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01/10/2011 18:49
Germany outclass defending champions Italy to reach the final
2011 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Belgrade, Serbia, October 1, 2011. After two consecutive titles at CEV Volleyball European Championships, Germany ended the Italian winning streak by crashing the “squadra azzurra” in straight sets (25-22, 25-22, 25-17) in today’s first semifinal at SC Pionir sports hall in Belgrade, Serbia. It is the biggest success for Germany since the German reunification.

Best scorer of the match was Angelina Grün with 17 kills, while Italy’s top scorer was Carolina Costagrande with 13 points.

Germany jumped out for a 5-1 lead in the first set. Grün on Costagrande and Christiane Fürst on Francesca Piccinini booked their first block kills. The Germans put a lot of pressure on the Italian passers, especially on Costagrande and the inexperienced libero Giulia Leonardi. Simona Gioli was the eye-catching player in the Italian squad with several remarkable quick attacks. Germany led 9-4, but four consecutive points gave the defending champions new hopes. There was not much to separate the two teams at this stage of the competition. Maren Brinker smashed for a 13-11 German lead, before Costagrande fired back bravely for Italy with a blistering winner from back row. At the second technical timeout, Germany still led by one point, 16-15. Fürst stopped Piccinini at 20-18 with an impressive block winner, and Grün moved the scoreboard forward in Germany’s favor at 22-20. With both teams winning their sideout situations at the end of set No. 1, Corina Ssuschke-Voigt brought up set point for Germany at 24-23, and, again, closed the first set out with a service winner on Piccinini.  

Germany kept the pace in the second set. Many experts saw Italy as favorites of today’s first semifinal, but the Germans, still unbeaten at EuroVolley 2011, proved once more they were in top shape for the most important and precious tournament of 2011. Even though the team of head coach Giovanni Guidetti experienced some difficulties in passing, they were excellent at the net and in defense. In the middle of the second set, Germany led 11-5 and 13-9. The “squadra azzurra” tried its best, but couldn’t find a way to win the German fortress. Another Italian mistake offered Germany a well-deserved 16-10 lead at the second technical break. Captain Margareta Kozuch added a point to her impressive record book to make it 19-14 for her team. Italy bounced back courageously to 22-23, but it was not enough. Kozuch served another service winner to finish the second set at 25-22. Kozuch was the best scorer for Germany in the second set with eight points while Costagrande booked seven kills for Italy.

Two sets down, Italian head coach Massimo Barbolini sent in Serena Ortolani for Piccinini, aiming for a different story in the third set. Costagrande now played as outside hitter, while Ortolani took the role as opposite. It helped as the Italian experienced the better start with Valentina Arrighetti and Antonella Del Core on fire. The Germans had to deal with their adrenaline rushes, but leveled the game again at 12-12. Fürst blocked Ortolani to offer her teammates a one-point advantage at the second technical timeout. Barbolini called his ladies off court one rally later, but it was already too late. The German express was now unstoppable with four consecutive points. At 16-22, the Italian head coach asked for another break, seeing the Italian hopes vanishing into thin air. Del Core sent the Mikasa out of bounds at 17-24 to offer Germany their first match ball. Team senior and best scorer of the match Angelina Grün closed the set and match out with a blistering winner from back row, bouncing the German team into heaven.      

Germany head coach Giovanni Guidetti: “Italy is a great team, I admit that. I believed in my team and that my team can win, but I thought it would be a difficult task, more than it really was. We saw great team spirits from both teams tonight; it was a great pleasure to play with the Italian team again. This will be my first final in European Championships, so I hope we will win tomorrow.”

Germany captain Anna Margareta Kozuch: “Two years ago we played the match against Italy, but we lost that match; today, we had the same chance to beat them and to win the match and we’ve done it. We are in the finals now. I think we were amazing tonight; our tactical performance was more than good. We all are looking forward to tomorrow’s match and I hope we will play a great match, like today.”

Italy head coach Massimo Barbolini: “First of all, I’d like to congratulate my friend Giovanni Guidetti, his team played very well and they deserve the victory. However, I’m sorry we haven’t played like we can. We weren’t able to find the right key for their attacks. I think our reception was good, but Germany outplayed us at the net, they had the better solutions for each and every ball we sent. I wish them good luck for tomorrow.”

Italy captain Eleonora Lo Bianco: “I’m very sad we lost tonight, I think we didn’t expect to perform that poor. I’d like to congratulate the German team, since Germany played a great match tonight. It seems to me that everything went the wrong way for us and that’s why we have lost this match.”


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