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27/08/2016 22:00
Italy storm to impressive victory against Serbia
2016 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Györ, Hungary, August 27, 2016. The 2016 CEV U19 Volleyball  European Championship - Women began with a clash of two brotherly countries in Győr, followed by a painful defeat for the hosts. In the evening Italy celebrated a stunning win over reigning European champions Serbia. 

Follow the Championship also on Facebook and Twitter, with the official hashtag to be used for all of your posts and tweets being #EuroVolleyU19W!

Belarus vs. Russia 0-3 (9-15, 16-25, 18-25)

It was a balanced game before the first break, but Russia took a big lead after the technical time-out and after that Belarus only managed to score four more points as they lost the first set 25-9. In the second set, there was no pleasure for the handful of Belarusian fans in Győr, because Russia played well again from the beginning. However, they relaxed a little halfway and it was just enough for Belarus to close the six-point difference. After the technical time-out, Russia powered ahead again and inspired by captain Maria Vorobyova they took the set at a canter (25-16).

At the beginning of the third set, Belarus led by three points. However, this momentum lasted only until the first break, and the score was levelled at 12-all. After this, Russia won easily partly thanks to points scored by Anna Kotikova, closing the third set 25-18 and with it the match 3-0.

Svetlana Safronova, Russia coach: “I am very satisfied with the result. My team did not have to be nervous. We will prepare for the next match coming up tomorrow, because it will be difficult for both teams. We will fight for every ball.”

Ihar Smalyaninau, Team Manager of Belarus: “This opening match was a very good experience for our young team. The girls were kind of scared. I hope they will show their real value [later in the tournament], because our team can play much better than they did today. We somehow were beaten by ourselves in this match.”

Hungary vs. Germany 1-3 (21-25, 23-25, 25-21, 18-25)

Germany won their first match of the tournament in Győr and gave the  fans in attendance an exciting game to watch.
Hungary played well in the first set and took a two-point advantage with Kata Török's service. Germany stabilised their play and equalised soon after before taking the lead thanks to some great blocks. Both teams made many service mistakes but Germany won the set 25-21.

The second set was a close race in the early stages, but the Germans continued to play well and led by four points, again. Hungary resurrected and levelled the score before the second technical time-out. At the end of the set, the Hungarian fans made a crazy atmosphere with their instruments as the home team erased three set balls for their opponents. However, they failed to do the same with the fourth and eventually lost the set 25-23.

Török excelled with her serves in set three and recorded her fifth ace. There were many technical faults for Germany and Hungary scored four points in a row to lead 21-20. Réka Szedmák, who is the youngest player in the tournament as she is still 14, won the set for her side with a great kill, 25-21.

At the beginning of the fourth set, the game was level, but the Hungarian team was weary and their defence was broken. Germany had six match balls and Pia Leweling's ace finished it all off 25-18.

Jan Lindenmair, Germany coach: “First of all, we are happy with the win and the three points it brings. For sure, it was not our best game, but we always know that the start is difficult in every tournament, especially playing with the host team is not easy. Hungary played amazingly good.”

András Horváth, Hungary coach: “We had good reception but missed out on our chances in attack. I regret the end of the second set as we had the opportunity to level the score.”

Serbia vs. Italy 1-3 (22-25, 25-22, 14-25, 21-25)

Before Italy's opening match there was a minute's silence in honour of the victims of the Italian earthquake. Italy were more confident than Serbia and led by five points at the first break, but then came the unpredictability of Volleyball, and soon it was 9-all. It was the same later at 21-21 but after a well-timed time-out Italy took the first set 25-22 with Giulia Melli's powerful spike.

In the second set, the Italians started better again and led by five points at the halfway point. However, the Serbian team did not give up and always equalised. They scored four points in a row after trailing 21-22 and eventually won the set 25-22. 

The third set was very similar to the previous one, but the beginning was narrower than before. However, this time the Serbian resurrection never came and with a ten-point Italian advantage, Melli was the finisher to make it 25-14. 

In the fourth set the Serbian team regrouped, and it was a really spectacular game. However, after 14-14 there were two Serbian mistakes, which gave the advantage to the Italians, and the Azzurrine preserved it until the end with Elena Pietrini, who scored 14 points in the match, hitting the winning point.

Marijana Boricic, Serbia coach: “Italy were better tonight. We had to work hard, because we are the titleholder, but Italy are the world champions in this generation, so we expected they would play well. Unfortunately, we made many mistakes. Maybe I expected something more from my team. Tonight, we weren't at our level, so I hope so that we will be better in the next matches, because I think we can play much better than this.”

Luca Cristofani, Italy coach: “I am very happy about the result, but we did not play very well. My players were nervous. We have three players born in 2000 who are much younger than the others. We made many mistakes in the last set, but the most important is winning the first match.”

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