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02/04/2015 20:45
Turkey and Belgium qualify for semifinals in Plovdiv
2015 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Plovdiv, Bulgaria, April 2, 2015. The 2015 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship – Women is closing the preliminary pool round with a fifth day of competition that will determine the final composition of the semifinals and the classification matches of the tournament. In the games celebrated in the city of Plovdiv, Turkey continued imposing its domination, while hosts Bulgaria dream of a first victory and the second place of the pool remains to be decided.   

Turkey vs The Netherlands 3:0 (29-27, 25-18, 25-19)

The team of Turkey confirmed its authority in Pool II after beating The Netherlands 3:0 in the opening match of the fifth day of the tournament. Even though the Dutch girls tried to alter the precision of their rivals with a tight blocking system, the squad trained by Mehmet Nur Bedestenloglu found ways to take the ball to the opposite side of the net in the key moments of the sets. Tutku Burcu Yüzgenç became the main offensive reference of the Turkish squad and following a disputed first period, the leaders of the pool were gradually undermining their rivals’ zeal with a mistake-free performance. The team of Turkey did not yield in their objectives and achieved its fifth victory in the championship, thus stating its condition of main favourite for the title-deciding matches of the competition.

“We are happy with the victory, but I think it was a little bit hard for us to play at maximum level knowing that we were already qualified for the semifinals. Now we have two days to prepare for our next match,” commented Mehmet Bedestenloglu, coach of Turkey. “This game was very important for us because we wanted to finish the round with a victory. We have a rest day tomorrow and after that, we will prepare for the next game,” declared Selmin Karahan, captain of Turkey.

“We were very competitive in the first set, but after that the Turkish team played very well, with fewer mistakes. I think we were able to compete with all the teams in the pool, but at times we  missed our chances,” stated Saskia van Hintum, coach of The Netherlands. “I think we started very good, but we made several mistakes. Our goal was to qualify for the next round and now we are disappointed,” analysed captain Charlotte Haar. 

Poland vs Czech Republic  3:0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-15)

The second place of the pool was at stake in the match between the teams of Poland and Czech Republic. The Polish squad aimed at maintaining its options of qualifying for the title-deciding clashes of the tournament, and beat a Czech side that could not recover from the painful defeat suffered against Belgium the previous day. Poland took advantage of the anxiety reigning among the Czech girls and imposed a pace of play that the Czech team could not follow. Natalia Murek’s attacks provided the defending champions with the control of the match from the first set (25-23), dominance which was confirmed after the second period (25-22). As the 2:0 gleamed in the scoreboard, the Czech girls exhibited a diminishing capacity to keep up with their rivals’ desires to win and efficiency, so Poland took the fastest way to triumph with a completely dominated third period.   

“Today we played at a good level of Volleyball and we won. I think that our player Julia Nowicka performed at a very high level and we also had a good service,” stated Andrzej Pec, coach of Poland, while captain Aleksandra Rasinska added: “It was a nice match for us; We have to wait for the match between Bulgaria and Belgium to figure out  which team will end in second place in the pool.”

Disappointment was present in the Czech delegation, as the coach of the team Ales Novak declared: “The Polish team was much better than us today. We could not fight because we did not have the time to recover after the match last night. We had the motivation, but we had not the power to do it.” It was a sentiment shared by captain Tiziana Baumrukova who commented: “We did not have energy; Poland played better than us and they did not let us play our Volleyball.”

Belgium vs Bulgaria 3:1 (25-17, 25-12, 23-25, 25-7)

Belgium qualified for the semifinals of the tournament after upsetting Bulgaria in the last match of the day in Plovdiv. The squad trained by Fien Callens continued the exceptional performance presented the previous day and beat the host team in four sets. The local girls could not give the present of a victory to their fans, even as the Bulgarian side tried to impulse its performance on the continuous support from the stands. Belgium demonstrated a sensational capacity for recovery after the five-setter match on Wednesday and used the combination of attacks finalised by Manon Stragier and Britt Herbots to subdue a defenceless host squad. The Bulgarian girls were able to momentarily leave behind the frustration in order to present a meritorious end of the third set, using Aleksandra Milanova’s spikes to close the period 23-25 and bring a brief uncertainty to the match. However, it would be an illusion for the local fans, since the efficiency of the Belgian girls reappeared in the Plovdiv sports hall and it paved the way for Fien Callens’ pupils to reach the semifinals with a dazzling superiority in the fourth set. The final 3:1 put Belgium in the fight for the podium of the tournament this weekend.  

“We knew that we had to win and get the three points to achieve the second position in the standings. Our goal was to qualify for the FIVB World Championship and we did it. We have played well throughout the tournament and I hope that it will continue this way,” commented Fien Callens, coach of Belgium, while captain Charlotte Coppin said: “We are very happy with this victory; we hoped to qualify for the Final round, and we did it!”

“It was a difficult game against a strong rival. Maybe we did not come out to the court with the right mood, but we definitely wanted to finish the tournament with a victory,” stated Radoslav Bakardzhiev coach of Bulgaria.

“I want to congratulate the team of Belgium, as they fought very hard for the victory. We played better only in the third set and it was obvious that when we show our real level, we can get positive results,” said captain Yoanna Atanasova. 

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