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18/07/2018 22:38
Czechs on to #EuroVolleyU20M semis! All else in Ede up for grabs
2018 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men

Ede, The Netherlands, July 18, 2018.  Czech Republic became the first team to secure their spot in the semifinals of the 2018 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship – Men, as the fourth competition day in Ede unfolded. The Czechs opened Pool I for business on Wednesday and cruised to their third victory of the tournament – a speedy 3-0 over Belarus, which at that point only stamped their tickets to The Hague. After Portugal managed their first win at #EuroVolleyU20M, defeating Finland in four sets, and The Netherlands won the nail-biting five-set drama against Germany, the reigning 2017 U19 European champions found out they would be travelling first class, as one of the best four teams of the tournament.

The Netherlands and Belarus are likely to decide the other semifinalist from the pool in a direct battle on Thursday, with Germany still holding a shot at the semis as well. Finland and Portugal are still in contention for the fifth place of the championship.

Czech Republic vs. Belarus 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-20)

Belarus were no match for the Czechs in the first set, who quickly took control and with the help of three kill blocks by Josef Polak and four aces won the set by 25-18. The situation did not change much in the second. Polak continued to block away (four stuffs in the set) leading his teammates to doubling their lead at 25-19, shaped up with an ace by Lukas Vasina for the last point. Uladzislau Davyskiba, scoring four spikes and two aces in the third set, tried to lead Belarus to some kind of a turnaround, but to no avail. The Czechs kept their steady pace and once again broke away with a comfortable advantage. Pavel Horak aced for 25-20 to set off the Czech party on the court. Czech opposite Marek Sotola was the top scorer of the match with 14 points. Josef Polak added 11, eight of which from blocking. Uladzislau Davyskiba was Belarus’s most prolific player with 12 points.

Jan Svoboda, coach of Czech Republic: "I’m very proud of my team because they played very well. The result of the match was decided by the pressure we put on from the beginning through the end. We decided the rallies in reception and blocking. We had eight aces and 11 kill blocks. That’s the reason we played better."

Ondrej Piskacek, captain of Czech Republic: "This was a game decided by serving and defence. I think that Belarus are a good team, with good jump serves. We won because we outplayed them at the net and made a lot of blocks."

Oleg Mikanovich, coach of Belarus: "Czech Republic were good with their serves. In defence they were everywhere. Maybe my team was impressed by them. Making a mistake against this team was easy. It could be that we are not ready to play at this level yet."

Uladzislau Charnysh, player of Belarus: "Czech Republic were the U19 champions last year. We did what we could, but they were stronger. It wasn’t good enough."

Finland vs. Portugal 1-3 (22-25, 25-17, 19-25, 22-25)

With Niko Suihkonen spearheading the offence, Finland held the initiative for the most part of the first set. On several occasions, Portugal managed to come back from two-point deficits and even held a minimal advantage for a while. After 20-18 Finland’s way, Portugal scored five in a row to set foot on the set and closed it off at 25-22 with a successful spike by David Araujo. The second set was very tight through 8-8. With a series of four points, Finland broke away and never looked back. Suihkonen continued to lead the pack with eight points in this set, but it was sub-in Jere Heiskanen who put the ball on the floor for the final 25-17. The Portuguese were well in control throughout the third set and won it by 25-19. The Finns attempted a comeback and took an 11-8 advantage in the fourth set. With four points in a row, Portugal regained control of the scoreboard and with an excellent job by setter Afonso Reis cruised on to a 25-22 win. Finland’s Niko Suihkonen and Portugal’s David Araujo made 16 and 14 points, respectively, to lead the scorers of the game.

Nuno Miguel dos Santos Pereira, coach of Portugal: "It was a good game. We sensed how to play against this opponent. Congratulations to my team! Our reception and our blocking were better than in the previous games."

Afonso Reis, captain of Portugal: "We became better during this competition. We lost our first two games, but in the game against the Netherlands we played better. Today, we were better again and we won. Now we want to win the next game as well."

The Netherlands vs. Germany 3-2 (25-16, 18-25, 16-25, 25-23, 16-14)

In the first set the Germans held up only through 7-7. The fantastic serving efforts by Bennie Tuinstra (three aces) and his teammates (three more), plus some excellent spiking, tremendous blocking and enthusiastic support from the home crowd, resulted in an emphatic 25-16 Dutch win. The Germans stormed into the second set with a 4-0 run, but the Dutch tied immediately and stayed competitive through 10-11. Six points in a row, with Eric Burggräf, were the blow the Netherlands never recovered from as their opponents cruised to a 25-18 close. Similarly, in the third set, after 10-9, Germany broke away with a phenomenal series of 10 points, this time with Erik Röhrs on serving duty, and then it was only a matter of time to win the set – 25-16. Röhrs and Burggräf continued their quality serving into the fourth set. With improved reception, some prolific blocking by Sjors Tijhuis and incessant inspiration from the stands, the Dutch recovered from a six-point deficit to take control of the epilogue, mastering a 25-23 finish to prompt a tie-breaker. The deciding set was a nail-biting drama in itself. Germany went up the rollercoaster first to take a 9-4 lead. Some out-of-this-world blocking by Tijhuis put the home team back into the driver seat – 14-11. The Germans did not give up and managed to deny the triple match point before an explosive hit by sub-in Daan Streutker off the block got the party started at 16-14. Linus Weber’s 18 points for Germany put him on top of the scorers’ chart. Cas Abraham was the best scorer for the Netherlands with 15 points, while his teammate Sjors Tijhuis impressed with his eight kill blocks.

Eric Noordijk, assistant coach of The Netherlands: "What an emotional rollercoaster. We both had good phases in the game and that went back and forth. In the fifth set this turned in our favour. You are under pressure the whole time. There is nothing greater then taking this victory home."

Joris Berkhout, player of The Netherlands: "This is Volleyball! In the first set we played fantastic. In the second and the third sets a little less. In the fourth and the fifth we gave good resistance. If you don’t like Volleyball now, I don’t know what else can convince you."

Johan Verstappen, coach of Germany: "Of course we are disappointed. When you are dominating the game after the second set and a lot of points ahead in the fourth and the fifth set you can’t give it away like that!"

Eric Burggräf, captain of Germany: "We were very nervous the first set and that’s why we lost. We fought back in the second and third set. As a team we were very strong. But it’s sad that we were ahead with five points but still gave it away in the end. We fought till the end. I’m very proud of our performance." 

Engage with the U20 European Championship on social media by using the competition’s official hashtag #EuroVolleyU20M.

Click here for more information.

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