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20/07/2019 20:00
Bulgaria and France to fight for #EuroVolleyU17M crown!
2019 CEV U17 Volleyball European Championship - Men

Sofia, Bulgaria, July 20, 2019. The 2019 CEV U17 Volleyball European Championship - Men semifinals in Sofia were nail-biting battles. First, hosts Bulgaria in front of a raucous home crowd won over Poland in an extremely tight and thrilling four-setter, thus booking their ticket to the gold medal match. Then, France after a fierce fight celebrated a straight-set win over Czech Republic, staying still unbeaten in Sofia. On Sunday, the Bulgarian Lions will fight for gold with France, earlier in the afternoon Poland face Czech Republic in the bronze medal game. Both matchups will be a revenge of the group stage matches and live streaming will be available on EuroVolleyTV. The 2017 #EuroVolleyU17M champions Italy will play against Turkey in the fifth place game. Russia and Belarus will lock horns for places 7 and 8.
Semifinals 1-4
Both teams entered the court fully focused on their mission, however it was Poland to open the first set better, leading 7-4. The Bulgarian Lions with huge support from their enthusiastic fans managed to tie at 11-11 and a fierce battle started. In the decisive part of the set the hosts were not able to stop Poland. In set two Bulgaria got a three-point-advantage (9-6). The young Poles totally cancelled the gap at 10-10, but with a great serve from Georgi Tatarov, the hosts regained it (15-12) and stayed ahead, eventually winning this part. The third set was a close rivalry up to 14-12, when the Bulgarians took a lead and raised it to a three-point difference. Poland tied at 23-23 and then got a set-point which they didn't use, eventually Bulgaria got also this part. Bulgaria kept the momentum and Poland couldn't find their rhythm at the beginning of set four (0-4 and then 3-10). The hosts were the dominating side on the court not letting the opponent spread their wings. Then, with great efforts from Piotr Sliwka and Kacper Pakos on serve, Poland tied at 15-15, before taking the lead for the first time in this set at 20-19, but after a short point-by-point race Bulgaria closed the set and game 25-23. This match was a personal show of Vladimir Garkov who scored 22 points, his teammate Georgi Tatarov tallied 16 for Bulgaria. Piotr Sliwka of Poland scored 15 for the losing side.
Martin Stoev, head coach of Bulgaria: “Poland are definitely one of the strongest teams at this event. They have very good service and defence. They started this game well, our team struggled with some problems but with the support of our great public my players moved forward and improved their game. In the fourth set we lost concentration, but then we fought back and eventually won. Tomorrow we are going to do our best to win gold at home.”
Ariel Fijoł, head coach of Poland: “We are very disappointed, because we wanted to play for gold. We lost in the endings. We came here with twelve players and all have an important role in the team, they all are fighters motivating each other what we could see here. I’m sure that tomorrow they will make every effort to win bronze.”
France vs. Czech Republic 3-0 (28-26, 28-26, 25-15) 
The second semifinal was a thrilling battle as well. Czech Republic opened it better, but after a few minutes France was leading 11-7 and increased their advantage to 16-11. Then, the Czechs woke up and started their show, first tying at 17-17 and then being ahead in the end of the set 24-21, but the young Frenchmen spared no effort to tie at 24-24. France turned the score in their favour, eventually winning the first part 28-26. France kept the momentum, in set two leading 7-4 and 12-8, but the Czechs reduced the gap and tied at 18-18, before having the opportunity to win this part at 24-22, but history likes to repeat itself and Les Bleus closed it 28-26 in their favour. France opened the third set with a few-point advantage, which the Czechs tried to erase, but eventually Les Bleus claimed set and match. It was a collective scoring effort from France, even though Nathan Canovas had a match-high 17 points and Hilir Henno recorded 14, while on the Czech side David Kollator tallied 13.
Olivier Audabram, head coach of France: “We always stayed focused and took it step by step, because every set brings new difficulties and we have to face it. I am very proud of my team and we are ready to play even five sets to get the gold medal.”
Jiri Zach, head coach of Czech Republic: “France played very good, we made too many mistakes especially in the end of the sets, because we were pretty nervous.”
Semifinals 5-8

Turkey vs. Russia 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-17)

Turkey celebrated a straight-set win over Russia and on Sunday will play in the 5th place game. The first two sets were a tight battle, but it was Turkey having the initiative on the court. They dominated in attack and made less unforced errors. In the last part the Russians struggled with many problems in reception. Dogan Karakoc top scored for Turkey with 13 points.
Ali Yilmaz, head coach of Turkey: “It was a very important game for us. We knew that our opponent is a strong team, but today we managed to show our best and win this game easily.”
The 2017 European champions - after suffering a disappointment in the group stage and losing the chance to defend their title - opened the game in impressive style. However, the first part was rather a show of unforced errors on both sides (Belarus made 15, Italy 13). The Italians dominated on court in the first two parts, but in set three Belarus bounced back winning it convincingly. The third set started tight, then Belarus had a four-point advantage (12-8), the Italians tied at 20-20, but Belarus took this part. In the fourth set Belarus got an early lead (8-3), but the Azzurrini got back their rhythm and convicingly closed the match in their favour. Aliaksei Ilkevitch contributed with 16 points to Belarus, while Luca Porro scored 15 times for Italy.
Renato Barbon, head coach of Italy: “We were well prepared for this match, but we don’t know why we struggled with so many problems in the third set. We lost concentration and in volleyball you have to pay for it. We have to work on this problem, but the result demonstrates the level on which we are now.”

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