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01/07/2017 22:20
Former Y.R. of Macedonia and Ukraine to meet in #EuroLeagueM final
2017 CEV Volleyball European League - Men

Gentofte, Denmark, July 1, 2017. On Sunday night, at 19:00 local time, the Former Y.R. of Macedonia and Ukraine will play the final of the European League in the Gentoftehallen in Gentofte. In the first dramatic semi-final Ukraine beat Sweden 18-16 at the tiebreak. In the second match, between hosts Denmark and the Former Y.R. of Macedonia, the latter won in five sets too. Denmark and Sweden will play for the bronze medal at 16:00.

Sweden vs Ukraine

Sweden and Ukraine crossed swords in the first semi-final of the men’s Final Four of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European League. After a dramatic encounter and match points to both teams, Ukraine won 3-2 and advanced to the final of the European League for the first time in history.

Sweden and Ukraine both missed some important players in Gentofte due to injuries or illness, such as Fredrik Gustavsson and Erik Sundberg (Sweden) and Vasyl Tupchii (Ukraine). These absences didn’t affect the excitement in today’s match, on the contrary, both teams played at an almost equal level.

In the first set Ukraine had the better start, and they were leading 16-13 at the second technical time-out. Sweden evened the score at 17-17, and especially Jacob Link made a great impression. The left-handed opposite became the top scorer of this match, with 24 points. Helped by his points, Sweden won the first set: 25-23.

With a historic spot in the European League final at stake, Ukraine came out strong in the second set and convincingly tied the score at 1-1. Setter Volodymyr Kovalchuk was distributing his set-ups in a great way, given the fact that all his attackers scored with good percentages.

Ukraine kept the pace in the third set, and was able to hold off Jacob Link. With Sweden’s most powerful weapon unarmed, Ukraine coasted their way to a 25-16 win.

After being a bit quiet for two sets, the many Swedish fans in Gentofte had something to cheer for again in the fourth set. The Swedish players refused to give up without a fight and found their A-game, brought a secret weapon in the shape of David Pettersson on the court and tied the score at 2-2 after winning the fourth set 25-22.

In the thrilling tiebreak, Ukraine was leading 8-6 when the teams switched sides. Sweden fought back, and deserved the first match point at 14-13. Ukraine survived and converted their own third match point to 18-16.

Ugis Krastins, coach of the Ukraine: “I am very proud of the boys”

Ugis Krastins, head coach of the Ukraine: “This was a really fun match to play. We knew we had to work hard to win it, and luckily, we did both. I am very proud of the boys. They showed character and winning mentality and kept fighting until the very last point. What we achieved today, we achieved as a team. This is our first appearance in the European League, and it’s a big chance for us to grow as a team. That we are now in the gold medal match just makes it even more fantastic.” 

Johan Isacsson, coach of Sweden: “This is sport in a nutshell”

Johan Isacsson, head coach of Sweden: “Right now it hurts that we lost. But this is sport in a nutshell. We knew it would be a tough match, but I really think the guys brought their best to the court. They played fantastic. You need to be ready for each point and every rally. And you need to execute with quality. Both teams did that today, and as the result reflects, it is the small things that determined the winner.”

Denmark vs Former Y.R. of Macedonia

The home heroes were eager to give the many Danish fans in Gentofte Sportspark what they came for, and took Former Y.R. of Macedonia by surprise in the first set. With unpredictable floating services, and athletic reception by libero Frederik Mikelsons, Denmark closed the first set 25-19.

Denmark started strong again in the second set and found themselves ahead 16-11 at the second technical time-out. The Macedonians were unable to find a way through the Danish blocks, and it was the strong Peter Trolle Bonnesen who closed the set in favour of Denmark with a kill block: 25-20.

In the third set the Former Y.R. of Macedonia showed why they went undefeated through the pool stage and have been in the Final Four for the past three years. The players in the yellow shirts were leading 16-11 at the second technical time-out. Never looking back, the team of coach Dragutin Baltic won the set at a canter: 25-14.

The tension and temperature rose in Gentofte Sportspark as the Danes, after trailing 12-19 in the fourth set, fought themselves back to 19-20. Despite the comeback of the host, the players from the Former Y.R. of Macedonia kept their minds cool and secured the set: 25-20.

In the second tiebreak of the day, Nikola Gjorgiev, the most famous player from the Former Y.R. of Macedonia, stood up. The strong opposite (26 points) led his team to 15-11, and a 3-2 win.

Nikola Gjorgiev, captain of the Former Y.R. of Macedonia: “We want to win the gold tomorrow”

Nikola Gjorgiev, captain of the Former Y.R. of Macedonia: “In the first two sets we were sleeping, but Denmark also played very well. We woke up in the third set and showed the kind of level we have been playing this entire European League. I am very happy with this win. This is not the end for this team. We want to win gold against Ukraine tomorrow.”

Mikael Trolle, head coach of Denmark: “We couldn’t cope with the pressure”

Mikael Trolle, head coach of Denmark: “We were completely in control in the first two sets. But then the service pressure changed. We started making too many mistakes and the Former Y.R. of Macedonia just kept a wild service pressure on us. Unfortunately, our young guys have difficulties coping with the pressure. For many of them it is the first time they play such a big game. It is crazy disappointing. This is sport, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

News nr. 2 of 17
02/07/2017 21:57:00
Ukraine claim historic gold in European League, bronze for Sweden
30/06/2017 11:00:00
High hopes for Denmark before their biggest match in four years

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