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20/06/2010 00:00
Romania overturns defeat against GB to top the standings in Pool A
2010 CEV European League - Men & Women

Crawley, Great Britain, June 20, 2010. Romania overturned their defeat in the opening match to Great Britain at the K2 in Crawley to go back to the top of Pool A in the 2010 CEV European League after a thrilling five-set match (2:3, 25-23, 15-25, 21-25, 25-22, 10-15). GB came back from 2:1 down to force the match to a final set but Romania took an early lead in the decisive set and was never behind.
Romania started strongly and put pressure on the GB serve-receive. Radu Began produced a big early block on Mark McGivern through the middle and, when Jason Haldane, sent successive attacks long, coach Harry Brokking took his first time-out at 2:5. Romania surged to an 8:5 lead at the technical time-out after Cristian Chitigoi found the floor in the GB back court. GB who trailed 6:10 closed it to within one point after Chitigoi was blocked in successive points, firstly by Haldane and then by Nathan French. But Chitigoi improvised well - tipping one over the GB block before slamming the ball into the floor crosscourt as Romania moved to 13:9, at which point Brokking gathered his players together again. The time-out worked as GB won the next three points as Romania were forced into their first time-out only for Chitigoi who hit the ball off the net cord and out of court as the scores were leveled 13:13. GB put together six unanswered points to lead 15:13 before Andrei Laza pulled a point back for Romania through the middle. Brokking’s boys established a 24:20 lead but could not shake off Romania who saved three set points and threatened to salvage the set. But Mark Plotyczer eased home concerns with a power hit through position four to give GB the set 25-23.
Romania sped to a 5:1 lead in the second set with Laurentiu Lica serving an ace and Brokking called his first time-out of the second set. Haldane was finding some success on the outside but Romania kept ahead with Laza coming up with a terrific stuff block on the former Canadian international. Chitigoi remained Romania’s main hitting threat and Brokking had to call another time-out at 13:18 before Nathan Bennett pulled a point back through the middle. The Romanian block was standing up well as they held onto their five-point lead before Haldane pierced the block to pull a point back for GB. But Romania had control of the set and Chitigoi blocked out Haldane before captain Began snuffed out Andy Benson through the middle as Romania moved to 21:15. GB made changes with Kieran O’Malley and Dami Bakare coming on late in the set but the momentum was with Romania and Chitigoi brought them to set point with a hit off the block before Bakare hit carelessly out to end the set 25-15 to Romania.
GB came back at the start of a tight third set and edged ahead 8:6 at the first technical time-out after a terrific pick-up by libero Dan Hunter kept the rally alive and French powered home the point through the middle. But Romania hit back to lead 10:8 after Laza wiped one off the block and Dan Borota somehow squeezed a point down the line. Laza was a towering presence for Romania in the block as they moved to and he made his presence felt again to stifle Plotyczer as Romania led by four points, 14:10. GB could not find their rhythm as Romania kept up the pressure to lead 16:12 at the second technical time-out. GB hit back to lead 17:16 but the set swung again to Romania as they led 20:18. Lica managed to defend one attack from Haldane with his foot but French then finished the rally off with an unstoppable spike. There was controversy at the end of the set as the GB players left Borota’s serve convinced it was long but the ball was given in. Coach Brokking put his glasses on to stare in disbelief at the line in an ironic gesture and was shown a yellow card by the referee. It was a critical point and although GB managed to save one set point, Borota put away the second set point as Romania took it 25-21.
GB did not dwell on the matter and looked strong at the start of the fourth set as they moved from 4:4 to 8:4 with French, Haldane and then Plotyczer finding the gaps after Chitigoi had served out to give them the lead. GB blocked more solidly and McGivern proved a potent threat through the middle as the home side led 12:6 before a couple of serving errors gave Romania hope. The left-handed Lica brought Romania to within a point and then served a clean ace to level the scores at 13:13 before French hammered home another point for GB. French was rising to the occasion for GB as they led 17:14 and it was 19:15 when McGivern and Ben Pipes combined to block out Borota and prompt a Romanian time-out. McGivern made another great block on Laza but French was then just an inch long with a service and Romania took advantage to close it to one point 20:19 before Haldane put away another point off the block. GB led 23:20 after Chitigoi hit into the net and coach Stelian Moculescu called another time-out. Some power serving from Laza had GB in trouble but Haldane eased the strain again before a huge block by the inspirational French on Chitigoi gave the home team the set 25-22.
The teams traded point for point at the start of the final set but Romania led 8:5 before GB closed to within one point on three separate occasions. Lica started to make his mark but Romania almost paid the price when Laza and then Lica served into the net but Romania took a grip at the end. The referee over-ruled his line judge when he indicated a French spike had taken a touch before going out and that gave Romania match point which they took at the first time of asking, winning the set 15-10.
Romanian coach Moculescu said after the match: “My team showed me another face. The attitude of the team was the difference - they played Volleyball today and didn’t watch Volleyball like they did yesterday. Sometimes we need a little luck but that comes if you have a good attitude”.
His captain Began added: “Today we played better and started the first set very well but not enough. We lost the first set but came back. We learned from the first match and the mistakes we made and we served very well. We feel good after the game but there is still a long way to go in the competition”.
GB coach Brokking stated: “I’m very disappointed as we had the chance to stay in first place in our group. We saw a different Romania but we also saw a different GB team - they deserved to win and we did not play well enough. That’s the bottom-line”.
Captain Pipes concluded: “It’s a cheap excuse to say Romania played better but that’s what happened. We lacked the control we had in the first match. The first set was slow and nothing to set the world alight from ourselves but we had control but we couldn’t keep that. It was a weak performance from ourselves”.

Bulgaria completed a decent weekend’s work as they recorded the double over Great Britain at the K2, Crawley, to keep their unbeaten record in Pool A of the 2010 CEV European League. The GB girls, after a tame first set, stretched their opponents to the limit in the second but eventually gave way in straight sets. Only briefly did GB hold a lead, at the start of the final set, but Bulgaria did not lose their grip.
GB was looking for improvement after Saturday’s straight sets loss but they knew how formidable it would be against a young Bulgarian side that has a big potential. Bulgaria drew first blood and led 6:2 in the first set after a net touch by Grace Carter which resulted in the first time-out for coach Audrey Cooper and, by the first technical timeout, it was 8:3. Janine Sandell offered brief resistance with a power hit through the middle but a net touch by Lucy Wicks and a reception error from Lynne Beattie piled more pressure on GB. Bulgarian captain Eva Yaneva found the far corner of the court with two successive hits from four to ease her side to 12:4 and force another GB time-out. Bulgaria hit six unanswered points before setter Diana Nenova served into the net to give GB some respite. But it was 16:7 at the second technical time-out after an awesome hit from left-handed Emiliya Nikolova which GB was powerless to defend. GB were struggling to deal with Bulgaria’s power. Yaneva powered home another point from four to take them to 22:11 and there was no way back for GB. Even when the GB block stood up to the attack, Yaneva mixed it up by finding the floor with a tip to take it to set point. Only a serving error delayed the inevitable and it was Emiliya Nikolova who shut the set out 25-13.
GB proved more resilient at the start of the second set and Joanne Morgan and Maria Bertelli both had unbelievable pick-ups and Rachel Bragg powered a crosscourt hit into the corner to take it to 5:6. Bulgaria led 8:6 at the technical time-out after a disputed point from Yaneva which GB felt was long. But there was more solidity about the home team with the crowd responding as they matched Bulgaria point for point. Rachel Laybourne brought GB to within a point (9:10) but another serving error cost them dearly before they finally drew level 11:11 when Laybourne’s service just dropped in court. But Bulgaria refused to let them get into a leading position. Beattie returned to the court at 11:14 and immediately made an impact with a strong hit through four but Bulgaria kept in front, leading 16:13 at the second technical time-out. GB was proving troublesome to kill off and Sandell contributed a couple of big points to keep them in touch. Strashimira Filipova hit out as GB closed to 18:19 forcing coach Dragan Nesic into his first time-out. It was the experience of Yaneva which kept them in front as she won three points off the block at a critical stage as Bulgaria moved to 22:19 and this time it was GB’s turn to talk it over. GB kept hanging in and coach Nesic had to take another time-out after Laybourne saved a set point with an emphatic hit to take it to 23:24 but the set finished on an anti-climax as Sandell served long as Bulgaria took it 23-25.
It was a warning for Bulgaria that GB would not surrender meekly and they led briefly at the start of the third set 3:2 and 4:3 with Sandell coming up with a superb block on Emiliya Nikolova. But GB’s serving let them down at times and it was Bulgaria who led 8:4 at the technical time-out. Bulgaria won seven points in a row to move to 10:4 as GB struggled to match the standards of the second set. Emiliya Nikolova produced big blocks on Rachel Bragg and Carter and a back-court hit from Yaneva moved Bulgaria to a commanding 15:8 lead. Yaneva moved it to 21:12 with a strong hit through four as GB were finding it tougher to make an impression. It was Yaneva who brought up Bulgaria’s first match point with a hit through the middle and, although Sandell struck back, another middle attack, this time from Hristina Ruseva killed off the set 25-14.
Coach Nesic said after the game: “I am happy. It is important for us to be top and we go to Serbia next weekend and I am Serbian. Serbia is a very good team and they are at a different level at this moment - they are at a high level and play in the World Championship but we must try to win”.
Tsvetelina Zarkova added: “I am happy we won but Great Britain showed good defense in the second set when our service was not so strong. But, after that, we did not have problems and, of course, we are now first in the group so I am happy”.
GB coach Cooper assessed: “For me, there was progress on the first match. We asked the girls to show some character and be brave, aggressive and to have a presence. We showed that in the second set and we didn’t give in during the third set. It’s given us a bit of confidence, which we needed”.
GB captain Lynne Beattie said: “We got off to a slow start but in the second set, we showed a lot of character and resilience and there was good defense from everyone. We showed we can compete with a team like Bulgaria but unfortunately we did not carry it into the third set. But we’ll take the second set away with us and take a lot of confidence from it”.


Great Britain vs. Romania 2:3 (25-23, 15-25, 21-25, 25-22, 10-15)

Great Britain vs. Bulgaria 0:3 (13-25, 23-25, 14-25)

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