively.
Gold medal match
Germany vs. Czech Republic 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-20)

Even though the home heroes were victorious in the pool match between the two teams, Germany came prepared as they were not giving the gold away without putting up a fight. They started off the first set with a confident lead as the score was 13-3 in their favour. At 23-14 it seemed that the Czechs might as well start preparing for the next set, as with the help of the serving series of Matous Drahonovsky the local heroes did nothing short of a miracle as they moved the score to 23-22. Unfortunately, the streak ended there and thus the Germans claimed the opening set 25-22.
The second set started as a close affair but after the result was 5-5, the young Germans went full speed ahead and managed to gain a 7-point lead, team capitan Erik Röhrs put his seal on this streak with two points that seemed to prove that Germany was bound to take another set home.
At 5-4 in the third set, the Czechs were in the lead for the second time in the game, the first one being 1-0 in the second set. The hosts managed to extend the lead to two points and that brought back some hope for both the local team and the hall full of their fans. The belief of a fairy tale ending stayed alive for the remainder of the set, but that was not in the German master plan and they took the set 25-20, the game 3-0 and were later crowned the 2018 #EuroVolleyU18M champions.
Matus Kalny, head coach of Germany: "The situation was similar like yesterday - we served very well, put a lot of pressure with our serve and fortunately to us the Czech team did not show their best game. We also showed a great blocking game, because they were not able to receive the ball and after that they were hitting balls every time against our compact defence and that was the biggest difference."
Jason Lieb, German setter, admitted the Gold was not, what he expected from this championship: "I am very happy to get first place. Three weeks ago, we were as good, as we are now. I am soo happy, I can not to describe this feeling now."
Jiří Mikulenka, captain of Czech Republic: "Germany had the rocket start to this match with their hard service and that is why they were successful. Unfortunately, we did not cope well with the big pressure that comes from playing at home. But our fans in Zlin were great and we thank them for this excellent atmosphere that let us claim the silver medals. Our dream before this tournament was to qualify for the World Championsip, but eventually we fought for gold."
Jiří Zach, head coach of Czech Republic: "Germany were as in the previous match great at service and we did not receive well. This was the deciding factor of today´s final. Our physical form and capability improved dramatically during this tournament, unfortunately in today´s match we made mistakes and were not successful. But at home it is never easy. The silver medals are for us a fantastic result. For the players, I would like to say that they must enjoy the final more next time they get to play one."

Bronze medal match
Russia vs. Italy 1-3 (22-25, 25-23, 23-25, 17-25)
The bronze medal match of #EuroVolleyU18M made the young players from two Volleyball powerhouses meet once again. In Pool II Italy claimed a 3-1 victory and this match followed the exact same scenario, with Russia winning the second set of the match and eventually admitting the superiority of the Azzurrini.
The result progressed equally for both teams in all four sets, as none of the teams could show clear dominance on court. Both teams recorded a lot of own mistakes and therefore presented gifts in the form of points to their opponents, the tension you could feel in the players proved the weight of the game on the young shoulders.
The Italians won the first set mostly because they could cope with the stress better on the deciding moments, however Italy had to call for a time-out at 24-21 after Russia managed to turn their set ball into a monster kill. The second set started with a Russian supremacy (3-0), but the Italians tried their best to prove they wanted the bronze medals more than ever. Even though the young Azzurri were more active and more emotional, the points simply came easier for the Russians in the second set and they sealed the deal at 25-23.
The two following sets followed the same flow with Italy being better, when it came to the endings of the sets. Their lead being most convincing in the final set, as it allowed the team who claimed 2017 #EuroVolleyU17M Gold to add a bronze to their collection with another 3-1 win against their peers from Russia.
Vincenzo Fanizza, who had led the team to another success could be proud: "It is a great victory for us, we won a medal, the work of our team during the last month was very hard and that is, why the bronze medal is so important to us."

Classification match 5-6
Bulgaria vs. Belarus 1-3 (25-22, 19-25, 19-25, 19-25)
The second match of the day was bound to be an interesting one as both teams have a similar playing style. The opening set turned out to be the most intense one, as each team managed to hold the lead for a part of the opener, but the Bulgarians were eventually more successful. After that, Belarus took over the game with incredible consistency, as they recorded 25-19 wins in three sets in a row. Bulgaria, however, were close to achieving a miracle as they were 11 points behind late in the fourth set and successfully finished a series of rallies, thus making their opponents break out a nervous sweat just before they seized the win and secured fifth place in the final standing of the championship.
Simeon Dobrev, libero of Bulgaria said after the match: "In this match today we were not concentrated. They had better serve than we did, better reception and we were not the team that we had to be. So, I believe at the World Championship next year we will be better, we will practice better and also our final position will be better."

Classification match 7-8
France vs. Belgium 2-3 (25-22, 25-23, 12-25, 18-25, 13-15)
All the games scheduled for the last day of the championship featured duels between teams that had already met in the pool stage of the tournament. First to take to the court were France and Belgium. In Pool II Belgium managed a 3-1 win, but this time France showed much more resistance and the Belgians eventually had to come back from a two-set deficit as France played clever at the net and surprised their opponents more than once with tricky shots across the net. The final sets of the game were then under the control of the Belgians, who managed to end the championship with a win.

Mieke Moyaert was fast to remind that the win meant qualifying for the European Youth Olympic Festival due to take place in Baku in 2019: "I am really happy because it seemed like a fight of every inch. You saw, we were a team, the boys fought for each other. I think we really deserved it, we came back really good after we were losing 0-2. We close this tournament with four wins and three losses and it is not bad. We can learn a lot from this experience, it is good that we can play the EYOF, to earn experience once again against strong teams. I am happy!"
#EuroVolleyU18M Dream team
Best Outside Hitters:
Matouš Drahanovsky (CZE)
Tommaso Stefani (ITA)
Best Middle Blockers:
Radek Balaž (CZE)
Maximilian Kersting (GER)

Best Libero:
Ilia Fedorov (RUS)
Best Setter:
Leonardo Ferrato (ITA)
Best Opposite Hitter:
Filip John (GER)

Most Valuable Player:
Filip John (GER)

Final standing
1. Germany* **
2. Czech Republic* **
3. Italy* **
4. Russia* **
5. Belarus* **
6. Bulgaria* **
7. Belgium**
8. France
9. Turkey
10. Ukraine
11. Greece
12. Slovakia

* Qualified for the 2019 FIVB U19 World Championship (venue TBC)
** Qualified for the 2019 European Youth Olympic Festivalin Baku (AZE)
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