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10/05/2013 23:07
France upsets Belgium as Serbian heroines enjoy day off in Subotica
2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship - European Qualification

Subotica, Serbia, May 10, 2013. With the hosts of Serbia enjoying a rest day, France did cause the first real sensation of the tournament running at “Dudova Suma” sports hall in Subotica as they edged pre-favorite Belgium 3:1 (19-25, 25-19, 25-18, and 25-17) to get their second win in the competition and remain in contention for that much desired ticket to the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship scheduled for late June in Brno and Prostejov, Czech Republic. In the other match of the day Portugal beat Denmark 3:1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-17, and 25-19) to celebrate their first “hurrah” in the tournament.  

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On Friday Portugal claimed their first win of the tournament by edging Denmark in four sets (25-20, 22-25, 25-17, and 25-19) on the third day of action at “Dudova Suma” sports hall in Subotica. After 105 minutes of play the young Portuguese players could cruise past their opponents though Denmark showed good resistance from the start up to the very end of the game. Portugal’s wing-spiker Maria Joao Tavares top scored for the winning side with 11 points while Trine Noer Kjelstrup did register 19 for Denmark in their losing effort.
In the third set the head coach of Portugal Gilda Harris got a yellow card after she called for a substitution but her player did not show the right number on the panel. In the early phases of the fourth set, Danish libero Clara Christensen Vieira suffered an ankle injury and Alina Hjorth Sode was eventually re-designated as Denmark’s libero. Portugal dictated the pace of the game for most of the time excelling in blocking and serving, registering 13 aces and 9 block kills in the end, vs. 9 and 11 respectively for Denmark.
“We don’t have any excuse because our team didn’t play good enough today. I’m not satisfied because we made too many mistakes and we made it easy for Portugal to score. Our next game will be very difficult because we play the hosts of Serbia. I am disappointed because we wanted to edge Portugal but with so many mistakes you just can’t stand a chance” Denmark’s head coach Skafte Herskind said.
“They served well and we couldn’t pass the ball and our spikers couldn’t attack. I’m sad but we couldn’t do anything better. It’s our fault” Denmark’s team captain Emma Brix added.
Gilda Harris, head coach of Portugal, was very happy after the match: “We are happy because our team won this game. Eighty percent of my players are still eligible to compete in the youth division and it was a very good game. They fought till the end and for sure got a valuable experience”.
The opposite player of Portugal, Mariana Maia, said: “We are satisfied and for sure we will play even better tomorrow because we have nothing to lose. This competition is a great experience for us”.  

France caused the real sensation of the day in Subotica by edging pre-favorite Belgium with the score of 3:1 (19-25, 25-19, 25-18, and 25-17) after 106 minutes of play. France stood out with 12 aces and 9 blocks in the game, with four players finishing in double digits – Juliette Fidon (17), Julie Oliveira-Souza (16), team captain Kim Nowak with 15 and Pauline Martin (10).
Belgium had got off to a flying start claiming the opening set with ease (25-19) before France did respond well in the second bringing it home with the same score. France displayed good actions in attack while Belgium’s defense line started making mistakes. With their opposite Julie Oliveira-Souza on fire, France went up 10:7 in the third set, but Belgium fought their way back and could draw level at 14. It did not last that long as France re-opened the gap (20:16) powered by their solid middle-blockers Pauline Martin and Christine Ngeleka Wa Kundinga, with Martin sealing the final 25-18 and provisional 2:1 with two aces. France started out strong also in set 4 (6:1, 9:2) well helped also by Belgium’s mistakes. By this moment the youngest members of the team, Juliette Fidon and Nina Stojiljkovic, helped Nowak and Oliveira-Souza set the pace of the game but their opponents could close the gap to only two points (14:12). However, France changed gear once more (18:13, 22:16) and that was the end of the story as Belgium did not have the strength to fight back again and the “Bleus” celebrated a well-deserved 3:1 win (25-19). 
“I think that my team finally decided to win and to play a great Volleyball game. They didn’t worry too much and that gave us a good result. I’m very happy with the way the girls played because we showed good fighting spirit when it was necessary. It was a good match for the girls” Gael Le Draoulec, France’s head coach, said after this victory.
Kim Nowak, captain of the French team: “We had a good fight and were on high spirits in this match and when you have all these qualities, you can play against anyone”.
Belgium’s head coach Julien Van de Vyver was disappointed after the match: “In the first set we controlled the French team and after that we chased from behind and also tried to make some things a little better. France was more aggressive in defense, they were better in spiking, serving and receiving so in total they were better in everything. You can see that the team is a little bit older and with good experience because they were quite aggressive in the way they played. For sure they were the better team today and tomorrow will be another day”.
“We were the favorites in this game but they played their best game of this tournament and with good serving, so we couldn’t fight. In some moments if we found the right answers we started making too many mistakes. It’s disappointing. Tomorrow is another game, so we will see what happens” Belgium’s Sarah Coppens concluded.

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