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17/07/2019 23:00
Russia, Turkey and Italy punch early tickets to #EuroVolleyU16W semis
2019 CEV U16 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Trieste/Zagreb, Italy/Croatia, July 17, 2019. While Romania won their first match in the 2019 edition of #EuroVolleyU16W, with Turkey, Russia and Italy, three teams are already set for the semi-finals coming up later this week in Trieste. Turkey and Italy will clash on Thursday to determine who finishes on top of Pool II, while Russia will be trying to complete a clean sweep of their matches in Pool I in Zagreb.

All the action from Day 4:

Pool I in Zagreb

Slovenia vs. France 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 25-20)

Slovenia needed another win badly to stay in contention for the semifinals, after impressing with a heroic comeback against Croatia on Day 3. Starting the match against the Bleues with a 6-0 streak, they managed to take the first set, despite both teams struggled with a lot of unforced errors. The young Frenchwomen regrouped and added more precision to their serve game to level the score. However, Slovenia took the third set by using the advantage of a weaker reception by France, who didn’t find an appropriate answer to the strong Slovenia’s attacking combinations. They kept spirits and self-confidence high, right into the fourth set, and even though France didn’t capitulate, Slovenia managed to take home the match. Outside spiker Lilou Ratahiry from France contributed 19 but this wasn’t enough to claim victory, while Taja Gradišnik Klanjšček
from Slovenia had 12 winning spikes.

Julija Grubišič Čabo, captain of Slovenia: “One more match is behind us and I’d say, this was one of our best games so far. We showed, how good we can play. We showed great team spirit, and this was our advantage. If we are able to repeat a performance like this, we should be able to beat Finland tomorrow too.”

Germany vs. Croatia 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 27-25)

After a heart-breaking defeat vs. Slovenia on Day 3, the local favourites had to face Germany, who also suffered from a tough loss to Russia before the rest day. Croatia started well, leading 3-0, but lost focus during the end of set one. The German youngsters took the initiative into the next set, and managed to produce a ten-point difference. The third set was solid in Croatian hands, up to a 19-16 lead. Then a true nail-biter evolved in front of an impressive and loud home crowd, led by a German trio with Nikola Schmidt (12 points), Mia Kirchhoff (eight winning spikes) and Sophia Schefner (five aces). Point by point the Germans came back. And it was Leandra Negri who delivered the match ball (third German attempt) with a solid block, leaving Croatia behind with no more chance to reach the semi-finals.

Manuel Hartmann, coach of Germany: “As usual we didn’t start very good. But we managed to change our game, we played good, served good and made enough pressure to win the first set. The second set was one of our most consistent sets, without mistakes, with good reception and most important, with a lot of discipline in attack and block. Last set we had some issues with our serve, but in the end, with some luck and good decisions we won, so tomorrow we have one more match to make it to Trieste.”

Nikola Schmidt, top scorer of Team Germany: “I think we are a very strong team, which we showed today. We served good and most importantly, we fought back with good attacks and blocks.”

Russia vs. Finland 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-14)

Supported by around 40 fans, Finland showed a very brave team spirit vs the Russian favourites in the last match of the day. They celebrated every single point and showed smiling faces although the fixture was a one-way street. Russia started fiercely, with one foot already in the semi-finals in Trieste, taking a 5-0 lead in only a couple of minutes. Finland recovered with only a little deficit, but never enough to claim a set win. The second set had a close start but at the end it was even a much clearer win. In the third and final set, Russia’s Daria Zamanskaia finished the match with a strong attack. Overall it was again captain Arina Fedorovtseva and her 17 points which impressed the audience a lot.

Alexander Karikov, head coach of Russia: “I am glad we won. We gave other players, who didn’t play very often, a chance on the court. We had some problems with Finland’s strong serve, which caused our players to act nervously and we showed a bad performance in reception. So now we know what we have to work on.”

Pool II in Trieste

Romania vs. The Netherlands 3-2 (20-25, 25-12, 11-25, 25-22, 15-12)

Check out the points scored: after 101 minutes this fixture ended 96:96 – what a tight and exciting match!
There was a great start for the young Oranjes, who worked out a 9-2 lead but Romania did not give up and tied the set at 15-15 before the Dutchies closed it with a good performance in all fundamentals at 25-20.
The Netherlands made a way too many unforced errors in the second set, while Team Romania collected point after point.  The Romanian setter Iarina-Luana Axinte, with great determination, led her team to an impressive 25-12 set win.
History repeated itself in the third set, just with reversed sides. This time the Dutch team took advantage of a struggling opponent. The Romanians had to swallow a 11-25 defeat, with Dutch player Dagmar Mourits throwing in a great performance in the front row. During a well-balanced fourth set, it was the Romanians who managed to win and bring the match into a tie-break. The crucial set was won by Romania, leading to a nice celebration dance for winning not only the first sets during the #EuroVolleyU16W, but also the first match.