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14/08/2018 14:45
Qualifiers begin for historic #EuroVolleyW
2019 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Luxembourg, August 14, 2018. On Wednesday, as many as 24 teams will embark on a quest for a spot to compete at the 2019 women’s European Championship when 12 matches will take place across Europe to set the tone for the much-anticipated #EuroVolleyW qualification round. These 24 teams will contest four matches up until the end of August with the remaining two legs due to follow in early January. The eventual winners and runners-up of each pool will join co-hosts Turkey, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia in the Final Round – together with the top eight teams from the 2017 edition (Serbia, Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Italy, Russia, Belarus, Germany and Bulgaria). There is a lot to look forward to as all teams want to be a part of the history-making 2019 #EuroVolleyW – the first time in Volleyball history that a European Championship will feature 24 teams and take place across four countries.

Pool A

Belgium vs. Iceland

•    On Wednesday evening, the Yellow Tigers will be hosting the team of Iceland in the opening game of the European Championship qualifications in Pool A.
•    Belgium made history back in 2013 when they claimed a historic bronze medal from the #EuroVolleyW Finals in Berlin.
•    Belgium’s roster for the 2019 #EuroVolleyW qualifiers includes:
Setters: Ilka Van de Vyver (Vilsbiburg), Jutta Van de Vyver (Lendelede)
Outside hitters: Celine Van Gestel (Asterix Beveren), Britt Herbots (Busto Arsizio), Dominika Strumilo (Nancy), Laure Flament (Gent)
Middle blockers: Laura Heyrman (Unattached), Marlies Janssens (Asterix Beveren), Nathalie Lemmens (Wiesbaden), Iris Vandewiele (Gent)
Opposites: Kaja Grobelna (Busto Arsizio), Karolina Goliat (St.-Raphael)
Libero: Lisa Neyt (Gent), Jodie Guilliams (Aachen).

The young Yellow Tigers had a successful campaign earlier this year in the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League

Coach Gert Vande Broek shows much confidence about his team. “We started with a new, very motivated team and we achieved very good results in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. It was a great experience for our young players, who will continue to play on this level. In the preparation phase, we won three times from the Spanish team and twice from Bulgaria, who will compete at the World Championship in a few weeks in Japan. If we continue to play on the same level, we should not be too afraid of our competitors and qualify for the #EuroVolleyW Finals. Our strong point is the pressure we put with our serve. Quite many of my players take risks with their serves and that is a big advantage, but necessary in the modern Volleyball.

“We expect the most problems from Slovenia. Already in the past, we had problems with that team. The best players from their younger generation are all together in the national women’s team. They are the no. 25 in the European Ranking, two places behind their first opponent, Israel. We are looking forward to seeing the result of that match, because in my opinion Slovenia should be stronger than Israel.”

The second part of the qualification round will be taking place in the beginning of January 2019. “Our players will stay motivated, also for that period. And if it happens that we are already qualified after four games, we can take these matches as a preparation for our next campaign in 2019.”

Slovenia vs. Israel

•    Slovenia and Israel have not played against each other in ten years in any of the women’s senior CEV or FIVB competitions.
•    The match between Slovenia and Israel will tell more about the strength and chances of these teams in Pool A. Slovenia and Israel will supposedly fight for the second place in the group, with Belgium being the heavy favourites to finish on top of the charts.
•    The match against Israel will coincide with the senior national team debut for young Slovenians Alja Jerala and Brina Bračko, both members of Slovenia’s U19 team. The only 16-year-old Žana Zdovc Sporer debuted for Slovenia at the 2018 Mediterranean Games in Tarragona in June, but has not played any matches in CEV or FIVB senior competitions this far. Unfortunately, Darja Eržen will not be ready for the match with Israel due to a shoulder injury.
•    The match will take place in the Tabor sports hall in Maribor, where Slovenia secured their first #EuroVolleyW appearance, back in 2015, after beating France in the third round of qualifications. The only three Slovenian players who played that match and are still on Alessandro Chiappini’s list for the game against Israel are Sara Najdič, Iza Mlakar and Saša Planinšec.

Team Slovenia portrayed at one of their last friendly matches

Alessandro Chiappini, coach of Slovenia: “I am happy that we managed to raise the level of our performance with the last friendly matches against Finland and Azerbaijan. We still have some ups and downs, but this is normal for a young team like ours. Against Israel we will have to play aggressive, serve good and stay focused throughout the whole match.”

Saša Planinšec, player of Slovenia: “The team spirit is great, we are highly motivated and willing to start with the qualification matches. We have been preparing since May and we have played many friendlies, where we realised where we still need to improve as a team. But I think we are well prepared and ready to face the Israelis.”

Pool B

Croatia vs. Albania

•    Croatia are probably the heavy favourites in Pool B, which features the likes of Switzerland, Austria and Albania as well.
•    Croatia will open their #EuroVolley campaign with a home match in Zagreb against Albania.
•    Back in June, Croatia claimed the gold medal from the Mediterranean Games held in Tarragona, Spain.

The coach and captain of Team Croatia at the press conference held ahead of the #EuroVolleyW qualifiers

“We are ready, and our preparations in Slovenia went well,” says Croatia head coach Daniele Santarelli. “I think that we are the favourites in the pool, but sometimes that feeling is not good. However, if we work the way that we know and if we show our quality, we will be a step ahead of the other teams.”

“The arrival of a new coach means a new system, a lot of new information but I have been working with him before at Imoco Volley, so I know him and I can say that the girls are doing their best,” said team captain and home superstar Samanta Fabris. “Everything is positive. The atmosphere in the team is great, and I think that we have not had that kind of atmosphere for a long time. We are ready and we will see how things go when the games will start.”

Austria vs. Switzerland

•    Austria women’s national team starts the qualification round for the 2019 CEV Volleyball European Championship on Wednesday at 5.45 p.m. In the opening game, the home side will face Switzerland in the Stadthalle Steyr. The Austrian side believes in its chances to do well. The preparation phase in Maribor went according to plan and the confidence level is high.
•    Austria’s women literally stood out in the 2018 CEV Silver European League, only losing to Sweden in the final. The silver medal is a proof of the hard work of head coach Svetlana Ilic and her staff in the past three years. The potential spot in the Final Round of the European Championship is just a confirmation of the development of the squad.
•    Before the start of the European qualifiers, a dream came true for team captain Srna Markovic. In the upcoming season, the 22-year-old from Vienna will become the first Austrian female Volleyball player to participate in the elite Italian Serie A1 after moving from the second-division side of Battistelli S.G. Marignano to UBI Banca San Bernardo CUNEO.

Austrian superstar Srna Markovic will be playing in the highest division of the Italian national league

Srna Markovic: “We have done a good job this year. The runner-up position from the Silver European League is the result of our hard work. However, the most important task, the qualification for the European Championship 2019, is still to come. It does not matter the opponent, since we always want to win. We are aware of our qualities and we definitely want to compete at the European Championship.”

Gernot Leitner, President of the Austrian Volleyball Federation: “The expectations are high, especially after the women reached the final of the Silver European League. We have some serious chances to qualify.”

Pool C

Ukraine vs. Norway

Coming soon...

Greece vs. Montenegro

•    Greece seek a return to the European Championship finals for the first time in 17 years, as they open their campaign on Wednesday in Volos for a ticket to the 2019 #EuroVolleyW when they take on Montenegro in this city of Thessaly, in Central Greece.
•    Greece and Montenegro are in Pool C of the European Championship qualifiers, alongside Ukraine and Norway. The top two from the pool advance directly to next year’s final phase.
•    Greece have not been present in a European Championship Final Round since 2001, when they finished 12th in Bulgaria. The country’s best ranking ever has been 8th place from the 1991 edition held in Ravenna and Rome. Montenegro, on the other hand, have never qualified to the European Championship as an independent state.
•    Greece will next travel to Norway and continue on the road to Ukraine, before returning to Volos to host Ukraine on August 25.

Panel of the Press Conference in Volos Town Hall ahead of Wednesday's Greece v Montenegro game of the #EuroVolleyW qualifiers. Left to right: Styliani Christodoulou, Greece captain; Andreas Zervas, Volos Vice-Mayor; Guillermo Naranjo Hernandez, Greece coach; Periklis Bakodimos, Hellenic Volleyball Federation Director.

“Montenegro have great players who compete in some strong leagues abroad,” said Greece coach Guillermo Naranjo Hernandez at the official Press Conference in Volos Town Hall Monday, that got the countdown rolling ahead of Wednesday’s match. “Anyway, one must treat any opponent as if they were the best in the world. We have watched them and analysed them on video, we have trained hard and I believe we can qualify.”

It is the Spaniard’s second competition at the helm of Greece, after leading the side to the silver medal at the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, earlier this summer.

“We call on the fans of Volos to come and support us in our efforts on Wednesday, setting the tempo with their voices, and we from our side will offer them great Volleyball to thank them for their support,” added team captain Styliani Christodoulou at the Press Conference. “We have all trained hard for the last three months and have focused a lot on Montenegro in our preparation, but remain concentrated on our training which is of a very high level.”

From his side, Hellenic Volleyball Federation Director Periklis Bakodimos thanked all the local authorities for their support of the National Team in the lead up to the two home matches that Greece will play in Volos this month.

“The Federation has set qualification to the final phase as the goal for this team and we began preparing for this round of matches three months ago in the Mount Pelion resort of Portaria, just outside Volos, before coming down to the city for the actual matches,” said Mr Bakodimos. “The Municipality of Volos and the Regional Unit of Magnesia have been with us all the way.”

“Our city has the infrastructure, the capability and the wish to host the country’s National Teams for their preparations,” added Volos Vice-Mayor Andreas Zervas, wrapping up the Press Conference. “The experience for the fans who come to watch the games in Volos will be unique and they will live moments that only sport can give.”

Pool D

France vs. Denmark

•    The #EuroVolleyW qualifiers coincide with the first official competition for Emile Rousseaux as the head coach of Team France.  
•    Christina Bauer, the oldest and most experienced player of the team, will try to qualify for the Final Round of the European Championship for the fifth time in her career.
•    Libero Amandine Giardino did not participate in the Golden European League earlier this season as she had an ankle injury.
•    Team France will play all of their home matches in Belfort.

Team France will play Denmark in Belfort

Emile Rousseaux, head coach of France: “We will play with humbleness and a lot of determination at the same time. It is not because we have a better ranking than the teams we will play that we will overcome them. We need commitment, determination, optimism and hard work.”

Christina Bauer, middle blocker of France: “We need to have high goals to make progress and go to training. To win all the matches and to qualify is our goal because to participate in the European Championship is such a great experience.”

Georgia vs. Portugal

Coming soon...

Pool E

Czech Republic vs. Sweden

•    The Czech Republic are hosting Sweden in Jablonec nad Nisou.
•    Back in 2016, the Czech Republic secured their qualification to the 2017 #EuroVolleyW at the very same venue after edging their neighbours from Slovakia.
•    After bypassing the Golden European League earlier this season, Czech star players Helena Havelkova and Pavla Vincourova are back with the team for the 2019 #EuroVolleyW qualifiers.

Earlier this season the Czech Republic won bronze in the Golden European League despite missing some of their star players

Barbora Purchartová, team captain of Czech Republic: “We are happy that we are going back to our home place. We are extremely motivated for our match against the team of Sweden. We want to win in Jablonec and make a good start towards securing our qualification for the European Championship.”

Zdeněk Pommer, coach of Czech Republic: “We want to perform as best as we possibly can. We will do our maximum to win before the home fans and try to reach the first victory in our journey towards the Final Round of the European Championship.”

Estonia vs. Finland

•    Last time Estonia and Finland played each other was in 2017 during the World Championship qualification round and Estonia took a 3-1 win.
•    Finland will miss their opposite Piia Korhonen due to injury.
•    Finland have played in the Final Round of the European Championship twice (1977, 1989), while Estonia have never made it there.

Estonia celebrate their victory over neighbours Finland in a World Championship qualifier played in 2017 in Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Andrei Ojamets, head coach of Estonia: “The Finnish team has a lot of quality. Our biggest problem is the lack of stability but we are working on it and taking it step by step.”

Tapio Kangasniemi, head coach of Finland: “All previous matches between us have been very tight and I expect this one to be difficult also. Estonia have a team that has been playing together for a long time. We have been getting better and better.”

Pool F

Romania vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Coming soon...

Latvia vs. Spain

•    Elvita Dolotova is playing the role of team captain for Latvia for the second straight season.
•    The Latvian national team has undergone many changes and have a new head coach in former European Beach Volleyball champion Inguna Minusa, a gold medallist in 2009 with Inese Jursone.
•    The Latvians have a young team – with the average age standing at 23.

Inguna Minusa, head coach of Latvia: “With the girls we are trying to work not only on their physical performance, but also on the mental side of the game and a lot of work is connected with team building. Our team has been having special meditation workshops in fresh air, for example in the forest.”

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News nr. 59 of 63
15/08/2018 21:10:00
France, Belgium and Portugal off to a great start in #EuroVolleyW qualifier
16/06/2018 22:28:00
2019 women’s EuroVolley to raise the profile of Volleyball to next level

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