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16/06/2018 21:32
Sweden and Austria overcome challenging semifinals to meet in Silver #EuroLeagueW gold medal match
2018 CEV Volleyball Silver European League - Women

Nyköping, Sweden, June 16, 2018. Sweden and Austria will play for the gold medal of the Silver European League - Women. The hosting team defeated Albania, but not without challenges from their rival in the third set, when they bounced back from being eight points behind Sweden. Austria and Estonia put up a tough battle, continuously “stealing off” the point advantage from each other’s hands. It was until the end of the third set when Austria recorded a comeback and held the momentum throughout the fourth set to claim the final victory. On Sunday Albania and Estonia will play for the bronze medal at 16.00 CET and Sweden will meet Austria in the gold medal match at 19.00 CET.

Albania vs. Sweden 0-3 (14-25, 21-25, 21-25)

  • Sweden opened the match with a 4-1 lead after a number of successful spikes. Albania’s coach Altin Martiri called a time out for his team, when Sweden extended the gap to 7-2. Albania continued to fight back, prolonging the rallies, but Isabelle Haak helped Sweden remain 11-5 ahead. Her performance in attack kept Sweden at the front (17-11) and the home team maintained the advantage until the end of the set as they claimed the opening act 25-14.
  • Albania kicked back with a 2-1 lead, but Rebecka Lazic tied for Sweden with an ace. The game continued with a close race and after an attack from Albania’s Esmeralda Tuci and Swedish Anna Haak, Sweden were 6-5 ahead. From that point, the hosting team began to increase their advantage to 10-6 when Lazic claimed a point in attack after a long rally. Sweden kept the point difference until 16-12, when Erblira Bici fought back for Albania with her serve for 14-16. Her team remained two points behind until 17-19, when Sweden pushed in attack for 21-17, winning eventually 25-21 with an attack of Isabelle Haak.
  • The third set began with a 4-2 lead for Sweden that soon escalated to 8-3 with Isabelle Haak troubling Albania with her serve. Sweden felt their chance to close the match in straight sets, putting pressure on Albania in serve and attack, extending the gap to 14-6 as a result. Albania did not give up, encouraged by the support of Albanian fans gathered in Arenor Rosvalla. Captain Arjola Prenga responded with her serve, moving her team closer to 15-16, forcing Sweden to call a timeout. The hosting team regained their focus, jumping to 19-15 after an attack of Anna Haak. Service was again a helpful element on Albania’s side, with Bici bringing her team close to 20-22. Isabelle and Anna Haak broke Albania’s streak, however, with two attacks and Sweden claimed the entire match finishing the third set 25-21 in their favour.
  • Isabelle Haak was top scorer of the match with 25 points for Sweden. On Albania’s side Erblira Bici led her team with 18 points. Both opposites led at the service line with four and three aces respectively. 


Guillermo Gallardo, coach of Sweden: “One of the main things my young team has to learn is not losing their focus. I have to help them in the moments like during the third set when we lost our eight-point advantage. We need to teach them that even a big point lead doesn’t mean we have already won, we still need more points. Improving this aspect is a matter of being together and practicing. This team needs time as they are still unexperienced in this type of competitions. 
Regardless of our opponent tomorrow, the game will be tough. We are already one of the two top teams of the Silver European League and I’m looking forward to playing on Sunday.” 


Austria vs. Estonia 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-16)

  • The match began with an even game, with Estonia’s slight lead at 5-4. Both teams continued playing head to head with Estonia still ahead at 11-10 after a block of Kertu Laak. The Austrians took the first significant lead after an attack of Nina Nesimovic for 14-12, forcing Estonia to call a timeout. The Estonians fought back to lead at 18-16 after a double block on Nesimovic. This was the starting point for Estonia to run ahead to 21-16, with Liis Kullerkann showing good disposition at the service line. Austria bounced back to 19-21, but Estonia kept cool at the end of the set, ultimately winning 25-21.
  • Austria responded with a 4-1 lead in the second set, keeping the advantage until 7-4 when Estonia called a timeout. Austria continued for 8-6, but the Estonians hit with a point streak taking a 10-8 lead. Both teams struggled to keep their advantage for long as the Austrians tied again at 11-11. Estonia ran away again for 14-11 and 17-13 after an ace from Eliisa Peit. Katharina Holzer made it 18-19 for Austria and the Estonians called their second timeout. Such a tight game continued in the last minutes of the second set, until Austria took charge, winning 25-22 after an ace by Katharina Holzer. 
  • Nette Peit edged the first lead for Estonia with an ace at 3-2. The gap was slowly extended to 10-6, but Austria once again chased the score to 10-11, tying at 12-12 after a spike of Monika Chrtianska. Going toe to toe until 15-15, Estonia took a four point lead, keeping it at 21-17. Nette Peit showed her skills at the service line once again, scoring an ace for 23-18, but the Austrians didn’t give up on the set yet, scoring four points in a row to make it 22-23 and level the count at 24-24. The set ended with Austria cashing their first set ball at 26-24. 
  • Austria opened the fourth set with a 4-0 advantage. Estonia responded with two points, but the Austrians continued scoring until 9-2 when the Estonians were forced to call a timeout. The break paid off as the team approached the game calmer, slowly building back their score, coming close to 11-9. Austria regained their focus and Srna Markovic put the team 18-13 ahead after two successful attacks. Holzer led the next part of the set, allowing Austria to increase their advantage to 23-16. Austria won the entire match with their set ball after a missed attack by Estonia’s Kertu Laak. 


Svetlana Ilic, coach of Austria: “We played six nice games in the League Round and all of the four teams who are here came with the same ambitions and the same chances. Both we and Estonia knew that the price of this match was very high and I think you could feel this in the first set on both sides of the net. It had probably happened a little bit more on our side, my girls were seriously nervous. If you ask what the crucial moment of the game was, I would say it was the third set. Everything worked well on the side of Estonia, but in those last minutes of the set my players were very brave. They took big risks and we got a payback from it. After that, we felt that we put the biggest pressure behind us and approached the fourth set and we found better service, which was the key.

I am a bit emotional because I know where I started with this team and how far we have come. I am very proud of them and I can see that they used my experience in the right way, which is crucial. They wished to progress and be better, it was always a pleasure to work with them and today I can see that they deserve to play for the gold medal.”

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