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02/10/2011 23:33
Serbia fly to first gold medal in history with unbelievable comeback
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Belgrade, Serbia, October 2, 2011. With an incredible comeback in the fourth set, host Serbia claimed gold at the 2011 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women. Two weeks after Serbia’s men team won gold at EuroVolley 2011 in Vienna, the Serbian ladies offered their home crowd Europe’s crown for the best national team. In a exciting five-setter in front of 9,000 thrilled fans, Serbia overpowered Germany 3-2 (16-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-20, 15-9).

Best scorers of the match were Margareta Anna Kozuch and Maren Brinker with twenty points each, while Brizitka Molnar booked 17 kills for Serbia.

The more than 9,000 noisy fans in SC “Pionir” sports hall in Belgrade didn’t impress the German ladies at the start of the gold medal match. The squad of head coach Giovanni Guidetti jumped out for an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout thanks to a Margareta Kozuch hammer down the line. The Germans unfolded a powerful game right from the beginning of the deciding match at the 2011 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women. On the other side, the hosts couldn’t find a way to overcome the German block-defense system and struggled in passing. Serbian head coach Zoran Terzic replaced starting setter Maja Ognjenovic with Ana Antonijevic, but it didn’t improve Serbia’s playing level. Jovana Brakocevic sent the ball out of bounds at 16-24 to offer Germany a first set ball. Kozuch didn’t hesitate to close the first set out one moment later with a burning winner from back row. Kozuch was the outstanding player in the first set with nine points.  

It seemed as Terzic had found the right words in the 3-minute break with his players being in a completely new mood in the beginning of the second set. As a consequence, Guidetti called his players off court at 2-6. It helped with the unbeaten Germans coming closer at 5-7. However, the hosts were the better team in the second set. Natasha Krsmanovic pushed her team forward with a remarkable one-leg spike on the right side. Serbia were still three points up at the second technical timeout. The home team kept the pace, serving and attacking much more powerful as in the first set. Brakocevic brought up set point at 24-19, and a German net touch leveled the match 1-1 after two spectacular sets. The German service reception dropped from 69% to 36%, while Serbia improved their blocks from one to four kills in the second set.

However, the German ladies regained momentum at the start of the third set. Christiane Fürst served for a 9-4 lead. On the other side, Serbia couldn’t live up to their success in the second set at this stage of the contest. Nevertheless, the Serbs were far away from giving up. Brakocevic came up with an astonishing series of serves to level the score at 9-9. It was a cat-and-mouse game now with both teams playing at their best. Never-ending rallies took turns with breath-taking combinations at the net. Fürst led Germany to a 16-15 lead at the second technical break. Brizitka Molnar sent the Mikasa some centimeters out of bounds at 19-21, and Jelena Nikolic committed another spiking mistake to open the gap to three points at 22-19. This was enough for Germany to end the third set in their favor, 25-19.

Things didn’t change in the beginning of the fourth set. At 0-6, Terzic had already used his two timeouts. Germany led 8-3 at the first technical break, before Serbia came closer at 6-10. Sanja Malagurski came in for Brakocevic on Serbia’s side. It seemed to help as the hosts reduced the gap to one point at 10-11. At the second technical timeout, Germany was still up by two points, 16-14. Giovanni Guidetti called his ladies off court at 18-17 to calm down the emotions and giving new instructions. Nikolic stopped Corina Ssuschke-Voigt at 19-18 and Malagurski added a winner at 20-18 to turn the tables in the fourth set. This was too much for Germany who completely lost focus. Serbia scored seven consecutive points until 24-18, before Krsmanovic closed the set out 25-20.

The unbelievable comeback of the Serbian squad in the fourth set transformed the SC “Pionir” sports hall into a celebration palace. The more than 9’000 fans propelled the home squad to maximum power. Maren Brinker leveled the deciding set at 4-4 with a blistering winner from the left, but three consecutive points gave Serbia a well-deserved 7-4 lead. At changeover, the hosts still led by three points, 8-5. This was enough to pull through. Germany gave up resistance, finding no way to parry the flawless Serbian game. Nikolic brought up match ball at 14-8. Kozuch saved one, but Anne Matthes’ serve was too short to offer Serbia their first gold medal in history of Women’s European Championships.

Serbia head coach Zoran Terzic: “First, I would like to thank everyone who helped us getting here, but I’m sure I won’t remember all of them. Then I would like to congratulate my amazing team. They made dreams become true this year and they confirmed it tonight. I’m more than satisfied with winning this gold medal, adding it to the men’s gold medal. This fact shows how volleyball in Serbia is growing.”

Serbia captain Jelena Nikolic: “This match was the final I dreamt of, and I think we both deserved to be here. I thank my girls, since we produced an amazing show tonight. Some people had some doubts about our young team, but we proved them that with strong us motivation and will everything is possible. Thank you for believing in us and helping us to achieve what we have achieved tonight.”

Germany head coach Giovanni Guidetti: “I want to congratulate the Serbian team, they deserved to win tonight. I especially want to congratulate my colleague Zoran and Jelena for their superb work tonight. At the end of the match, we couldn’t find a way to overcome the excellent Serbian block. On the other hand, it’s a great honor to be coach of my team. We are proud to have won the silver medal; it gives us the ticket for the FIVB World Cup and better chances for the qualification for Olympics. I want to thank again my team and my staff, I’m very proud of them; they make my work so easy.”

Germany captain Anna Margareta Kozuch: “Compliments to the Serbian team. This was an amazing final; actually, the most beautiful final I could ever imagine. I think there was no team who wanted to give up during this championship. I have to say that we played great as a team and I am more than proud of us. Thank you very much.” 

Final standings

1. Serbia*
2. Germany*
3. Turkey
4. Italy
5. Poland
6. Russia

7. The Netherlands
8. The Czech Republic
9. Azerbaijan
10. France
11. Spain
12. Romania
13. Croatia
14. Bulgaria
15. Ukraine
16. Israel

* Qualified for the 2011 FIVB Women’s World Cup in Japan

In bold the teams already pre-qualified for the final round of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women in Germany and Switzerland

Individual Awards

Most Valuable Player: Jovana Brakocevic (SRB)
Best Scorer: Neslihan Darnel (TUR)
Best Spiker: Margareta Anna Kozuch (GER)
Best Server: Bahar Toksoy (TUR)
Best Blocker: Christiane Fürst (GER)
Best Receiver: Angelina Grün (GER)
Best Libero: Suzana Cebic (SRB)
Best Setter: Maja Ognjenovic (SRB)

News nr. 1193 of 1260
18/10/2011 23:07:20
Memorable debut for ASSE-LENNIK with 3:2 win over Remat ZALAU
02/10/2011 17:31:15
Turkey beat Italy in thrilling five-setter to take bronze
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