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24/08/2014 22:00
Serbia round off golden run at Women’s U19 Euro Champs
2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women

Tartu, Estonia, August 24, 2014. In the presence of CEV President André Meyer and 500 thrilled spectators, Serbia completed their run from the Preliminary Round to top of the podium when they defeated Slovenia in an exciting five-setter 25-23, 17-25, 24-26, 25-17, 15-12 in the 2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women gold medal match in Tartu’s A. Le Coq Sports Hall on Sunday. The promising Serbian talents cruised to their seventh consecutive win here in Estonia. Serbia’s Tijana Boskovic topped the scorers with 38 (!) points while Nika Markovic contributed 19 kills for Slovenia.

Click here for a comprehensive picture gallery of the final weekend.

Serbia v Slovenia 3:2 (25-23, 17-25, 24-26, 25-17, 15-12)

Serbia showed Slovenia the power of their offense early in the opening set, scoring five consecutive points from 7-7 to 12-7. Opposite Tijana Boskovic and outside hitter Bojana Milenkovic were in an excellent mood. They fired both from the left and from the right side to give the Slovenian blockers a hard time. Serbia stretched the gap to six points at 15-9 but the young Slovenian talents quickly answered with a service winner and two good offensive combinations. Boskovic hammered Serbia 16-12 in front at the second technical break. Lana Scuka fought back with a blistering spike from the left side and Nika Markovic helped her side to bring level at 17-17. There was nothing to separate the two teams at that moment of the match. Serbia regained momentum at 20-20 and kept the upper hand until 24-22. Katja Mihevc blocked Sara Lozo to reduce the gap to one point at 24-23 before Boskovic found another gap in the Slovenian defense to offer Serbia a hard-earned 1:0 set lead.
The young Slovenians were not particularly shocked as they quickly bounced back early in the second set. The team of head coach Joze Casar moved into a 13-9 and 14-11 lead before the Serbians recovered with three consecutive points to draw level at 14-14 after a spectacular block from Sara Vucicevic on Nika Markovic. However, it was not good enough. Katja Mihalinec served seven (!) times in a row and Serbia’s nerves started to show with several imprecise service reception. At 24-17 for Slovenia, Boskovic hammered the Mikasa wide to end Serbia’s perfect run in the tournament. After two sets, Serbia had committed 24 errors, Slovenia only ten.
It was still a head-to-head race in the third set. Markovic and Milenkovic exchanged good spikes and when Serbia fell 11-14 down, Marijana Boricic called his players off court. It did not help as Markovic fired another missile in Serbia’s court and Slovenia led by four points at the second technical break. Slovenia continued their run until 22-18 but saw their opponents coming back strongly at 22-21. Serbia regained momentum with Boskovic on fire and had a set point at 24-23. However, the Slovenians kept calm. Lana Scuka scored three times in a row to turn the tables again and to make it 26-24 and 2:1 for Slovenia.
Serbia’s offense delivered several missiles in the early part of the fourth set but there was still little to choose between the two teams. A three-point margin came at 16-13 after sloppy defence by Slovenia and a successful hit by Serbian setter Aleksandra Cirovic. The Slovenians tried to take more risk from the service line to slow down Serbia’s offense but the young Serbian talents had finally adapted their game plan to the new situation. Serbia’s Jovana Kocic concluded the fourth set at 25-17 with an ace to move the exciting match in the fifth and deciding set.
Serbia were helped by inexact Slovenian passing early in the fifth set, while Boskovic added to her scoring total with more big hits, putting the Serbians two points ahead at the changeover. Anita Sobocan came up with a good hit and Mihalinec added a service winner, but Serbia responded with a fast ball through the middle. Boskovic sent down another two rockets to make the score 11-9, forcing Joze Casar to call his first timeout. Boskovic continued her bombing to stretch Serbia’s lead to three points at 13-10. A block by Scuka on Boskovic brought the Slovenians back to 13-12. However, it was already too late. Scuka sent the ball wide to hand over the set 15-12 and the match 3:2 to Serbia.
Serbia head coach Marijana Boricic: “I am so proud of my girls. They were nervous. Slovenia displayed excellent serving and defense. I tried to tell them to focus again on our game, to play disciplined. We experienced some problems in reception but showed our power with an excellent offense.”
Slovenia head coach Joze Casar: “Congratulations to Serbia, the played very well. But we will meet again. Few mistakes in the fifth set cost us the victory. However, I am very proud of my team.”
Serbia captain Tijana Boskovic: “There are no words to describe our feelings. It is Serbia’s first gold medal in junior competitions. We stayed calm after Slovenia’s 2:1 lead as we trusted in our strength. We always believed in our power.”
Slovenia captain Eva Mori: “Serbia was the better team tonight. They deserve the victory. Unfortunately we did not manage to start the fifth and deciding set in the best way. The pressure increased at that moment of the match. Nevertheless, we are very proud of us.”

Individual Awards:

Best Spiker: Pelin Aroguz (Turkey)
Best Blocker: Anastasia Barchuk (Russia)
Best Server: Sara Lozo (Serbia)
Best Libero: Maja Pahor (Slovenia)
Best Receiver: Bojana Milenkovic (Serbia)
Best Setter: Eva Mori (Slovenia)
Best Scorer: Anthi Vasilantonaki (Greece)
Most Valuable Player: Tijana Boskovic (Serbia)

Final Ranking:

1. Serbia
2. Slovenia
3. Turkey

4. Greece
5. Bulgaria
6. Czech Republic
7. Russia
8. Belgium
9. Italy
10. The Netherlands
11. Finland
12. Estonia

One week before the men’s U20 national teams will battle for medals in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Estonia and Finland were in the spot light for the prominent CEV event at Tartu’s A. Le Coq Sports Hall that hosted Pool I and Tampere’s Exhibition and Sports Centre featuring Pool II. A total of 38 matches were played during the tournament, running from August 16-24, 2014.

Picture: Serbia completed their run from the Preliminary Round to top of the podium on Sunday by beating Slovenia 3:2 in an exciting volleyball thriller in Tartu, Estonia.

Click here for more info on the Final Round of the 2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women.

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