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26/09/2015 21:05
Dream start for Dutch co-hosts in front of packed sports hall, Italy show strength against Poland
2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women

Apeldoorn, Netherlands, September 26, 2015. The moment of truth arrived for a hopeful Dutch squad that started its journey in the 2015 EuroVolley with an opening victory at home. It was a dreamlike debut for the Oranjes as Giovanni Guidetti’s ladies beat newcomers Slovenia in the first match of the day in Pool A being contested in Apeldoorn (25-12, 25-14, 25-22). The Volleyball celebration continued in the thrilling second match of the day as Italy produced a powerful and efficient start of the competition by beating another strong rival, Baku 2015 European Games silver medallists Poland in four sets  3:1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 25-16).

Slovenia vs The Netherlands 0:3 (12-25, 14-25, 22-25)

The first match in Pool A represented the debut of the co-hosts The Netherlands against Slovenia. In a fully packed Omnisport Centre in Apeldoorn, over 5,000 Volleyball enthusiasts witnessed a 3:0 victory for the local squad, as the Dutch side overcame rookies Slovenia who are making their first appearance in a Final Round of the European Championship. 

At the beginning of the first set, both teams raced to impose their side-out, but Slovenia claimed the lead at the first technical time out (8:6). Due to a strong series of serves by setter Laura Dijkema, the Dutch side took the lead at 14:9. Difficulties on the Slovenian side to clear the strong Dutch block resulted in a 10 point difference that was firmly held during the rest of the set. Femke Stoltenborg concluded the period with four consecutive serves, ending it at 25-12. 

The Dutch players kept their strong grip on the match in the second set, thus resulting in a 16:8 score thanks to strong rallies and a steady side-out. Slovenian opposite Ziva Recek was able to hit some direct points but when the Dutch block managed to stop her attacks, the Slovenian team struggled to close the 10-point gap. Ultimately, the second set went to the Dutch side by a convincing 25-14. 

The Slovenian team recovered in the third period by not giving away any points in direct errors. The visitors kept up until 10:10, but in the second half of the set, the local squad were able to jump to a four-point lead at 18:14. The Slovenian team fought back with three consecutive points but saw its uprising halted by the Dutch forceful players and their loud supporters, resulting in the final 25-22 and thus concluding the match with a 3-0 victory for the hosts.

 “In this match we did not show an incredibly high level, but we kept our distance and did our job,” said the coach of the Dutch team Giovanni Guidetti, while Dutch captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues added: “The 3-0 says we did our job and that is all that matters now.”

“We are happy to be here for the first time, but we are not on vacation,” said Slovenian coach Bruno Najdic. “We need to forget today and see if we can surprise Italy and Poland.” 

Italy vs Poland 3:1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 25-16)

Two of the powerhouses of the competition met in the second match of the day in Apeldoorn. Italy demonstrated power and efficiency to beat Poland in four sets thus signing a positive start in the disputed Pool A being held in Apeldoorn.

Both teams begun the match at an equal level presenting a continuous exchange of points. It wasn’t until the 13:16 that Poland saw a significant increase in their lead. However, Italian opposite and eventual top-scorer with 24 points Valentina Diouf proved too strong with her attacks and placed Italians only one point behind 17:18. Two direct aces by Italian middle-blocker Cristina Chirichella gave the advantage back to Italy. Diouf then upset the Polish reception with three strong services, putting Italy in a four-point lead that was kept until the end of the set 25-20.

In the second period, Poland managed to trail back at the beginning of the set so to end up taking the lead for the first time at 12:11. The powerful attacks by Polish outside-spiker Katarzyna Ewa Skowronska-Dolata provided Poland with a comfortable lead (20:15). Wildly supported by the numerous Polish fans on the stands, Poland did not give anything way and finished the set at 25-21 in their favour.

Errors in reception and attack on the Polish side led to a stress-free advantage for Italy (11:6) in the third period. Strong blocks from Italian middle-blocker Martina Guiggi and the excellent work by star setter Eleonora Lo Bianco provided an easy 25-17 for the Italians in the third set. 

Poland was unable to recover from this blow and received a massive 8:0 at the onset of the fourth period. Polish head coach Jacek Nawrocki put some of his substitutes into the court thus resulting in an impressive return to 12:9. But it was too late to turn the tables. Italy dominantly concluded the set 25-16, and finished the match with a 3-1 victory. 

“Our biggest problem was our own number of mistakes. We made too many of them and were not able to come up with a solution,” commented Polish player Katarzyna Ewa Skowronska-Dolata. Polish coach Jacek Nawrocki added: “It was our goal to surprise Italy today, that’s why I started with Skowronska-Dolota as an outside-hitter and Kowalinska as opposite. In the first two sets this worked out fine, but during the whole match we had troubles scoring the first balls.”

“We scouted a completely different starting six, so our scout material did not prove any worth. Gladly, after two sets we knew what to do, and I was very happy to see my team playing on a constant level, point to point, to the victory of today,” commented the coach of Italy Marco Bonitta. 

For more information on the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women visit or click here. In social media, please use the competition’s official hashtag #EuroVolleyW.

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