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07/01/2020 23:59
Germans, Slovenians on to Berlin semis
CEV Tokyo Volleyball European Qualification 2020 - Men

Berlin, Germany, January 6, 2020.  Germany and Slovenia became the first two teams to set foot on the semifinals of Europe’s men’s continental Olympic qualification tournament in Berlin, after Tuesday’s two five-setters in Pool A, where Belgium overpowered Czech Republic with an incredible 41-point contribution from Jolan Cox, and Slovenia outplayed Germany, polarised the standings ahead of the last match on Wednesday. Bulgaria are well on track towards the single available Tokyo 2020 ticket after shutting out the Netherlands for their second win in Pool B, but they still need to win at least two sets against European champions Serbia in a crucial game on Wednesday to advance to the last four.

Pool B: Bulgaria vs. The Netherlands 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-15)

Bulgaria registered their second victory in Pool B, but together with both France and Serbia, on a 1-1 win-loss record each, are still racing for the top two spots in the final pool standings. The Lions mastered a speedy 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-15) shutout of the Netherlands to leave the opponents without a shot at moving forward. Martin Atanasov aced three times within a series of six points that flipped the score from 7-8 to 13-8 Bulgaria’s way in the first set. The Lions continued to dominate to claim the set at 25-19. Riding the momentum, Bulgaria was in complete control on all accounts and made the second set a one-sided affair that ended at an emphatic 25-16. Setter Georgi Seganov nicely distributed the balls among all Bulgarian spikers in the third set and they did not let him down. The southern European squad’s superiority on the court was even better expressed in the final score – 25-15. Dutch opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz was the best scorer of the match with 15 points, while his counterpart Tsvetan Sokolov piled up 13 for the winning side.

Pool A: Belgium vs. Czech Republic 3-2 (21-25, 28-26, 25-20, 22-25, 19-17)

Germany became the first team to secure a spot in the semifinals, after Belgium defeated Czech Republic in five sets – 3-2 (21-25, 28-26, 25-20, 22-25, 19-17) – with captain Sam Deroo and main setter Stijn D’Hulst resting, while Jolan Cox hammered out a fantastic 41 points, including five aces. Their team finished the tournament on a 1-2 win-loss record out of contention for the semis.

The Czech serving made the difference in the first set, contributing as many as four aces towards the 25-21 win, shaped up with an off-the-block spike by Lukas Vasina for the winning point. The Belgians recovered from a six-point gap, which the Czechs maintained for a while during the second set, to prompt an exciting epilogue. With Jolan Cox spearheading the offence, Belgium caught up at 20-20 and pushed the set deep into overtime. Wout D’Heer brought the set to an end with an ace for 28-26. In the third set the lead changed hands several times. After 20-20, however, the Belgians were unstoppable. On D’Heer’s serving, they scored five in a row, crowned by a mega rally, in which they defended a number of powerful Czech attacks before Kevin Klinkenberg finished it off with a kill block for 25-20. In the money time of a very tight fourth set, Czech Republic proved more focused and levelled the match after 25-22. The fierce battle continued in the tie-breaker. The Czechs recovered from a six-point deficit to take a 13-11 lead, but the Belgians denied all four of their match points before dramatically stepping ahead again with Tomas Rousseaux spiking for the 19-17 close.

Pool A: Germany vs. Slovenia 2-3 (34-32, 20-25, 25-19, 21-25, 12-15)

Slovenia battled it out for a 3-2 (32-34, 25-20, 19-25, 25-21, 15-12) victory over Germany to join the home side into the semifinals of the tournament. The two teams are unreachable in the top two positions of the Pool A standings.

Without injured György Grozer in the starting line-up, the Germans stormed into the match on a 7-1 run, decorated with two aces by Christian Fromm, but the Slovenians stepped up their blocking efforts to gradually catch up at 20-20 and prompt an epic conclusion. They were the first to reach set point, but it was only one of many. Slovenia missed out on a total of seven opportunities to win the set. Germany did it on their third set point off of a mishit by Toncek Stern for 34-32. It was Stern again who closed the second set, but this time in favour of his own team with a successful back-row hit for 25-20, after Slovenia had dominated the second half of the set led by some great work from their setter Dejan Vincic. With substitute setter Jan Zimmermann doing a fabulous job on the court in the third set, the home side was well in control and cruised to a 25-19 win, shaped up with a blistering ace by Ruben Schott. With many of the German starters now off the court, Slovenia took control of the next two sets. With Klemen Cebulj and Toncek Stern spearheading their offence, they pushed on to turn things around to a 3-2 win after 25-21 and 15-12. Cebulj was the best scorer of the match with 25 points, including four aces, to his name.

For further information, visit the official event website

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