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06/06/2018 23:35
Estonia, Portugal complete Golden #EuroLeagueM Final Four
2018 CEV Volleyball Golden European League - Men

Luxembourg, June 6, 2018.  Estonia and Portugal joined Turkey and hosts Czech Republic into the Final Four of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Golden European League - Men, which will take place in Karlovy Vary on June 13 and 14. At home in Rakvere, the Estonians shut out Slovakia to become unreachable at the top of the final standings in Pool A. The Portuguese mastered a 3-1 home victory over the Czechs to win the first place in Pool C.


Estonia vs. Slovakia 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-20)

•    Coach Gheorghe Crețu did not make any changes during the game as the starting line-up was on top of the game.
•    Estonia secured the spot in the Final Four with the win.
•    Leader Robert Täht was the best scorer of the match with 17 points.

Gheorghe Crețu, coach of Estonia: "We were well prepared and able to focus throughout the game. We had a clear vision of what we wanted from the match and it was a team effort to make it to the Final Four."

Andrej Kravarik, coach of Slovakia: "It's not surprising that Estonia are in the Final Four. They played on the same level from the beginning until the end. Estonia is one level above us and we had a lot of injuries and other issues and I’m sorry about that. If we had had all the players, maybe the result could have been different."

Belgium vs. Sweden 0-3 (22-25, 15-25, 18-25)

•    Knowing the result of Estonia – Slovakia (3-0), it was clear that the match between Belgium and Sweden - the last game of the CEV Volleyball Golden European League in Kortrijk - would not have had an influence on the ranking of Belgium, which would anyway have finished 2nd in Pool A.
•    Nevertheless, coach Andrea Anastasi of Belgium started with his ‘basic’ starting six. Only Jelle Ribbens (back from injury) replaced Lowie Stuer. The result was a quick time-out from the Swedish coach Johan Isacsson at 7-1. A lack of concentration in the Red Dragons team gave Swedish setter Dardan Lushtaku (former player of Noliko MAASEIK) the chance to provide his teammates with some good passes. The yellow-blue team managed to achieve a sensational comeback taking advantage of the Belgians faults: from 12-13 till 20-20 and even 22-20 through Fredrik Gustavsson and captain Erik Sundberg. It was enough to take the first set.
•    The Swedish team got a boost by winning the first set. They played with a block of Swedish iron against the weak-looking Belgian spikers. It resulted into excellent efficiency of Swedish opposite Gustavsson (86%) and six Swedish blocks against one block for Belgium. Therefore, also the second set was won by Sweden.
•    Even 800 Belgian fans cheering on were not enough to revive the home team. The serves of Sundberg destroyed the inefficient Belgian defence, moving the score to 13-5 in the third set. There was an evident lack of concentration in the Belgian team and the even more motivated Swedish side celebrated a rather unexpected 3-0 victory. Thanks to this win Sweden took third place in the final standing of Pool A.
•    Fredrik Gustavsson (SWE) was the best scorer of the match with 18 points. Sam Deroo was top scorer for Belgium with nine points.
•    The match lasted only 73 minutes.

Stijn D’Hulst, player of Belgium: “Of course, the motivation was low as we knew this game had no more importance. But we started well and after the 7-1 in the first set, we let them come back into the game. If we had won the first set, then their motivation would have gone down. We were not fresh enough, we had not enough energy. We have to do better with a longer preparation for the World Championship."

Dardan Lushtaku, player of Sweden: "They underestimated us after the 7-1 in the first set. Our victory is not really a surprise for me. Two 3-0 wins in our last two games are important for the confidence of the team. In August we will play the European Championship qualifications and we hope to reach the Final Round."


Ukraine vs. Turkey 3-2 (31-29, 23-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-11)

Match facts / statements expected...

Slovenia vs. Netherlands 1-3 (19-25, 23-25, 25-23, 14-25)

•    Slovenia ended the competition in a similar manner to their beginning, with an unfortunate series of injuries. The last player who couldn't help the team in the last match was Ziga Stern.
•    After losing the first set 19-25, the home team delivered a better performance in the second set, led by Jan Klobucar and Jure Okroglic, who finished the match on 17 and 12 points respectively.
•    In the next set Jernej Detela contributed no less than 10 points and the Slovenians finally managed to have the upper hand.
•    The Netherlands’ captain Nimir Abdel-Aziz led his team to their fourth victory in the pool, scoring as many as 37 points, a record number in the League Round.

Jan Klobucar, player of Slovenia: "We did our best trying to deliver a good performance in front of our fans. We could have claimed the second set as well, but sadly we weren’t focused until the end and The Netherlands took advantage of it."

Nimir Abdel-Aziz, player of the Netherlands: "Today’s match was a difficult one to play. You know that you are playing almost without a goal, because you can’t be the first in the group, but you still want to finish the League Round with a win. That was important for us and I think that we did a good job today.".


Portugal vs. Czech Republic 3-1 (19-25, 27-25, 25-21, 25-19)

•    The home team made several errors in the first period of the game, before they levelled the score at 14-14.
•    Donovan Dzavoronok (Czech Republic) made the difference with his serves at the end of the first set (22-17) and this helped the Czech team win the opening set (25-19).
•    The team from Czech Republic started strong in the second set but could not hold on to it.
•    Alexandre Ferreira attacked really strong at the end of this set and Jose Monteiro served two aces in a row to finish the set with 27-25 for the home side.
•    Portugal took the lead in the third set (17-15) and two points from Ferreira closed it at 25-21.
•    Strongly supported by the fans, the home team won also the fourth set to secure their spot in the Final Four.
•    Best scorer of the match was Jan Hadrava from the Czech Republic with 21 points. Donovan Dzavoronok scored 20 times for the Czechs, while Alexandre Ferreira paced Portugal with 19.
•    Both teams will play the Final Four: the team from Portugal finished first in Pool C and the Czech Republic will host the tournament in Karlovy Vary.

Hugo Silva, coach of Portugal: "It’s a historic result since it allows us to reach the Final Four of the first edition of the Golden European League, which means that we are among the best 10 teams in Europe, which, considering the panorama of international Volleyball, is the same as to say of the world. Now that we are in the Final Four we want to reach the gold medal match."

Miguel Rodrigues, player of Portugal: "The Czech team is very strong, I even believe that they are candidates to the victory in the Final Four, that they will host in front of their fans. They started the match very well while we made many errors with our service. We had patience and waited for our game to come through, as it has happened in previous matches. We counted with the help of Jose Pedro Monteiro to close the second set, our confidence increased and we gained a two-point advantage that gave us enough confidence to lead for the rest of the match."

Jan Hadrava, player of Czech Republic: "We didn’t expect much from this match, we simply wanted to win. Now we have to focus on the Final Four. We hope that with the support of our fans we can reach the final, since the next match will be the most important of this period for us."

Spain vs. Finland 3-1 (31-29, 25-22, 19-25, 25-18)

•    Spain avoided the lowest position in the standing of their pool after winning the two first sets.  
•   The city of Soria lived up to the expectations from the National Team as the fans enthusiastically supported the Red Lynxes.
•    A thrilling first set was won by Spain in a dramatic fashion (31-29), after several set points for each team.
•   Andrés Villena helped Spain break away in the second set with his serve. The Spanish opposite registered 24 points, including two aces, to emerge as the top scorer of the match.
•    Finland reduced the gap in the third set with a great performance.
•    Spain recovered in the fourth set with a good performance, eventually claiming the victory and the third position in the final standing of Pool C.

Alejandro Vigil, player of Spain: “I think today was a great game for us. We played very well tonight. We have to improve some little things, but I am very happy with our game.”

Lauri Kerminen, player of Finland: “Spain won. We had a chance, but we made a lot of service mistakes. Our goal was to improve as a team, but today we did not reach these goals. We played better than the last game but we made too many easy mistakes.”

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