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21/07/2018 19:59
Russia to challenge Czech Republic in big #EuroVolleyU20M final!
2018 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 21, 2018.  Czech Republic and Russia emerged as the finalists of the 2018 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men. Last year’s U19 European champions will be defending their crown at the U20 level in The Hague on Sunday after winning the first semifinal on Saturday – 3-1 over Belgium. In the second semifinal, Russia also took four sets to come out with the victory from the showdown against hosts The Netherlands.

Czech Republic vs. Belgium 3-1 (25-17, 14-25, 25-23, 25-21)

The first set was very competitive and the gap never exceeded three points in favour of either side until the score of 19-17 to Czech Republic. In the epilogue, the Czechs went on a six-point run, with Jan Svoboda on serving duty, to storm to a 25-17 finish. The second set was all about the Belgians, who played with a lot of precision, at the same time taking advantage of the many unforced mistakes on the other side of the net, to cruise to a 25-14 win and level the match. Berre Peters scored the set-winning putaway with a thunderous pipe shot. The third set was the most competitive one, with the Czechs generally staying in the lead and the Belgians occasionally sticking their noses in front. Some great blocking by Czechia towards the end led them to a 25-23 close. The battle got feistier in the fourth set. The Czechs gradually worked their way to a five-point lead at 20-15, but lost it in one go as Belgium scored five in a row with Mathijs Desmet behind the serving line. This served as a new wake-up call for the Czechs, who reacted with four consecutive points to reach match point, which seconds later was converted to a 25-21 win with a successful spike by Marek Sotola. Belgium’s Mathijs Desmet and Matthieu Vanneste shared the top-scoring honours of the match with 15 points each, while Marek Sotola ended up with a 14-point contribution to his team’s victory.

Jan Svoboda, coach of Czech Republic: "I am very happy. We wanted to take home a medal from this tournament. Now we have at least silver, which makes us very happy. I hope we play the same way in the final. Today we had an excellent performance in defence, especially in blocking."

Ondrej Piskacek, captain of Czech Republic: "It was an emotional match. Belgium played very well, especially with the float serves. I would like to thank my receivers for playing so well."

Kris Eyckmans, coach of Belgium: "Czech Republic are strong at every position. We knew at the beginning that we had to play at our best and that everything had to be right to have a chance against them. We allowed too many kill blocks against us, so we had to work very hard. Czech Republic deserved this victory."

Matthieu Vanneste, captain of Belgium: "We were evenly matched in the game. When the time was crucial we made too many mistakes, which they didn’t, and that’s why we lost the game. It has been a great tournament for us, but today Czech Republic were better than us."

Russia vs. The Netherlands 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-12, 25-22)

In a very closely contested first set, with many changes in the lead, the Russians made fewer unforced errors and that is what eventually made the difference. On first set point, Ivan Kuznetcov’s monster block closed it off at 25-23. In the second set, the Russians committed far too many mistakes. The Dutch, on the other hand, continued their good blocking effort to help establish control on the court and level the match after a 25-20 win. After erasing a three-point deficit early in the third set, the Russians took over the events on the court and, rarely allowing the opponents to score, rallied on to a 25-12 landslide, shaped up by a lucky mishit by Kuznetcov for the last point. The home team could not hold on to an early three-point lead in the fourth set and things were very tight through 21-21, after which Russia jumped to match point with three points in a row. On their second opportunity to close the match, middle blocker Artem Melnikov hammered one through the centre to do so at 25-22. Russia’s Maxim Sapozhkov and The Netherlands’ Daan Streutker were the best scorers of the match with 17 and 16 points, respectively.


Andrey Nozdrin, coach of Russia: "The match was very hard. After the second set, we changed tactics, which brought us success, but we had to fight for every point today. The Dutch squad played very well. For some guys it was quite a new experience because we have a new team we played in the semifinal with. And we won!"

Konstantin Abaev, captain of Russia: "We wanted to win and The Netherlands wanted to win. They played a good game. They have good service and blocks. We made many serving mistakes in the second set, but afterwards we had nice service, many blocks and we won."

Bennie Tuinstra, captain of The Netherlands: "Too bad we lost today. Against such a strong team it is always difficult. We played the first and the second sets really well. That’s why we won the second set. In the third set we made a lot of mistakes. Russia played well and kept the pressure on us with their serve. That’s why we lost the game."

Cas Abraham, player of The Netherlands: "Too bad we lost by 1-3, because we know we could have won. In the second set we were in a flow, defence and offence were good. The third set we lost because of their serve pressure. We weren’t able to get back in the game. Russia were better today."

Both medal matches are scheduled for live streaming on

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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