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30/04/2017 22:06
Czech Republic’s Cinderella story takes them to Europe’s golden top!
2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship - Men

Győr, Hungary, April 30, 2017.  The young team of the Czech Republic beat all odds to become the new U19 Volleyball champions of Europe! Continuing their Cinderella story all the way through the final match of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship - Men, the Czech heroes hammered out a fairy-tale 3-2 (25-19, 14-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-13) victory over one of the pre-tournament favourites, Italy, to triumph with a historic gold. This is Czech Republic’s only second medal in the history of this competition with the first one, a bronze, from the third edition back in 1999. Italy had to settle for the silver medal. The bronze went to Turkey, which earlier managed a 3-2 victory over Russia in the third place match.

Czech Republic vs. Italy 3-2 (25-19, 14-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-13)

Throughout the first set the Czech team was running like a fine-tuned engine. Opposite Marek Sotola was unstoppable in offence. He contributed with a couple of kill blocks for a total of nine points in the set, including the last one, which closed it off at 25-19.

Destiny changed in the second set. Now the Italian machine started functioning with all of its components contributing to a great Volleyball product. They minimised the unforced errors and improved their blocking and serving to cruise to an impressive 25-14 finish.

The tables were once again turned in the third set. After 4-4 the Czechs scored 11 points in a row with captain Ondrej Piskacek behind the serving line. As a setter, Piskacek changed his tactics and surprised the Italians by setting the ball mostly in zone 4. And Jan Svoboda was ready for it. He made seven successful hits for a total of nine points on his tally towards a convincing 25-17 win.

The fourth set was a block fest on both sides of the net, but this time the Italians had the upper hand in spiking. Putting in a great team effort, the Azzurrini gradually opened a gap that the Czech squad could not recover from – 25-19 Italy’s way, and it was time for the tie-break.

The crucial set was as much of a nail-biter as the whole match. The Czechs ran off to a 7-4 lead only to see the Italians catch up at 8-8. The story repeated once again – 11-8 to the Czech Republic, followed by a 12-12 tie – to keep the suspense. Two rallies later coach Jiri Zach’s squad had a double match point. Marek Sotola used their second chance to close the match and put the ball on the floor for 15-13 with one of his powerful hits.

Ondrej Piskacek, captain of the Czech Republic: “We gave our hearts in the fifth set and we are the champions. This is the most valuable thing we can achieve at our age. It is incredible! For sure we will have a little celebration tonight, but the main party will be at home.”

Jiri Zach, coach of team Czech Republic: “We started the first set well, we made no mistakes, but afterwards they started to risk their serves and we started to have problems. In the third set I believed we could win. The fifth set was just the jackpot. Before every match we have a motivational video made by our statistician Petra and this is the proof that it works! I am so happy!”

Lorenzo Cortesia, player of Italy: “The passion of the game was missing at the beginning. We started to play from the second set. The Czech Republic has a great and strong team. It was a close match, but they were better. We are disappointed.”

Mario Barbiero, coach of Italy: “I am very angry at my team. We did not play very nice Volleyball today. The Czech Republic did a brilliant job. I am happy for the boys in general. I am looking forward to coming back to Hungary for the European Youth Olympic Festival.”

Engage with the U19 European Championship on social media by using the competition’s official hashtag #EuroVolleyU19M.

Click here for more information, including a detailed match schedule.

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30/04/2017 22:08:00
Turkey’s Adis Lagumdzija honoured as #EuroVolleyU19M MVP!
30/04/2017 18:47:00
Turkey win #EuroVolleyU19M bronze in titanic clash with Russia

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