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15/06/2018 23:12
Bulgarian ‘Lionesses’ claim historic Golden #EuroLeagueW crown
2018 CEV Volleyball Golden European League - Women

Budapest, Hungary, June 15, 2018. Bulgaria are the gold medal winners from the 2018 edition of the CEV Volleyball Golden European League – Women following their dominant display in the final match with hosts Hungary at Papp Laszlo Sportarena. The ‘Lionesses’ crowned their campaign with a historic gold medal after a comprehensive 25-12, 27-25, 25-14 victory, thus completing their duties in Budapest without dropping a single set. Earlier in the afternoon, the Czech Republic claimed the bronze medal as they pulled out a 3-1 victory (25-17, 28-26, 25-27, 25-21) over Finland. The result accounts for the second Czech medal in European League history – after a previous generation of players had won gold in 2012. Bulgaria and Hungary will travel early next week to Peru to contest the inaugural FIVB Challenger Cup where a spot in the next edition of the elite FIVB Volleyball Nations League will be at stake.

Bulgaria vs. Hungary 3-0 (25-12, 27-25, 25-14)

•    Going into this match, Hungary and Bulgaria had locked horns as many as 92 times in Volleyball history – the first time back in 1947 in Tirana. As they took to the court on Friday night, Bulgaria could boast a record of 57 wins vs. 35 successes for the hosts.
•    Hungary’s last victory over Bulgaria dated back to 2006 – when the hosts stormed to a 3-0 win in Szombathely under the guidance of Zsolt Ludvig, now working as the Secretary General of the Hungarian Volleyball Federation.
•    Hungary were vying for their second #EuroLeagueW crown, following their historic success in 2015. Bulgaria, on the other hand, had never won gold before – but they already had five medals to their name, with silver from the 2010 and 2012 editions and bronze in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
•    Hungary had a bit of a rough start, soon trailing 2-6 and 3-12. It took some time for Hungary to get rid of the pressure resulting from contesting such an important match before a large home crowd, but despite their attempts and the boost they got from the fans, it was too late to make up for such a large early deficit. As a result, the opening set ended in a landslide 25-12 win for Bulgaria.

•    Hungary responded well to that blow, leading in the early stages of the second set. Bulgaria closed in a couple of times, but as soon as they did so, Hungary broke away again. The visitors eventually completed their comeback at 13-all. Bulgaria trailed again shortly afterwards, but after two consecutive Hungarian mistakes, the side captained by Hristina Ruseva stormed to a 23-21 lead. The hosts fought back to 23-23. This was likely to be the deciding moment of the match – Mariya Karakasheva played a leading role, with two points and two mistakes in four straight rallies. Hungary failed to capitalise on two set points and Bulgaria doubled their lead following a double hit by the hosts.
•    Hungary did not recover from this setback anymore, and the third set turned into a real show of strength from Bulgaria, who set the pace from start to end to claim their first ever European League gold medal since the establishment of this competition back in 2009.
•    The only 16-year-old Reka Szedmak of Hungary top scored in the game with 12 points, as Gergana Dimitrova paced Bulgaria with 11.

CEV President Aleksandar Boričić presenting the team captain of Bulgaria, Hristina Ruseva with the trophy for the winners of the Golden European League


Ivan Petkov, head coach of Bulgaria: “We are extremely happy, because we have won this tough tournament. Our team is young and we showed character and qualities. During the whole tournament, our girls showed they were developing their potential and they did so step by step. Winning the Golden #EuroLeagueW is important for us, because we showed to ourselves that we could do so. I would like to congratulate all the girls, the staff and everybody that supported us. We are looking forward to the future.”

Mariya Karakasheva, MVP of the Final Four: “Winning the final wasn’t that easy. We were a bit tense – the other team were the hosts, supported by their fans, but I think that we showed our game and claimed a well-deserved win. Being the MVP of the tournament means a lot – it is also a responsibility. The next step for us is reaching the Volleyball Nations League.”

Silvana Chausheva, best opposite hitter of the Final Four: “As with every final, today’s one was an emotional one as well. Maybe we were a bit tired from yesterday, but we managed to stay focused. We are happy that we had some supporters who had come to Budapest to cheer for us. My individual prize is only half mine – the other part is the job, done by the team.”

Lora Kitipova, best setter of the Final Four: “This was the final and of course, we were a bit tense. However, I am happy that we managed to deal with it. This is my first individual prize with the national team, so I am really happy about it.”

Jan De Brandt, coach of Hungary: “Bulgaria was at a higher level. They had stronger blocks, more skilled attackers, and more stable setters. We were very close to winning the second set but I think we can learn from these games. Overall, the best team won today.”

Reka Szedmak, player of Hungary: “We fulfilled our first goal to be in the final and to travel to Peru. We were a bit sleepy during the first set but we will have the chance to make amends for this loss to the Bulgarians in the future. The second set was worth watching, it lived up to everyone’s expectations.”

Czech Republic crown Golden #EuroLeagueW campaign with bronze

Finland vs. Czech Republic 1-3 (17-25, 26-28, 27-25, 21-25)

•    After losing in Thursday’s semi-finals, the Czech Republic and Finland were vying for their second European League medal in history. Finland had silver from 2017 to their name, while the Czech Republic had claimed the top honours back in 2012.
•    Finland looked definitely stronger and more consistent than in Thursday’s disappointing semi-final with Bulgaria, but after a rough start, the Czechs slowly but surely found their rhythm and with it more confidence as well. Their outside hitters Michaela Mlejnkova and Eva Hodanova were especially effective and it did not take too long until the Czechs secured a comfortable 25-17 win with a crosscourt by Marie Toufarova.
•    After recording six wins in a row in the pool stage, the Czech Republic had suffered a real setback on Thursday night when losing 0-3 to hosts Hungary. They were back on track in the ‘small final’ where they stormed to an early lead in the second set. However, Finland put up a fight and eventually edged ahead at 12-11; still, the Czechs did not falter: they cancelled two set balls for their opponents, won a challenge on a touch by the Finnish block and eventually were able to produce a 28-26 win to double their lead in the match.

•    After failing to capitalise on their opportunities to level the match, Finland had a mountain to climb in their quest for bronze. The Czechs, on the other hand, did not slow their pace down (10-5) and despite a Finnish attempt at a comeback (16-15), they soon set their sights on the finish line. By the score of 23-20, the countdown to victory started for a bunch of Czech fans in attendance. However, Finland fought back to 24-all, an ace by Suvi Kokkonen produced a set ball for the players in blue shirts, before shortly afterwards another one – after a challenge overruling the decision of the first referee – resulted in a 27-25 win for the Finns.  
•    The fourth set was a real rollercoaster where the Czechs had to come from behind a couple of times with Mlejnkova playing a pivotal role towards their comebacks. As they stormed to a 22-19 lead, the Czechs were again only a few points away from securing the bronze medal – and this time around, they did not miss their chance, eventually sealing a 3-1 victory with a crosscourt spike by Hodanova.
•    Mlejnkova top scored with 25 points, followed by Hodanova with 19. Salla Karhu paced Finland with 17 in their losing effort. Deservedly, Mlejnkova received the award for the MVP of the game.


Tapio Kangasniemi, coach of Finland: “Today we showed that there is a lot of potential in us. After the third set, I thought that we could win but unfortunately, we could not keep our level. I hope that we will be more concentrated in the future.”  

Pauliina Vilponen, team captain of Finland: “We played better than yesterday but it was not enough. The small things were on our opponent’s side. We came back after the third set but we could not continue our game in the same way.”

Zdenek Pommer, head coach of Czech Republic: “We played much better than yesterday, we are really happy that we won the bronze medal from the #EuroLeagueW. We were more aggressive in the decisive moments; I am especially happy that we won the fourth set after losing the third one. We made it!”

Barbora Purchartova, captain of the team: “We are so happy after this game; it was really tough against Finland. I have to say that the first two sets were easier for us, but in the third part, they started to play much better in defence and for us it was extremely difficult to score. We are a young team, as the oldest player here is 27 years old; therefore, I think we have a good future ahead of us. Of course, we still have to work hard and develop. We enjoyed a lot competing in the Golden #EuroLeagueW. It was amazing for us in the pool stage, when we recorded six wins in a row. Budapest is also great and everything here was perfect!”

Dream Team

Outside Hitters: Greta SZAKMARY (HUN) and Michaela MLEJNKOVA (CZE)  
Middle Blockers: Hristina RUSEVA (BUL) and Laura PIHLAJAMÄKI (FIN)  
Libero: Rita MOLCSANYI (HUN)  
Setter: Lora KITIPOVA (BUL)
Opposite Hitter: Silvana CHAUSHEVA (BUL)  
Most Valuable Player: Mariya KARAKASHEVA (BUL)   

Final standing

1.    Bulgaria *
2.    Hungary *
3.    Czech Republic
4.    Finland

*Qualified for FIVB Challenger Cup in Peru

Click here for further information.

News nr. 1 of 32
14/06/2018 21:38:00
Hungary and Bulgaria to lock horns in Golden #EuroLeagueW ‘grand finale’

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