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07/04/2013 21:15
Poland save five match balls to bounce back and claim gold, Turkey finish third
2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Girls

Bar, Montenegro, April 7, 2013. Poland claimed their second gold medal in the history of CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls by overpowering Italy 21-25, 17-25, 25-19, 27-25, 18-16 in tonight’s electrifying gold medal battle in Bar, Montenegro. Titleholder Turkey came up to expectations by taking their fourth consecutive medal at CEV/FIVB Youth and Junior competitions as they outclassed Serbia 25-22, 25-23, 25-15 in the bronze medal clash.

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Poland vs. Italy 3:2 (21-25, 17-25, 25-19, 27-25, 18-16)
Poland claimed their second gold medal in the history of CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls as they saved five match balls against Italy and eventually pulled through 3:2 after five hard-fought sets in the last match of the CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls on Sunday. In front of 1,000 fans, World No. 7 won 21-25, 17-25, 25-19, 27-25, 18-16 in 120 minutes.
Poland’s Malwina Smarzek was the game’s top scorers with 21 points, while Sara Bonifacio gained 18 kills for Poland, including 10 blocks.
The match started with Italy getting a four-point advantage early on at 11-7 as they well-covered the court with excellent block-defense work. The East Europeans slowly rolled their engines with Kornelia Moskwa and Magdalena Damaske working effectively to reduce the gap to two points at 16-18. Neither was going to easily give up the chance to walk away as a winner. Italy’s middle blocker Sara Bonifacio and libero Marianna Maggipinto combined efforts to take the first set in favor of Italy at 25-21. Poland’s top scorer Malwina Smarzek had scored only one point in the initial set.
The second set remained a one-way affair as the Poles, falling quickly behind, couldn’t find any solution to outfox the impressive “squadra azzurra”. At the second technical timeout, the upcoming Italians led with a comfortable eight-point advantage. Another inspiring block by Bonifacio moved her team ahead at 18-10. With their attack struggling, Poland made three successive offensive errors and trailed all the way as the South Europeans picked up the second set by a sharp spike from Anna Danesi.
Going down by two sets, Poland fought bravely to step back. They displayed tight floor defence, allowing hitters to perform more attack strategies that break the solid defensive system from Italy. The comeback of power hitter Smarzek, who scored eight points in the third period, and 11 Italians errors helped Poland overcome Italy and leveled one set back at 25-19.
Sensing an opportunity the Poles looked to take quick control of the fourth set before the first technical break. Poland showed their huge determination as they performed much better now. The Italians – however – drew level at 13-13. It was well expected this set turned to a point-by-point basis which engaged the crowd with much more enthusiastic final atmosphere. Both sides showed their strong will and neither one could build a leading advantage until at 21-21. Danesi and Alice Degradi brought up two match points for Italy at 24-22 but Smarzek and Magdalena Damaske fired back to turn the tables at 24-25. Italy couldn’t react as Giulia Angelina tipped the ball out of bounds to make it two sets to two.
Italy executed better offense to take the advantage early on in the final set. But Poland's winning spirit was important as they kept the gap narrow and eventually went ahead at 12-11. Poland’s mental skills proved valuable for them in the end to save three more Italian match balls and make them escape the thrilling fifth set in extremis at 18-16, amazingly claiming gold at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls.

Poland head coach Grzegorz Kosatka: “It’s unbelievable what happened tonight. I can’t put it into words. My girls are completely crazy.”
Poland captain Paulina Baldyga: “We worked very hard and showed great fighting spirit. At the end, it was all about mental power. A dream becomes true.”
Italy head coach Luca Pieragnoli: “We gave Poland the chance to come back with poor serves in the crucial phases of the match. Finally we paid dearly for that lack of experience.”
Italy captain Ofelia Malinov: “We had our destiny in our hands, but couldn’t conclude. Congratulations to Poland, they never gave up.”

Turkey vs. Serbia 3:0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-15)
Titleholder Turkey came up to expectations by taking their fourth consecutive medal at CEV/FIVB Youth and Junior competitions as they outclassed Serbia 25-22, 25-23, 25-15 in today’s bronze medal clash at 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls.
Turkey had 37% positive receptions while Serbia had only 22% and 19 direct mistakes.
Pelin Aroguz scored 19 points to lead the game; Sara Lozo booked 11 kills for Serbia.
After 20-all in the first set, Turkey started to take an upper hand to pull away while Serbia struggled with poor service reception. Captain Arelya Karasoy added another service winner to move the scoreboard to 23-20 for Turkey. Serbia answered with two missiles from the right side but couldn’t prevent Su Zent from blocking for a 25-22 Turkey set win.
In the second set, the Serbian girls found their rhythm back and exchanged lead with their opponents, but it was Turkey that led into second technical break 16-14. Turkey then wrapped up five out of the next seven points to enlarge the lead to 21-16. With some spectacular spikes from Aroguz, the Turkish team made a match of it after winning at 25-23.
The third set saw a recovering Serbian team in the beginning, with Sara Lozo and Bojana Milenkovic smashing home to fire the team 7-4 up and forcing Turkey off for a timeout. However, Serbia just could not continue the momentum while Rida Erlalelitepe contributed two points to lead Turkey pull within 16-14 at the second technical timeout. It then became a one-team show with Turkey booking six consecutive points and never looking back until 25-15.

Turkey head coach Catma Sahin: “We have lost a very intense match yesterday, but today we played very well. Turkish volleyball goes upwards and I would like to congratulate my players and staff for their hard work.”
Turkey captain Arelya Karasoy: “This was a very important match for us. We played very well. We are happy to win bronze and I would like to congratulate all my teammates.”
Serbia head coach Marijana Boricic: “Unfortunately we lost the match. The main problem was the lack of experience of my players but probably there is also a sort of complex my players have when they play with Turkey. We lost all three matches we played against them.”
Serbia captain Jelena Vignjevic: “I would like to congratulate the Turkish team for their victory today. We had the chance to win the first and third set but couldn’t pull through. Nevertheless, I’m happy we made it to the semis.”

Best Players:
MVP: Anastasia Guerra (Italy)
Best SPIKER: Pelin Aroguz (Turkey)
Best BLOCKER: Hande Baladin (Turkey)
Best SERVER: Maja Aleksic (Serbia)
Best LIBERO: Marianna Maggipinto (Italy)
Best RECEIVER: Pola Nowakowska (Poland)
Best SETTER: Eva Mori (Slovenia)
Best SCORER: Anthi Vasilantonaki (Greece)

Final Ranking:
1. Poland*°
2. Italy*°
3. Turkey*°
4. Serbia*°
5. Greece*°
6. Slovenia*°
7. Germany°
8. Russia
9. The Netherlands°
10. The Czech Republic
11. France
12. Montenegro

The final ranking of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls has determined the six teams representing Europe at this year’s FIVB Girls' Youth World Championship* coming up later this summer in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, as well as the eight nations taking part at the European Youth Olympic Festival° in Utrecht (NED), including the organizers from the Netherlands. 

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