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14/08/2015 21:44
Slovenia win European League title!
2015 CEV Volleyball European League - Men

Walbrzych, Poland, August 14, 2015. Slovenia claimed the gold medal of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European League - Men in a thrilling Final Four celebrated in the Polish city of Walbrzych, thus brilliantly topping a competition full of surprises and memorable moments. In the big final, Andrea Giani’s men defeated the Former Y.R. of Macedonia 3:0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-17) and sailed to their first major title in international competitions, thereby getting also the right to join the 2016 edition of the FIVB Volleyball World League. Meanwhile, in the clash for the third position, hosts Poland beat Estonia 3:0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-20) in a convincing three-setter victory and earned the bronze medal.   

Click here for more information, including statistics, a comprehensive picture gallery and competition programme.   

Gold medal match

Slovenia vs Former Y.R. of Macedonia 3:0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-17) 

 
In a final starring two teams searching to inaugurate their tallies of honours, the squads of Slovenia and the Former Y.R. of Macedonia put a golden finishing touch to a thrilling 2015 edition of the CEV Volleyball European League – Men. Emotional and hard-fought actions featured in the sensational showdown of the closing clash held in Walbrzych. The Final crowned Slovenia as new champions of the European League after Andrea Giani’s men sailed to the top position of the podium in a compelling three-setter triumph.  

The Macedonian side had unexpectedly cruised to the final match after upsetting front-runners Estonia in one of the big surprises of the competition. The Balkan side aimed at repeating its poise in the title-deciding match, as the players directed by Zarko Ristoski put passion to their actions. However, Slovenia managed to control their impetus in the first set by means of their powerful blocks (four in the first period) and the spikes by Mitja Gasparini and Tine Urnaut. The Macedonian endeavour in this period died in the hands of the Slovenian middle blockers, while Andrea Giani’s men took the lead of the match closing the period 25-21. 

A starting 6:2 signed by a powerful combination of blocks and attacks marked Slovenian path to victory in the second set. The Former Y.R. of Macedonia tried to recover the difference through the prevailing offensive actions finished by the best scorer and best spiker of the competition, Jovica Simovski. Nonetheless, Slovenia offered no room for a comeback and the excellence in scoring actions – with Mitja Gasparini, Klemen Cebulj and Jan Kozamernik contributing – sent Slovenia to an almost decisive 25-20. 

The hopeful Macedonian players continued adamant in their intentions of producing yet another surprise, but soon their wishes of one more tour de force were finished by the demonstration of power on the other side of the net. Led by a sensational Dejan Vincic, Slovenia showed a greater resilience in their quest to glory, as the Slovenian game director -who was awarded best setter and MVP of the competition - distributed the resources of his team with such brilliance that Slovenia acquired an early lead in the set (8:6, 16:10). This difference became insuperable for Macedonians, since a focussed Slovenian side paved the way to victory hindering their rivals' game with mighty serves and spikes. Slovenia was able to maintain their status of the only remaining undefeated team in the competition and confirmed their domination in the 2015 edition of the championship with a Golden and historic end of the tournament. A formidable back court spike closed the third period 25-17 and represented the convincing final 3:0.

With this compelling demonstration of powerful Volleyball, Slovenia was crowned as new owners of the CEV Volleyball European League – Men title, following Montenegro as the competition champion and achieving their greatest accomplishment in international events thus far. 



“The Former Y.R. of Macedonia is a good team and yesterday they played very well, but today we entered the court with a lot of focus, really wanting to win the match. We did exactly that. I want to congratulate all my players for the work they have done during the season. After some hard, hard work, we have reached our goal,” declared the coach of Slovenia, Andrea Giani. 

“I want to congratulate Slovenia for their victory. Before the match I was afraid of only one thing: their good serve. Unfortunately they had a good day and managed to serve well, so we had some problems in reception. It was difficult for us to play with a broken reception. We played a perfect tournament, we achieved our best result and I am proud of my players. I hope that in the future the results will be as good as they are now,” stated the coach of the Former Y.R. of Macedonia, Zarko Ristoski. 

One of the stars of the tournament was Slovenian player Dejan Vincic, who was awarded Best Setter and MVP of the competition. “I am very happy, this is a goal that we have chased for a long time. The individual awards came unexpected and I want to thank our coach for this result. The team has made real progress since he took over the squad, and we have a good chemistry with him. Now, this great lineup that we have will be able to stand its ground in the World League next year,” Vincic said.

Bronze medal match

Poland vs Estonia 3:0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-20)

The local heroes claimed the bronze medal of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European League – Men following a convincing and hard-fought victory over Estonia in the clash for the third position of the tournament. Poland brushed off the adversity of the defeat to Slovenia in the semi-finals and presented an effective level of performance to add the bronzed award to their ample tally of honours.               

Recovery was the main factor in the encounter between the two losing teams of the semi-finals. Despite the disappointment of the upset in front of their home crowd, Poland managed to put frustration behind and jumped into the court with the intention of closing the tournament with the joy of the bronze medal around their necks. The spikes by Szymon Romac put the local heroes on track to victory in a disputed first set. Estonia was forced to come from behind (8:7, 16:14) and the hosts used the support of the fans attending the event at the Hala Widowiskowo-Sportowa Aqua Zdroj to cut any attempts of a comeback. A spike by Adrian Buchowski sealed the final 25-22 for Poland.

With 1:0 in the scoreboard, Estonia aimed at recuperating the poise that drove them to sign an unbeaten record in the League Round. The initial improvement in the Estonian side forced a dispute for the leadership of the game in the second period. However, equality became permanent just until Poland managed to break the tie through their offensive power. The Estonians could not control the attacking variety established from the other side of the net, and Adrian Buchowski's spikes ultimately avoided the reaction of the visiting side with a 25-23 that put the local heroes en route to the bronze medal.

The weight of the 2:0 and the defeat in the semi-finals affected an Estonian side that seemed unable to offer alternatives to the Polish efficiency. A three-point advantage before the second technical time-out was all the window that the hosts needed to clear their way to the podium. Aleksander Sliwka’s offensive performance, as well as Jan Nowakowski’s contribution at the middle of the net sent Poland straight to finish the period 25-20, and the match 3:0, thus earning the bronze medal and the right to finish the 2015 edition of the tournament on the third place of the final podium.



“For me this game was an exact copy of yesterday’s match. We had moments when we got close and had the chance to turn it over but it was difficult for us because Poland was receiving good and attacking with no problems, so we could not find the right moves to turn this match around for us. These are two disappointing days but this is the game and yesterday and today there were two teams that were stronger than us. We have to keep our heads up and keep going,” said Estonian captain, Kert Toobal.

Meanwhile the coach of Estonia Gheorghe Cretu stated: “Today we saw that Poland was very well prepared. From the very beginning they were inside the game. The change in the first set brought more stability in reception to their game and more quality in attack. When you lose points in easy situations it is hard to stay on top of your game”.

“I want to congratulate Estonia for their attitude during the game, because the 3:0 score can be misleading. As a team we presented today a much better side of our game. We showed that we have the right skills. The loss in the semi-finals was not the end of tournament for us and we put a lot of heart in this match and I think the cheerful atmosphere that we kept really helped us,” commented Polish captain Szymon Romac. 

A joyful coach of Poland, Andrzej Kowal stated: “This bronze medal comes as a great reward after the month of hard work that we have had. We will be remembered for what we had to show in the last game. Today we played better in service, reception, attack and side-out, and compared to yesterday our game was more cheerful and yet much more aggressive. That helped us to be satisfied with the game and to keep fighting even when we lost a couple of points in a row.”

Final standing

1. Slovenia
2. Former Y.R. of Macedonia
3. Poland
4. Estonia

Dream Team of the tournament   

MVP: Dejan Vincic (SLO) 
Best Setter: Dejan Vincic (SLO)
Best Opposite: Jovica Simovski (MKD)
Best Middle Blocker: Jan Nowakowski (POL)
Second Best Middle Blocker: Ardo Kreek (EST)
Best Outside Spiker: Nikola Gjorgiev (MKD)
Second Best Outside Spiker: Klemen Cebulj (SLO)
Best Libero: Damian Wojtaszek (POL)
Fair Play Award: Team of the Former Y.R. of Macedonia

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