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18/06/2017 22:18
Reigning #EuroLeagueM silver medallists make it three wins in a row in Skopje
2017 CEV Volleyball European League - Men

Luxembourg, June 18, 2017. The 2015 and 2016 European League silver medallists, the Former Y.R. of Macedonia, completed on Sunday a clean sweep of their matches on home soil in Skopje to set their sights on qualification to the Final Four scheduled for July 1-2 in Gentofte, Denmark. Nikola Gjorgiev & Co. will be trying to achieve this feat next weekend in Tirana, with the Albanian capital set to host the second round robin tournament in Pool A. As for Pool B, action finished on Sunday in Nyíregyháza with Ukraine and Denmark claiming their respective matches with hosts Hungary and Israel to complete their duties on a high note – and get an extra boost ahead of the climax of the competition coming up in early July.  

Pool A in Skopje (MKD)

Azerbaijan vs. Albania

Albania improved their win-loss record in this year’s European League to 2-1 following their 3-1 victory over Azerbaijan (25-22, 25-22, 17-25, 25-10). Their absolute leader Gazmend Husaj delivered a stellar performance (21 points) but further support came from some of the second lines, such as Redjo Koci and Anton Qafarena who did not feature in the starting six at the beginning of the match. Albania caught the better start and controlled the game from start to end in the opening set, even though Azerbaijan came back strong with three points in a row to level the score at 22-all. Azerbaijan claimed a 19-16 lead in the second set but Albania responded by playing more aggressively and they eventually doubled their lead in the match with two aces from Enea Xhelati. Azerbaijan’s middle blockers stepped up their efforts in the third set and this had a huge impact on their game – with Azerbaijan taking the third set at a canter (25-17). However, that was the best they could do in this game since Albania swept them aside in set four (25-10) to celebrate their second victory in Skopje. Next week Albania will be trying to use the home-court advantage in Tirana to secure their progression to the Final Four.

Sweden vs. Former Y.R. of Macedonia

The Former Y.R. of Macedonia made it three wins in as many matches on home soil in Skopje as they beat Sweden 3-1 (24-26, 25-17, 25-18, 25-18) to keep a perfect record in the competition. They did so with the help of their star player Nikola Gjorgiev, who won the duel with Swedish scoring machine Fredrik Gustavsson by scoring 27 points vs. 19 for the Scandinavian player. As a result, the 2015 and 2016 silver medallists are close to making it to the European League Finals for the third straight year. Even though Sweden caught the better start to the match and took the first set, the hosts responded well to the challenge and Gjorgiev played once again a leading role in the Macedonian victory. Rookies Sweden finish the tournament in Skopje with one victory only and will have to take at least two of their three matches next week in Tirana if they want to progress to the Final Four. 

Pool B in Nyíregyháza (HUN)

Ukraine vs. Hungary

Ukraine claimed an early 8-4 lead in the first set of their matchup with hosts Hungary and they were able to hold on to it as they rallied to a comprehensive 25-15 victory. Hungary fought their way back to cruise to an 8-2 advantage in the second set on five straight serves by Cameron Keen and the hosts were able to stand the Ukrainian comeback showing a lot of composure also towards the end of the set to level the game (25-21). The third set was a much closer fight, with Ukraine leading 16-14 at the second technical time-out before the visitors emerged victorious at 25-21. Hungary responded again and the players coached by Juan Manuel Barrial stormed to a 25-22 win in the fourth set to extend the match to a tiebreak. Ukraine, however, regrouped there (8-5) and eventually celebrated a 3-2 victory (15-11).
At the end of the match, a small ceremony took place with home star Krisztian Padar announcing that the money resulting from a bid would be used to support the National Down Syndrome Society.  

“Today I decided to provide some players who do not feature on the starting six with an opportunity to play and they did a good job,” said Ukraine coach Ugis Krastins.
“We played our best match this weekend and I am satisfied with what our players did,” Hungary coach Barrial said.

Denmark vs. Israel

Denmark and Israel completed the programme of the tournament in Nyíregyháza with a match lasting for four sets. Israel caught the better start to the game and they were able to stay ahead from start to end of the opening set, this resulting in a relatively comfortable 25-19 win. However, Denmark responded by scoring seven consecutive points in the early stages of the second set, thus leading 8-1 before closing it out at 25-18. The third and four sets finished with the same score, again for Denmark, who could celebrate a 3-1 victory.
“It was a very difficult match for us since Israel was well-prepared but I am happy that we could win in the end,” said Denmark head coach Mikael Trolle.
“This competition was very important for us in order to gain experience and I hope that my team can continue to grow and develop in the next few years,” said Israel head coach Grzegorz Rys.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

News nr. 7 of 17
23/06/2017 22:00:00
Former Y.R. of Macedonia roll on in #EuroLeagueM as Albania also record another victory
17/06/2017 22:16:00
Ukraine book ticket to #EuroLeagueM Finals

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