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25/08/2018 20:25
Belarus, Ukraine make it four wins in a row in #EuroVolleyM qualifiers, Austria to surprise Portugal
2019 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men

Luxembourg, August 25, 2018. The team of Belarus did not have any big problems in the fourth leg of the Qualifications for the 2019 CEV European Volleyball Championship - Men. On Saturday, the players headed by Viktar Beksha outclassed the team of Georgia at 3-0. In the other matchup from that Pool E, Norway and Spain delivered a great Volleyball spectacle with the Norwegian team eventually winning at the tiebreak. Austria surprised the leaders in Pool D with winning 3-1 over them later on Saturday. The matches from the #EuroVolleyM Qualifiers could be watched on or following the CEV social media channels.

Pool D

Austria vs. Portugal 3-1 (26-24, 21-25, 25-23, 26-24)

•    Austria Men’s Volleyball team delivered a convincing performance by defeating Pool D leaders Portugal in a sold-out Stadt & Sporthalle Zwettl.
•    Portugal, promoted to the Volleyball Nations League earlier this year, had not dropped a set until tonight’s encounter.
•    Despite Saturday’s loss, the Portuguese team tops Pool D, followed by Austria, and the Austrians have an excellent chance to make it to the Final Round of the European Championship for the first time through qualification.
•    In the third set the home side suffered a big backlash, though, with star opposite Paul Buchegger injuring his knee.
•    The other home star player Alexander Berger was sidelined with injury once again.
•    Top scorers: Paul Buchegger (17 points), Thomas Tröthann (15), Thomas Zass (15) for Austria; Alexandre Ferreira (13), Marco Ferreira (12) and Filip Cveticanin (8) for Portugal.

Peter Wohlfahrtstätter, captain of Austria: “We knew that at one point the team would erupt. It was not a fun game to play, we had to work hard. When Thomas Zass replaced Paul [Buchegger], he was on fire immediately. The win can be very important, but we need to stay focused.”

Valdir Sequeira, player of Portugal: “Austria showed a great team effort, different from the game last Wednesday in Braga. Today they stood united. On the other side, we stopped playing as a team in the second set, we tried it individually.”

Pool E

Norway vs. Spain 3-2 (29-27, 12-25, 25-21, 19-25, 15-12)

•    Never before has a Norwegian team beaten a top-level nation on Norwegian soil. This was a huge lift for Volleyball in Norway.
•    It was a show of mental strength to come back after losing sets 2 and 4 and still take home the win 3-2.
•    This victory gives the Norwegian men’s team a fair chance of qualifying for the Finals.

Norwegian head coach Tore Aleksandersen was very proud of his players after securing the win 3-2. “If the team had lost, after losing in Spain, then our chances of qualifying would have been almost nil. Now we are very much in the running for the finals. We allowed Spain to get back into the match in the second and fourth sets by losing our concentration and being nonchalant at what we need to do. This luckily changed in the fifth and deciding set, which shows the ability in this team. Now the final match in January at home against Belarus will be the one that decides which two teams will go to the finals. It is on our court, with our enthusiastic fans, and an opportunity for Norwegian Volleyball that will be epic.”

Georgia vs. Belarus 0-3 (13-25, 13-25, 14-25)

•    This was the second consecutive match between Georgia and Belarus with the Belarusian side emerging victorious at the same score.
•    Uladzislau Davyskiba from Belarus had an impressive match, being the Best Scorer, Best Server and Best Spiker.

Viktar Beksha, head coach of Belarus: “The first set was a difficult one for the team because Georgia served really hard and it made us work harder on our reception. We expected to win today, but we also knew that it would be a little bit harder to do so. But the result is positive for us and we made everything in this round. Next matches are going to be held in January 2019, and we have a lot of work to do in the upcoming months.”

Pool F

Hungary vs. Ukraine 1-3 (26-28, 20-25, 25-19, 24-26)

•    Ukraine secured their fourth victory in as many matches.
•    Ukraine caught a very good start to the match but Hungary responded swiftly with Cameron Illés Keen standing behind the service line. Hungary wasted three set balls at the end of the opening set, with Ukraine eventually sealing a 28-26 win.
•    Hungary did not falter and claimed a three-point lead in the early stages of the second set. However, Ukraine drew level and after that comfortably cruised to a 25-20 win.
•    Hungary were able to improve their game in the third set, which they eventually won at 25-19 with the help of their star player Krisztian Padar.
•    The pre-favourite Ukrainians responded in the fourth set; after a close race, Ukraine focused better towards the end of the set and finished the match off at 26-24 to secure a 3-1 victory and keep their perfect record in the pool.

Bogdan Tanase, head coach of Hungary: “We played well but we still make too many mistakes. I am happy that there is more and more spectators at the matches of our team. Until we have some chance, we will fight for the qualification to the Final Round.”

Ugis Krastins, head coach of Ukraine: “It was a difficult match as we expected it to be. I am proud of my team. Everybody played with passion.”

Switzerland vs F.Y.R. of Macedonia 2-3 (21-25, 19-25, 25-16, 25-23. 12-15)

•    Switzerland completed a big comeback after having trailed 0-2 after two sets. F.Y.R. of Macedonia, however, were able find back into their game in the decisive tiebreak and to prevail 15-12 after a 4-1 head start.
•    F.Y.R. of Macedonia captain, Nikola Gjorgiev, topped the scoring charts yet again adding 33 points to his tally in the 2019 CEV Volleyball European Championship qualification this time. Gjorgiev is the overall top scorer of the competition with 173 points.
•    F.Y.R. of Macedonia are back in the race for a spot at the 2019 CEV Volleyball European Championship Finals as they take back the second place in Pool B with a record of two wins and two losses.

Samuel Ehrat, team captain of Switzerland: “At the moment, we just feel disappointed. Nevertheless, it was a great game with a sensational comeback by our side. We were even able to dominate the third set to turn tables. However, in the end, we lost the game due to a bad start into the tiebreak; that is just a pity. In my opinion, we wanted this win just too much. This caused a lack of concentration. We are still a young team without any professionals. However, we have proved everybody that we can compete with Europe’s top sides like the Former Y.R. of Macedonia. Now we want to come back stronger for the remaining two games in January.”

Mario Motta, coach of Switzerland: “Despite the loss, we can be satisfied with a strong performance against a strong European team. We proved that we could play at eye-level with the top nations of the continent. In my opinion, this is an important step for Volleyball in Switzerland. We struggled in the beginning of the game, as we were not able to convert our side-out. I think our comeback was also due to a better performance in our own side-out game. I am very proud of my team. Now we have to keep working hard for the remaining games in January.”

Nikola Gjorgiev, captain of F.Y.R. of Macedonia: “We are exhausted, but happy. It is the third game we were leading 2-0 and still had to play another five-setter. However, we played with our hearts. I think we must work harder mentally to make sure we do not give away games that easily. However, I think this Pool F is very tough. Our fans built up an amazing atmosphere here in Schönenwerd. It felt like a home game. They gave us the fire to win the fifth set. We have always missed out on big events like the CEV Volleyball European Championship just due to one point or even closer. Now we want to finally make it to Europe’s prime event.”

Pool G

Luxembourg vs. Sweden 3-2 (23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-10)

•    In the first set, until the score of 15-15, there was a constant change in the leadership, as nobody could seriously settle down the set, before Sweden took the advantage at 20-17. Luxembourg equalised with a prompt reaction to 21-21, before leaving again the next three points to Sweden. The hosts managed to fight off two set balls before Sweden finally took the set (25-23) due to a service fault of Luxembourg.
•    After a rather promising start in the second set, Luxembourg coach Dieter Scholl had nevertheless to take already his first time-out at the score of 3-6 to break the run of the Vikings, but his team was not able to do so. At 12-16, he took his second time-out, which brought some effect, but the hosts had problems in reception and Sweden eventually won the second set as well (25-19).

•    Sweden immediately took a clear advantage in the third set leading 7-2, before Luxembourg showed a strong reaction and came back at the score of 14-13, forcing coach Johan Isacsson to take his first timeout. Sensing their chance, the Red Lions improved the level of their game. The braveness of the fighting Lions around Kamil Rychlicki produced a 25-20 set win for the hosts.
•    The fourth set was close until the score of 6-6, before Luxembourg brought Sweden ahead due to a couple of unforced mistakes (9-12). A few strong serves of Rychlicki brought the Swedish reception into difficulties and the Red Lions equalised at 13-13. The first lead of Luxembourg in this set came at 15-14 with a brave attack of middle blocker Chris Zuidberg; a block out followed by an attack on the line by Mateja Gajin made Isacsson react with a substitution. Luxembourg put the Swedish team under pressure and a couple of strong blocks by Jan Lux brought the deserved set win for Luxembourg in the fourth set (25-22).
•    With the necessary self-confidence, the Red Lions started well into the fifth set with the first timeout of Sweden coming at the score of 5-2. After the change of sides at 8-6 due to a tip of setter Gilles Braas, the players of the Grand Duchy forced the Swedish team into its second timeout at the score of 10-6. Luxembourg was not willing anymore to give away another tiebreak and finished the set at the score of 15-10 much to the delight of a raucous home crowd.
•    Kamil Rychlicki of Luxembourg was the leading scorer of the match with 21 points. Middle blocker Jan Lux of Luxembourg had six kill blocks in the match. 

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