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15/06/2019 20:01
Czech Republic, Belarus and Spain complete Golden #EuroLeagueW Final Four line-up
CEV Volleyball European Golden League 2019

Luxembourg, June 15, 2019. On Saturday, the Czech Republic claimed their spot in the CEV Volleyball European Golden League - Women Final Four. Their 3-0 win over Sweden gave them enough leverage over Ukraine and Slovakia in Pool A. Belarus and Spain both qualified from Pool C, in a direct match Belarus won 3-2, which was enough for Spain to reach the Final Four too. Hungary won their fourth match in Pool B, but lost to Spain on set ratio the status of best runners-up across all pools. Finland aid goodbye to the competition with their second victory. In a hard fought match against Azerbaijan, the Finns saw their opponent coming back from 0-2 down, but managed to claim the win in a close tiebreak. The pairings for the semis due to take place on June 21 in Varaždin, Croatia will be announced on Monday morning following a Drawing of Lots held at the CEV headquarters in Luxembourg.

Pool A

Slovakia vs. Ukraine 3-1 (27-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-14)

  • Slovakia finished the campaign with four victories, but it was enough only for third place. Ukraine had the same win-loss record and finished second. Czech Republic won the group with 13 points.
  • Slovakia won 10-5 on aces and 10-6 on killing blocks.
  • The best scorers of the match  Karin Palgutova (21 points, SVK) and Anna Stepaniuk (16 points, UKR) were selected as best players. 

Marco Fenoglio, head coach of Slovakia: “I am very, very happy today. We had two victories last year, now we have four. Today I saw one strong team; the players helped each other a lot. This is very important for me.”

Jaroslava Pencova, middle-blocker for Slovakia: “We do not have any superstars, we need to play as a team. We improved a lot throughout the competition. Maybe in any other group four victories would be enough to secure the spot for the Final Four, who knows. We have to take the positives; we have played some great games before EuroVolley on home soil.”

Czech Republic vs. Sweden 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-20)

  • After this victory, the Czech girls won group A and they will play the Golden League Final Four in Varazdin, Croatia.
  • The best scorer of the match was Michaela Mlejnkova from Czech Republic with 15 points (52%).
  • There was a great atmosphere in the sold out City Sports Hall in Jablonec nad Nisou.

Captain Pavla Smidova (CZE, 18) celebrating with her teammates

Ioannis Athanasopoulos, head coach of Czech Republic: “We were a little bit nervous at the start of the game, but after that, we focused on the game. In the second and third set, I gave a chance to players who did not play so much in previous matches. I am very satisfied because of the victory and because of the qualification to the Final Four. What an unbelievable atmosphere today! I wish we could play in an atmosphere like this every match. The fans were supporting us very much.”

Pavla Smidova, captain of Czech Republic: “I think that today the Swedes did not show the performance they wanted. We showed a concentrated performance, although there were some mistakes. Our coach changed the line-up and gave a chance to players who did not play so much in previous matches. I am glad we won and we will play in the Final Four. We play very well in front of the home audience.”

Ettore Guidetti, head coach of Sweden: “This was the best game that we played in this tournament. Many times we did not play  at all. Today we played our best volleyball, I think. The Czechs were better than us, they played much stronger. We lost, but today I am a little bit satisfied.”

Jonna Wasserfaller, captain of Sweden: “For us it was a good step for improvement. We put a lot of pressure on them, and you can see that on the scoreboard.”

Pool B

Hungary vs. Austria 3-1 (18-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-23)

  • Hungary needed a win to keep alive their chance of qualifying for the Final Four as best runner-up.
  • Despite the early Hungarian lead, Austria dominated the first set and won comfortably by 25-18.
  • In the second set, Hungary took full control and after 7-7 there were no questions: the home team equalised with a 25-16 win.
  • The third set was similar to the second one: Hungary took an early lead and eventually won by 25-18.
  • Austria began the fourth set better, but Hungary came back from six points behind and finished the match with a 25-23 victory.
  • Top scorer of the match was Renata Sandor for Hungary with 18 points.

Jan De Brandt, head coach of Hungary: “It was our sixth game in three weeks, but the girls showed once again they can fight and come from behind. I’m very proud of my team, we did what we can to qualify for the Final Four, but our fate is not in our hands.”

Svetlana Ilic, head coach of Austria: “My team played well in the first set. After we took the lead, the more experienced Hungarian team dominated the game. We have a very young squad, this European Golden League was a great experience for us, we learned a lot and I hope we can build on it next season.”

Jan de Brandt (HUN) and Svetlane Ilic (AUT) exchange pins before the match.

Croatia vs. France 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-20)

  • Final Four organisers Croatia won their fifth match of the pool phase, guaranteeing them top spot in Pool B.
  • France remain in fourth place with one win only to their name.
  • Lucille Gicquel was top scorer of the match with 13 points, followed by Nika Stanovic and Ema Strunjak of Croatia, both with 12 points to their name.

Pool C

Finland vs. Azerbaijan 3-2 (25-19, 29-27, 27-29, 19-25, 15-13)

  • Finland ended the Golden League with a five-set win over Azerbaijan. It was Finland’s second win in the competition. Azerbaijan lost all six of their matches.
  • Finland finish their journey third in Pool C and Azerbaijan fourth.
  • The best scorer of the match was Finland’s opposite player Piia Korhonen with 23 points.
  • Finland’s wing spiker Saara Esko injured herself in the first balls of the match and could not play the rest of the game.

Tapio Kangasniemi, head coach of Finland: “Maybe both teams were already a bit tired, but in the beginning we were well awake. Then our serve got weaker and Azerbaijan got their game going. The fifth set showed that we don’t give up easily.”

Giovanni Caprara, head coach of Azerbaijan: “We are satisfied with our results in the Golden League. Our team has been together for such a short time. Today we had problems with our reception in the beginning. Finland played very good volleyball. They had a good organisation and did a good job.”

Spain vs. Belarus 2-3 (11-25, 23-25, 26-24, 25-21, 9-15)

  • Alicante was the perfect host for the Red Lynxes earlier this week. For the first time, Las Leonas del Vóley played in the Mediterranean city, and 1,980 spectators supported their National Team.
  • Prior to the match, during all day, 400 children enjoyed a Pequevoley event, and after the party, provided a bit of extra noise to the Pitiu Rochel Sports Hall.
  • Spain had a bad start. Belarus dominated the rhythm of the play, and claimed the first set quickly.
  • The reaction of the Leonas in the second set was not enough against the wall represented by the Belarus block. Belarus won the set and secured the first position in the pool and with it, claimed the ticket to the Final Four. 
  • Spain was growing as team after that, and showed more patience to end the rallies to force the tiebreak and also qualify for the Final Four.
  • In a match with ups and downs, the fifth set was a mirror image for the rest of the game. Two aces from Jessica Rivero started it out, but Belarus led on the change side and eventually claimed the victory.
  • Ana Escamilla was the top scorer of the match with 19 points. As for Belarus, Katsiaryna Sakolchik registered 13.

Helia González, outside spiker of Spain: “We are so happy for the result and the qualification for the Final Four. For us, this was not the best game in the #EuroLeagueW, but the result was good. Now we can compete with the best teams and continue to grow as a team.”

Yuliya Miniuk, middle blocker of Belarus: “We won two sets and got the ticket to the Final Four. We made some changes and Spain showed that they are a strong team. We are happy for the result.”

For further information, click here.

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Three spots at stake for Golden #EuroLeagueW Finals as pool play ends

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