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02/06/2013 09:00
Czech Republic, Ukraine and Belarus step closer to the European Championship finals
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Lutsk, Ukraine - Craiova, Romania - Mogilev, Belarus, June 2, 2013.  Three countries are now one step closer to the finals of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women as they scored victories in the first leg of the 3rd qualification round.  Ukraine defeated visiting France by 3:1.  Belarus was even more convincing in front of its own supporters to shut out Slovakia, while the Czech Republic also managed a straight-set victory, but away at Romania.  The second leg will take place in Slovakia on June 6 and in France and the Czech Republic on June 8 with the three overall winners making their way to the continental championship in Germany and Switzerland.
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Ukraine vs. France 3:1 (25-23, 25-17, 24-26, 30-28)
Ukraine made the spectators on the stands of the Sporting Complex of Regional Sports School in Lutsk happy by claiming the victory in this 2-hour-long encounter with France.  Astrid Souply became the top scorer of the match with 21 points for the visiting team.  Iryna Trushkina and Nadiia Kodola contributed 15 points each to Ukraine’s success.
In the first set France took its chances with some risky serving that paid off with 5 aces, but Ukraine responded with stronger offense and blocking.  The score went up and down and the last time it was level was at 15-15.  Then the home team pushed hard to get to four consecutive set points at 24-20.  France saved the first three, but then Nadiia Kodola’s block against Helene Schleck closed the set at 25-23.  The second set was pretty straightforward.  Ukraine’s serve also started adding points to score while France made far too many mistakes to shape up the final 25-17.  After an early breakaway by Ukraine, France came back thanks to some tremendous serving efforts to maintain equilibrium through most of the third set.  The home team missed out on an opportunity to end the match at 24-23 and then two aces by Astrid Souply finished it off at 26-24 in France’s favor.  Although the Ukrainians were in the lead through most of the fourth set, they once again could not take advantage of the many match points, so it went deep into overtime.  Eventually Tetyana Kozlova spiked successfully for the final 30-28 to the great satisfaction of the crowd.
Romania vs. Czech Republic 0:3 (17-25, 19-25, 25-27)
The Czech Republic made a giant step towards qualification for the Final Round of the European Championship by achieving an away straight-set win over Romania.  Aneta Havlickova contributed 15 points to the winning tally of her team at Sala Polivalenta Oltenia in Craiova, while Denisa Adriana Rogojinaru was Romania’s most productive player with 11 points.
The first set started with the Czech Republic dominating on the court through excellent spikes by opposite Aneta Havlickova and middle blocker Michaela Monzoni that could not be stopped by the home team and by the first technical time-out the guests took the lead by 2 points.  Romania tried to come back in the match with good blocks by the middle blocker Nneka Onyejekwe, but the Czechs increased the distance to 6 points at the second technical time-out with incredible attacks by the wing spiker Helena Havelkova and with good reception by her teammates. Romania tried to stop the Czech offensive but nothing seemed to work out and the opponents closed the set at 25:17.
The story of the second set was similar. Romania seemed overwhelmed by the powerful spikes of Havlickova that left no chance to her opponents to manage a recovery. The Czech girls took control of the set and doubled the gap from 8-5 to 16-10 between the two technical time-outs.  Romania tried to balance the score through inspired blocks and spikes of middle blocker Alexandra Sobo, but everything was in vain. The amazing attacks by the middle blocker Ivana Plchotova made the day for the Czech girls who finished the set at 25-19.
The third set started with Czechs continuing in great shape and eager to close the match as quickly as possible.  Again Havlickova found the soft spots of Romania’s defense that was not playing at its best allowing that Czech team to lead at the first technical time-out by 8-6. But Romania retaliated through better reception and some excellent hits by wing spiker Denisa Rogojinaru that managed to turn the advantage around for 16-15 at the second technical time-out.  The home team seemed to be riding the high tide with excellent attacks by wing spiker Adina Salaoru that succeeded to pull out the team from numbness thus taking the lead of the set to 21-20.  But sensing the danger, the Czech Republic recovered easily from the one-point lag as Havlickova balanced the score at 21-21. Romania responded with well-placed spikes by relentless Salaoru and Rogojinaru that briefly dismantled the Czech reception. But the Havelkova and Havlickova took the matter in their own hands and put an end to it all at 27-25.
Belarus vs. Slovakia 3:0 (25-19, 25-10, 25-17)
The women’s national team of Belarus pleased the home crowd at the Olimpiets sports complex in Mogilev by claiming an impressive outright victory against Slovakia.  Anastasiya Harelik was responsible for 16 of Belarus’s points to become the best scorer of the match, while Solange Paula Pereira Soares and Jaroslava Pencova tallied 8 points each for Slovakia.
The game was spectacular as each team did its best to win the match. It began successfully for Belarus – 4-0, and Slovakia took its first time-out. Due to the serves of Soares the visitors were able to climb back from 1-7 to 4-7.  Anna Kalinouskaya and Marina Tumas spiked successfully to shape up a score of 16-12 at the second technical time-out.  Good serving by Simona Kosova helped Slovakia not fall further behind, but in the end two points in a row for Belarus finished the set at 25-19.  The second set also saw a great start for Belarus – 8-2 with aces by Anastasiya Harelik and Anzhelika Barisevich.  After that the same players were brilliant in blocking to help extend the gap even further – 16-7, 21-8 and 25-10.  In the third set Soares came back on the court and together with Yaroslava Pencova and substitute Tatiana Crkonova showed some effective performance.  At the first technical time-out, Belarus had only one point of advantage over Slovakia.  Soon after, the visiting team even managed to take the lead at 9-8.  Over the following several rallies, the match was intense as Belarus turned things back around and went up 18-16. After 19-17 the home team scored 6 points in a row to close the set at 25-17 and celebrate the victory in straight sets.
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