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09/09/2018 17:30
Italy crowned #EuroVolleyU19W champions after great comeback
2019 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Tirana, Albania, September 9, 2018. The final piece of Volleyball show at the 2018 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women was delivered on Sunday with Italy being crowned as champions after an amazing battle in five sets against the team of Russia. The Italians came back in the match after losing the first two sets and gave to the spectators in ‘Feti Borova’ sport hall in Tirana the opportunity to see many interesting rallies, creating themselves an amazing atmosphere.  The Russians too showed fighting spirit, trying to keep the European crown they won back in 2016, but eventually the Azzurrine took the all-important win and thus are the new champions of Europe. The team of Poland, who in the previous edition of #EuroVolleyU19W in 2016 did not even qualify for the Final Round of the competition, grabbed the bronze medals after a real Volleyball battle against Turkey. On Sunday, the players headed by Waldemar Kawka seized a 3-2 victory after being 1-2 down in sets, showing much fighting spirit, being more precise in the decisive moments. Earlier on that day, the Netherlands outclassed Belarus at 3-2 and finished the tournament in seventh position while Serbia beat Germany 3-1 to settle for the fifth place.

Gold medal match

Italy vs. Russia 3-2 (24-26, 18-25, 26-24, 25-22, 15-9)

Italy took a small lead in the first minutes of this final match and kept on scoring until 15-11, when Alexander Karikov called a timeout.  It worked as the Russians got closer, coming back to take the set at 26-24, thus disappointing the Italian fans in the ‘Feti Borova’ sport hall. 
In the second set the Russian side started inspired, while the Italians were struggling to respond to the good play at the net by their opponents. With the result being 6-1 for Russia, Massimo Bellano took a timeout, but the Russians kept the distance, continuing on scoring for an eventual 25-18 win.
The play was equal in the first moments of the third set, but the Azzurrine started to perform better. However, Russia got closer in the score, pressuring the Italians even more at 22-22 and leading at 23-22. The Azzurrine saved two match points. Valeria Battista’s serving made it difficult for the Russian receivers and Italy came back. 
Russia entered the court in the fourth set really motivated to show what they can do and took the lead, but soon the Italians got closer, equalising at 8-8 and even leading at 11-8. They kept on scoring and at 15-9 Alexander Karikov called a timeout. A ‘Flying Italy’ extended their lead to 18-10. Russia responded with sharp attacks for 22-22, but the Italians managed to bring this matchup into a tiebreak.
The decisive set was marked by nice rallies with both teams showing great skills, following each other in the result. However, Italy, supported by their fans, were able to seize the victory and become the new European champions in this age group.

Massimo Bellano, head coach of Italy: “I feel good, most of all because of the girls. We started the summer with the wish to create a new group. I think that on Sunday we played as a team and we deserved this victory. Italy is the team of the first set, but Italy is also the team that showed character and came back after losing two sets.”

Alexander Karikov, head coach of Russia: “We showed much character in the first two sets, but in the last set we were empty. We let the emotions ‘eat us’, all of the sets we were chasing them in the score. On top of this, we had a difficult match on Saturday, so it had its impact on us. The future for these girls? It depends on them. In our sport everybody loves the first ones.”

Bronze Medal match  

Turkey vs. Poland 2-3 (21-25, 25-17, 25-15, 20-25, 12-25)

The Turkish Ambassador in Tirana, Mr Murat Ahmet Yörük attended the bronze medal match, thus showing his support to the Turkish team and to Albanian Volleyball.
The play went point-for-point in the first minutes, but Turkey stayed a little bit better on the court. However, the Polish girls took the initiative for 20-15 in their favour. The Turkish players put pressure on their opponents, but this was not enough and Poland opened the match with a 25-21 set win.
Sahin Catma’s players started very well in the second set, leading at 5-0 and then at 10-5. Turkey kept on scoring and with the result being 16-10 in their favour, the Polish head coach Waldemar Kawka called a timeout. However, the Turkish were performing perfectly in attack and tied the match at 25-17.
Although Poland were better in the first minutes of the third set, Turkey turned things in their favour. Until the end of this set, Turkey were precise in finishing their attacks and got closer to taking the win.
Poland regrouped in the fourth set, leading at 6-1. However, with Derya Cebecioglu on the serve line, Turkey started breathing down the necks of their opponents. Despite that, Poland kept calm and Nazli Eda Kafkas’ mistake from the service line brought the match into a tiebreak. 
Poland seemed more stable on the court in the first minutes of the decisive set, but then let some unforced errors give the Turkish team the opportunity to get back into the game. However, the Polish team who had lost on Saturday the semi-final vs. Russia at 2-3, on Sunday showed they have learned the lesson and emerged victorious, thus taking the bronze medals from #EuroVolleyU19W. 

Waldemar Kawka, head coach of Poland: “When we came here, we were not among the favourites, but we got better and better after each match and we made it to the semi-finals, where we made some critical mistakes. That's why we lost against Russia. But after this bronze medal, we will forget that semi-final. We didn't make it to the final phase last time around, but we have worked hard for the past two years and it paid off.”

Sahin Catma, head coach of Turkey: “We have a good team, who played well, but we need to learn how to finish the game in the crucial moments. We came here for the final, but there were very important and tough teams and I am happy that we are among the Top 4 in the continent. I would like to also congratulate Albania for holding a great tournament like this U19 European Championship, as everything was almost perfect.”

Classification match 5-6

Germany vs. Serbia 1-3 (23-25, 25-18, 22-25, 16-25)

•    Germany started the first set slightly better, leading at 4-1 and then 6-4. However, Serbia responded and took the lead at 10-8. Even though the players headed by Marijana Boricic were leading at 22-20, Germany equalised at 23-23. The Balkan team then showed much character and took the set at 25-23.
•    Having lost the first set after such a close race, Germany reacted in the second, leading all the way and winning it at 25-18.
•    However, Serbia came back and despite a hard-fought third set, they took it by 25-22.
•    Serbia dominated the fourth set, leading from the start (5-0) and then racing to a compelling 21-13 lead. The Serbs proceeded to take the fourth set at 25-16 and the whole match by 3-1, thus securing the fifth place of this #EuroVolleyU19W, leaving Germany in sixth.

Classification match 7-8

Belarus vs. The Netherlands  2-3 (17-25, 25-18, 25-20, 16-25, 8-15)

Both teams started the match very motivated, following each other in the result. However, it was the Netherlands who took the lead and slowly made an eight-point difference for 19-11. Belarus tried to respond, but the Dutch opened the match at 25-17. 
Belarus tied the match after dominating in the second set and after leading from the first to the last minute of it, they won it deservedly.
The players coached by Natallia Melianiuk did not have any problems in the third set either, leading comfortably all the time and getting closer to the win.
The Netherlands, however, responded immediately in the fourth set and giving their best on the field brought the match into a tie break.
None of the teams were giving up in the decisive set, but the Dutch team eventually emerged victorious and finished the tournament in seventh place

Dream Team of the #EuroVolleyU19W

Outside hitters:

Oliwia Baluk (POL)

Derya Cebecioglu (TUR)

Middle blockers

Viktoriia Pushina (RUS)

Sarah Luisa Fahr (ITA)

Opposite Hitter

Magdalena Stysiak (POL)


Polina Matveeva (RUS)


Sara Panetoni (ITA)


Valeria Battista (ITA)

Final standing

1.    Italy *
2.    Russia *
3.    Poland
4.    Turkey
5.    Serbia
6.    Germany
7.    The Netherlands
8.    Belarus
9.    Bulgaria
10.    Slovakia
11.    France
12.    Albania

*Qualified for the 2019 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in Mexico

Click here for further information.

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