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01/04/2015 22:00
Serbia and Russia take the limelight in Samokov
2015 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Samokov, Bulgaria, April 1, 2015. The outstanding demonstration presented by the competitors in the 2015 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship – Women being held in Bulgaria lived the fourth chapter of a thrilling saga featuring the future heroines of the sport. The spectacular tale of great Volleyball that took place in the city of Samokov approached the closing episode of the preliminary pool round in a disputed journey to glory that ended with Serbia acquiring its ticket for the Semi-Finals as pool leaders, while Russia and Italy will fight for the second position with Germany playing its chances in the last day of the round.   

Serbia vs Italy 3:0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-16)

Serbia surprised Italy in the first match of the day in Samokov in a sensational demonstration of power. The two main contestants of the pool collided in three sets of pure Volleyball, ultimately decided in favour of the Serbian girls. The squad trained by Jovo Cakovic took the Samokov Arena sports hall by a storm and subdued the Italian girls with an exhibition of excellence, as the Serbian players took advantage of Italian mistakes in the first set to dominate the period with powerful blocks (25-18). In the second period, Serbia continued its stunning display in defence and played cleverly and easily against an Italian side in despair (25-17). As the Serbian team maintained its outstanding level in the third period, and while the Italian girls could not find ways to control their rivals in defence or counterattack, Anastasija Sekulic appeared as the main trouble-maker for the Italian reception with her service. The differences continued growing in Serbian favour and Italy was unable to stop an over motivated Serbian side. It ended at 25-23 in the third set and Serbia closed the match with a shocking and convincing 3:0. 

“We did not play a good match, and I think that the Serbian team is the best in this pool. In the future, we have to improve our side-out because at this moment it does not work,” declared Marco Mencarelli, coach of Italy.
Satisfaction appeared in the members of the Serbian team after such an outstanding victory, and Jovo Cakovic, coach of Serbia commented: “My girls were spectacular today. I did not expect to be so superior and that we could control the game since the beginning. I am happy because we reached 12 points and that means that we are going to Plovdiv for the semifinals. Tomorrow we hope to continue by beating Slovenia.” “I want to congratulate my team. This is a big victory for us, because we are going to the semifinals. Tomorrow we will play against Slovenia and I hope that we will win,” stated Katarina Lazovic, captain of Serbia.

Russia vs Slovenia 3:0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-18)

Russia took a definitive step towards the Final phase of the competition after beating Slovenia 3:0 in the second match of the day in Samokov. The Russian side needed to avoid a defeat against the Slovenian girls in order to maintain its chances to keep its name among the list of teams being called to vie for glory in the championship. Besides, after the sensational triumph over Italy in the third day of the tournament, the girls trained by Svetlana Safronova hoped to maintain the level of success against a Slovenian team in search of its first victory. Just from the beginning of the match, it became clear that Russia intended to impose its power over a hopeful Slovenian side. The Russian girls constructed an impassable wall over the net and prevented their rivals from scoring in the first set to put the conclusive 25-14 in the scoreboard. In the second period, Slovenia initially surprised Russia with good serves and blocks, but the girls trained by Oleg Gorbachov made some unforced errors and ceded the lead to their rivals. Russia did not waste the opportunity and closed the second set (25-16). In the last period, the Russian side continued its high-level of performance and found no opposition to finalise the victory in three sets, so to continue its victorious path in the championship.    

“The pool phase of the competition is coming to an end and everything seems decided,” declared the coach of Slovenia, Oleg Gorbachov; “Russia is a very strong team and plays at a very high level, so I think that they were just too strong for us,” he added. A similar sentiment is shared by captain Pia Blazic who said: “We really tried to do our best, unfortunately we could not win any game till this moment. Maybe our expectations before the tournament were bigger than what we can actually do”.      
As for the other side of the net, Svetlana Safronova, coach of Russia stated: “We were emotionless today; maybe our mind is on the game tomorrow, I don’t know. It don’t like to be like that. This tournament must be like a war for us, in any ball, in any set and in any match.” “We were not very concentrated today. We were thinking about the victory against Italy, and we didn’t show too many emotions, but we managed to win,” commented captain Daria Ryseva .  

Germany vs Greece  3:1 (14-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-12)

Germany beat Greece in the last match of the day in Samokov and achieved its second triumph in the tournament. The German squad proved too strong for the Greek side and despite the efforts by the Hellenic girls, Jens Tietböhl’s pupils were able to overcome the initial 0:1 to achieve a convincing victory in four sets. Greece surprised its rivals in a first period in which the Hellenic players rattled the German’s disposition by means of their fast paced playing and the attacks by Aikaterini Papazoglou. Germany could not react in the initial period, controlled from start to end by the Greek girls. Nonetheless, the squad trained by Jens Tietböhl produced a significant recovery after the second set and Vanessa Agbortabi’s spikes and blocks contributed to the meritorious reaction of the German team. After the 1:1, Greece tried to direct the match to the successful demonstration of the first period but the German team controlled the attempts of the opposing squad and avoided the tie-break with an estimable victory. 

“It was a tough game, but in the end our defence was very effective and we also did a good job from the serving line. We know that this victory does not completely send us in the next phase, so tomorrow we have a very important match against Italy,” stated Jens Tietböhl, coach of the German team, as captain Pia Leweling declared: “I think we spared so many emotions in this game and we are very happy that we can stay in the tournament. The support of our parents in the hall was very important for us. I think that we play better with their songs around us in the sports hall.”

“We started the match very well. We knew that a victory would send us to Plovdiv, but the German team started to make less mistakes and the pressure came on to us. Germany also took the psychological advantage in the game, and in this sport, this is essential. We have to play tomorrow against Russia and we will try to play well, not just because of the result, but for ourselves,” analysed  Ioannis Andreadis, coach of Greece.

Click here to access the summary of the matches played in Plovdiv  

Click here for more information, including schedule, gallery and statistics.  

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