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13/07/2019 23:00
Italy, Turkey and Germany shine on opening day of #EuroVolleyU16W
2019 CEV U16 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Trieste/Zagreb, Italy/Croatia, July 13, 2019. The second edition of #EuroVolleyU16W started on Saturday in Trieste and Zagreb with a full set of six matches. Russia, France and Germany were the winners of the Pool I fixtures in Zagreb even though they did so in different ways. Russia dropped a set against Slovenia, while France came back from 1-2 to edge hosts Croatia at the tiebreak and Germany swept aside Finland in three sets only. Italy and Turkey looked dominant in Pool II in Trieste as they routed Romania and Serbia in three sets, while the Netherlands claimed the ‘derby’ with Belgium 3-1. The competition continues on Sunday with another six matches across the two pools.

Pool I in Zagreb

Slovenia vs. Russia 1-3 (25-21, 14-25, 14-25, 19-25)

In the opening match of #EuroVolleyU16W in Zagreb, Slovenia started strong against the favourites from Russia, winning the first set 25-21. After recording such a shocking start, the Russian girls took the advantage with their strong block, equalising the match (25-14). Russia dominated the third set as well and their strong presence at the net proved to be the turning point as they claimed the fourth set quite comfortably too.  

Alexander Karikov, head coach of Russia, stated: “We are not satisfied with the result, but the most important thing is that we won. This is only our second official match, so we need to practice a lot to achieve even better results.”

Arina Fedorovtseva, captain of Russia: “Each girl in the team wants to win every match, but for that we need to practice more, and I am sure we will get better from match to match.”

Živa Cof, head coach of Slovenia: “We played our game in the first set, but when we realised we could win, panic came, and a strong team like Russia knew how to punish our mistakes.”

Julija Grubišić-Čabo, captain of Slovenia: “The match was really good, as both teams showed their qualities, but one team had to win. This loss will not shake us; confidence is the key in our team, so I know we will show our best in the upcoming matches.”

Croatia vs. France 2-3 (7-25, 25-22, 25-20, 23-25, 12-15)

France caught a terrific start to the match, with Croatia scoring only seven points in the first set. In the second set, after living such a shock, the hosts regrouped and sealed a 25-22 win. The fight continued, with both teams not allowing a decisive break, but Croatia managed to overturn the match in their favour, taking the third set 25-20. France continued to push in the fourth set, rewarding themselves with a tight 25-23 close. The final, fifth set, despite the cheerful home crowd, went to France, 15-12. Maeva Schalk from France recorded 19 points, while Mara Štiglić was the best player for hosts Croatia with 15 points.

Miodrag Stojaković, head coach of Croatia: “This was the first official match of this team, and we played one tough game from a psychological standpoint. After the shock we lived in the first set, we managed to regroup and control most of the match, but we made a few mistakes in the fourth set, and France knew how to punish us. They opened the fifth set much better than us; they kept their advantage and won deservedly.”  

Dorja Sulić, captain of Croatia: “We started #EuroVolleyU16W against a tough opponent a little bit nervously, but we fought our way to claim the second and third sets. We lacked a little bit of luck to win, but we will give our best to win the remaining matches.”

Germany vs. Finland 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-18)

The final match in Pool I proved to be an interesting one, as Germany and Finland battled even from the start. Despite the close start to the match, Germany eventually swept three sets by the same score and even came back from a 0-4 deficit in the third set. Celine Jebens top scored for the Germans with 15 points.

Manuel Hartmann, head coach of Germany: “We are happy that we won our first game in three sets. We made a few mistakes, and we had many troubles in the beginning of each set, but at the end, I am very proud of the girls. They stayed calm and waited for the right chances to turn every set to their advantage. It is a very good start for us, and I hope that we can carry this momentum on to the remaining matches.”

Celine Jebens, player of Germany: “We were nervous in the beginning, but we started to focus and everybody started to be louder. We really came together as a team, and everyone did their job right. We put a lot of pressure with our service and blocked a lot of balls, which helped us win so comfortably.”

Pool II in Trieste

Turkey vs. Serbia 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-16)

Turkey claimed a comprehensive victory over Serbia to get Pool II underway in Trieste. After a close start, Pelin Eroktay of Turkey went to serve and she managed to contribute to a landslide 13-4 Turkish advantage. The Serbian players tried to recover but the block of Turkey worked well, with Dalia Wilson helping move the score to 17-7. The first set finished 25-14 in Turkey’s favour. The second set followed the same plot, with Turkey cruising to a 25-18 win. The third set, despite the many substitutions made by the Turkish coach, continued pretty much in the same way and Turkey eventually sealed a 3-0 victory. Özlem Sahin and Pelin Eroktay were the eventual top scorers with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Rasit Berk Inanc, coach of Turkey: “First of all, I think that at this age it is important to give a lot of tips to the players. I am very happy about the victory and the way we played the match. The best of Europe’s players is here so we want to show our best skills, make it through the pool and after that, think about the finals.”

The Netherlands vs. Belgium 3-1 (25-23, 17-25, 25-22, 25-19)

The match started with many service mistakes and great digs from Belgium. After the score remained close almost from start to end, the Netherlands edged ahead at 21-19 but Belgium fought back to 23-23. However, the young Oranjes eventually claimed the first set 25-23. Belgium opened a 15-10 gap in the second set to cruise to a 25-17 win. The early stages of the third set were very close as well, before the Netherlands broke away with the help of Tess Leemreize (19-16). Belgium drew level at 20-20 but the Netherlands closed the set in their favour at 25-22. The fourth set began with the same trend, with the two teams siding out up to 18-all, before middle blocker Marije ten Brinke of the Netherlands signed three monster blocks, closing the set 25-19.