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09/04/2017 21:00
Russia are the 2017 #EuroVolleyU18W champions, Italy and Belarus settle for silver and bronze
2017 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship – Women

Arnhem, Netherlands, April 9, 2017. Russia were crowned European champions in Arnhem at the end of a long and amazing tournament, where they rallied to a remarkable 3-2 (18-25, 25-16, 26-24, 21-25, 15-10) win over Italy in a roller coaster final of the 2017 CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship – Women. Belarus finished their campaign with a 3-2 (17-25, 29-27, 25-17, 22-25, 15-13) win over Serbia in the bronze medal match to secure the first podium appearance for their country since the U18 women’s European Championship held in 2001.

You can follow the Championship also on Facebook and Twitter, with the official hashtag to be used for all of your posts and tweets being #EuroVolleyU18W!

FINAL | Italy vs. Russia

Russia overcame Italy in a remake of the match these teams had already contested in Pool I at the very beginning of the tournament and where the Italian girls overpowered the opponents in straight sets. This is Russia’s third title in the competition following their gold medal performances from 1997 and 2015. Russia are the first team to retain the title and have so far claimed six (3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze) medals in this competition. Italy were also vying for their third title after topping the charts in 1995 and 2001 but had to be content with silver. 

The expected clash of the giants was a real roller coaster. Italy got off to a very good start (16-10) and had widened their lead up to seven points before the crunch time in the first set (21-14). The Italian girls showed all their power which the spectators had become familiar with since the start of the competition. With an enormous offence rate of 60%, it was no surprise that Russia couldn’t deal with the Italian powerhouse and quickly ended up losing the opener at 18-25. The second set was exactly a reverse of the previous one. This time Russia improved their performance in attack from 30% to 48% while the Italian girls declined their efficiency to 38%. The reason for this lack was easy to find as Russia’s great working block-defence system touched almost every attack to equalise the game at 25-16.

The match continued that way. Italy were certainly hoping to prolong their positive trend for they had won all matches in the tournament but Russia were once more quick off the blocks in the third set. It was a close finish in the end as Russia cancelled one set ball at 23-24 to turn the score around with three points in a row to 26-24. As everyone thought that this was going to be the deciding moment, the Italian girls came back strong with great serves. They made three aces and stopped the Russian attack by troubling their reception. Eventual MVP Terry Ruth Enweonwu kept the Italian hopes alive and finished a strong fourth stage with 25-22.

The fifth set was decided before the crunch time. Russia were comfortably leading the way 12-7 to shatter the Italian dreams of glory. It looked like the reigning European champions were gradually finding their best play, especially with three killing blocks and a much better offence compared to Italy (54% to 35%). Russia’s outside spiker Valeriya Shevchuk made the last point to spark the celebrations among the members of her team.

Russia coach Alexander Karikov said: “Starting slowly is typical for a Russian team. Italy defeated us in the first game but the most important match was played today. I am so happy that we won the tournament. Our girls made an incredible job and deserved the win.’’

Russian assistant coach and Volleyball legend Ekaterina Gamova added: “I love the girls. I am just happy that we won the European Championship. I tried my best at this tournament and helped the girls where I could. It is a great job and I will do it as long as I can.’’ 

Luca Cristofani, Italy coach said: “Congratulations to Russia. Of course, we are disappointed but Russia were the better team today. We had a great tournament until the final and will go to the World Championship. We hope that we can deliver our best performance over there.’’

Bronze Medal Match | Serbia vs. Belarus

Belarus celebrated their second bronze medal in #EuroVolleyU18W history after earning a thrilling win over Serbia, with their opponents having to be content with fourth place. The match started with strong Serbia that profited from a good reception (57%) to snatch an early three-point lead at the first technical time-out (8-5). Belarus had too many problems in attack scoring just 27% of their efforts. The Serbians were fuelled with a lot of motivation after the thrilling semi-final defeat on Saturday and flew to an easy opener win with outside spikers Jovana Mirosavljevic and Dejana Lekic achieving already five points each in the opening set. The Belarus girls could improve the level of their performance in the second set and converted 37% of their attacks, but the most important was that they forced Serbia to play long rallies, which were mostly won by Belarus. They went up to 24-23 before they levelled the game by using their fifth set ball at 29-27. This important equalizer propelled a further improvement of their performacne, which resulted in an easy Belarusian win in the third set (25-17). As the game resumed, again Serbia woke up and took the leadership at the beginning of the fourth set. Both teams acted on the same level and put up a great fight. This time it was Serbia’s offense that could withstand the Belarusian pressure to take the set with four blocks and a very well working block-defence system at 25-22. The fifth set was a real thriller in the crunch time. Serbia already led the score 13-10 and were near to celebrating a successful #EuroVolleyU18W finish but they struggled with their nerves and didn’t make the final step while the Belarus girls gave all their energy and power in the last rallies. Belarus’s outstanding outside spiker Hanna Hryshkevich piled up the deciding points and deservedly top scored in the end with 24 points to start the party in Arnhem (15-13).

Natallia Melianiuk, Belarus coach celebrated the medal: “We are happy and glad that we finished the tournament this way. It  is a wonderful moment for everyone and we will enjoy it. We had to wait so long for another medal at the European Championship, so I am proud of my players. I told them in the fifth set that they should continue to put Serbia under pressure, and this worked out really well. We gave all our passion and energy in these moments, that was amazing.’’

Serbia coach Jovo Cakovic added: “First of all congratulations to Belarus. Of course, it is a hard moment for my players. It was the second match in a row where we had to play five sets. Our nerves made the difference in the end. Although we didn’t win a medal, it was still great to be here with the girls. It was such a bad start at the beginning, but we made a great comeback and belong to the best four teams in Europe as well as the best teams which can go to the World Championship later this year in Argentina.’’

#EuroVolleyU18W DREAM TEAM

SETTER: Rachele Morello / Italy

OPPOSITE: Terry Ruth Nkemdilim Enweonwu / Italy

OUTSIDE SPIKER: Elena Pietrini / Italy

OUTSIDE SPIKER: Valeriya Shevchuk / Russia

MIDDLE BLOCKER: Viktoriia Pushina / Russia

MIDDLE BLOCKER: Yuliya Kisliuk / Belarus

LIBERO: Mila Kocic / Serbia

MVP: Terry Ruth Nkemdilim Enweonwu / Italy 

News nr. 1 of 43
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