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11/06/2019 20:00
Croatia and Belarus set sights on fifth straight win in Golden #EuroLeagueW
CEV Volleyball European Golden League 2019

Luxembourg, June 11, 2019. Croatia and Belarus will be trying to secure a fifth straight victory in the pool stage of the CEV Women’s Volleyball European Golden League 2019 when action resumes on Wednesday with a full set of six matches across three groups. Croatia travel to France while Belarus play Finland – also away from home – in an effort to cement their leadership at the top of Pool B and C, respectively. Three teams are fighting for the top spot in Pool A with Slovakia playing a much-anticipated ‘derby’ with their neighbours from Czech Republic while Ukraine host the still winless Swedish team. Make sure you follow all of the action through the CEV’s very own OTT platform, EuroVolleyTV.

Pool A

Slovakia vs. Czech Republic

•    Both teams are fighting for a spot in the Final Four - Czech Republic (with a 2-2 win-loss record) sit in third place in the pool, while Slovakia have a better record (3-1) after celebrating three victories in a row.
•    Slovakia claimed a 3-2 away victory over the Czech Republic two weeks ago in Brno.
•    The Slovak women’s national team will play in the city of Humenne for the first time in their history.

Marco Fenoglio, head coach of Slovakia: “After the last results everything is still open in this group. Our goal is to qualify for the Finals. Now we play two home games and we want to fight for two victories.”  

Karin Palgutova, player of Slovakia: “The only way to claim another win over Czech Republic is to play as a team and fight for every point. We have to play with courage and without making simple errors.”

Ukraine vs. Sweden

•    Ukraine lead the way in Pool A with a record of three wins and one loss this far.
•    Ukraine are trying to repeat their startling performance from the 2017 edition when they won a historic European League gold medal.
•    Sweden, the winners of last year’s Silver League, are fighting against relegation. They are yet to win a match and just claimed their first set on Saturday when hosting Slovakia in Umeå.  
•    Sweden are missing their superstar Isabelle Haak, who is due to play for VakifBank ISTANBUL in the 2019/2020 season, due to injury.

Pool B

Austria vs. Hungary

•    The women’s national team of Austria will face EuroVolley co-hosts Hungary in Graz on Wednesday, hoping to reach the second place in Pool B. The hosts expect many fans to come to the Raiffeisen Sportpark.
•    Austria and Hungary have a 2-2 win-loss record. Austria’s squad, runners-up of the 2018 Silver League, and the three-time EuroVolley medal winners and number 13 in the current CEV ranking know each other very well.
•    In the previous round, Austria claimed a home victory over France, whilst Hungary lost to pool leaders Croatia in Kaposvar.
•    The best scorer of these teams after the first four matches are Katharina Holzer (Austria) and Gréta Szakmary (Hungary) with 71 and 50 points, respectively.

Dana Schmit, player of Austria: “We achieved more than we expected during our first season in the European Golden League. We will try to give our very best one more time on home soil. I am confident that this is going to be another good match.”

Svetlana Ilic, head coach of Team Austria: “Our passion and ambition drove us to two sensational victories over France. In my three years with the team, we have made huge steps forward. We should be very proud of ourselves. Now we are looking forward to playing Hungary. I hope that our performance will be at least at the level of the game against France on Sunday. We will do everything to show a good game to our supporters.”

France vs. Croatia

•    France host pool leaders Croatia in the last home match they contest in this year’s European League.
•    Last year, France beat Croatia 3-1 in the last match of the pool phase, courtesy of 32 points scored by Héléna Cazaute. Cazaute, however, will not play this time, as she is not a member of the roster for the second half of the League Round.
•    The matchup with Croatia is a tough task for the French team; their coach Emile Rousseaux is working with a group of young players and is already setting his sights on developing the team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
•    Croatia count on an international star player such as Samanta Fabris, who scored 26 points last weekend against Hungary and is a double Italian national champion and Champions League silver medal winner with Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO.

“Our goal for the remainder of the competition is to win again and to keep our place in the Golden League. We will be fighting for this up until the last round of play,” said the Manager of Les Bleues, Emmanuel Fouchet.

Pool C

Spain vs. Azerbaijan

•    Valladolid and more specifically Huerta del Rey sports hall are hosting the second straight home match of the Spanish women’s national team in Pool C. Last weekend, Spain beat Finland 3-1 at the same venue.
•    Spain will fight until the last ball touches the floor – just as they did last Saturday. This is the only way for the Leonas del Vóley to stay in contention for a spot in the Final Four.
•    On the other side of the net, Azerbaijan will be putting up a fight as well – as they are yet to celebrate their first victory in the competition.
•    The key to success for Spain will be to serve well, focus on their own game and execute the plan agreed with the coaching staff.
•    Ana Escamilla of Spain is the best scorer in the Golden League this far with a tally of 76 points.

Patricia Llabrés, player of Spain: “The key will be to serve strong and we must organise ourselves well in block and defence. They were the keys to success when we won in Azerbaijan.”

Aina Berbel, player of Spain: “We are motivated for the match with Azerbaijan after we won against Finland last Saturday. We need the support of our fans again and we must play hard and show that we deserve to be at the Final Four.”

Giovanni Caprara, head coach of Azerbaijan: “It is very important for us as a group to grow and improve with every match. We started to train only three weeks ago and so for now we are satisfied about our job. Of course, we will have another important test with Spain. We have to do a good job especially in reception and we have to play without making too many mistakes. Moreover, we have to play better in attack than we did in the last three matches in the pool.”

Finland vs. Belarus

•    Finland and Belarus have played 12 times against each other, recording six wins apiece.
•    Belarus won their home match in Minsk against Finland 3-0 and they are leading Pool C with no losses in four matches. Finland have one win against Azerbaijan.
•    Finland has been in the Finals of the European League two times in a row, but now it seems difficult to make it for the third time.

Tapio Kangasniemi, head coach of Finland: “There are strong teams in this pool. Belarus has very good outside spikers, who have done a very good job in their four previous matches. We have played very well in some parts of all our matches, but we must find more stability in the last two games.”

Saara Esko, player of Finland: “We have prepared good tactics against Belarus, which is a very physical team and hits the ball hard. If we can play in the same way as we have done in the trainings, we can win this match.”

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