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22/08/2018 19:44
Leg 3 of #EuroVolleyM Qualification serves up 12 great matches
2019 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men

Luxembourg, August 22, 2018.  As we reached the midway point in the qualification round for the 2019 CEV Volleyball European Championship the seven men's pools have started to take shape.  In the Pools A and B where there are only three teams Romania and Estonia seem to have the edge both recording two wins in as many matches they have contested so far.  In Pools C to G Portugal, Belarus, Ukraine and Greece are the only teams to remain undefeated this far.  Remember you can watch all of the action back on or check out our social media channels or #EuroVolleyM.

Pool A

Finland vs. Romania 2-3 (18-25, 25-21, 22-25, 25-18, 6-15)

  • Romania beat Finland in a tight five-setter in Helsinki and are now leading the pool with two wins in as many matches.
  • Marian Iulian Bala was the best scorer of Romania with 19 points. Elviss Krastins scored 20 times for Finland.
  • 2,450 Finnish fans were very disappointed to see their favourite team lose the last set by a landslide 6-15.

Tuomas Sammelvuo, head coach of Finland: “I think that the desire to win was clearly seen in the Romanian team. This match was a very good lesson for us. It is good that our next match on Sunday is again vs. this same opponent. We knew that Romania serve and attack well. We were not aggressive enough on serve and our defence missed a lot of easy balls.”

Eemi Tervaportti, captain of Finland: “It was a tough game and with a bit of ups and downs for us. Romania took advantage of their chances better than us. We didn’t kill the balls as well as we should have.”

Danut Pascu, head coach of Romania: “We came here to make a good game and we did it eventually. We fought for this victory and we deserved to win. After this win our chances to go to the European Championships have grown bigger. I am sure that the next game will be very tough for us.”

Laurentiu Lica, captain of Romania: “We are very happy. We came here trying to show our best Volleyball and I think we did it. Step by step, we are building our dream to go to the Finals. Today we did very well.”

Pool B

Estonia vs. Israel 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-15)

  • It was a full house in legendary Kalev Sports Hall with 2,300 Estonian fans in attendance. That´s how many fit in the hall, people were even standing where possible. There was literally no space to fit in more people which created a superb atmosphere for the home team.
  • After the second set there was a special tribute to Kalev 68 volleyball team and its players as it is the 50th anniversary of their title win in Soviet Union Championships in 1968. Players of Kalev 68 were asked to step on court and meet today´s national team players during the moving tribute.
  • Oliver Venno started as opposite instead of Renee Teppan and had a tremendous match with 19 points on Estonia´s side.
  • In the third set Estonia attacked powerfully to take an 8-1 lead and Israel had no ‘gun powder’ to answer that run. Estonia made many substitutions but the set went to the hosts anyway: 25-15.

Gheorghe Crețu, head coach of Estonia: “It was not easy to beat Israel today, but of course I am very satisfied with the result. I wanted to make substitutions sooner than in the third set, but it was not possible as things were tight on court. I am glad that the guys mean so much to the Estonian people that every hall where we play is full of our fans.”

Pool C

Slovakia vs. Republic of Moldova 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-16)

  • Slovakia won their second match in Nitra in straight sets in front of 1,400 spectators. 
  • It was the second victory for Slovakia, who have moved to second place in Pool C. Both teams will meet again on Sunday in Chisinau.
  • Republic of Moldova are third now in the pool as Montenegro are leading the way. All three teams have won two out of three matches. Slovakian opposite Peter Michalovič was the best scorer of the match with 19 points including six aces. Setter Juraj Zaťko (SVK) and outside-hitter Dmitrii Bahov (MDA) were awarded as best players of the match.

Andrej Kravárik, head coach of Slovakia: "We were concentrated from the first ball and I am satisfied that we confirmed that we are the better team. We needed this victory and a good performance after our loss in Montenegro. I’m happy that it was before an almost full house here in Nitra. We expect a more difficult match in Moldova."

Vitalii Osipov, assistant coach of Moldova: "We had two victories in the group, so our players started to believe in themselves before this match. But today we made lot of mistakes in reception, and the Slovakians served very well, which was the breakpoint."

Montenegro vs Iceland 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-15)

  • It was the very first time that Montenegro and Iceland met on the international stage. Before the match, Montenegro had a record of one win and one loss, and Iceland had yet to have their first victory in Pool C.
  • The away team could keep up with Montenegro until 6-6, but due to the great efforts of Marko Bojic, the home side were leading after 22 minutes of play (25-15).
  • Iceland rode their momentum to a lead in the middle of the second set but things quickly changed and dynamic Montenegro clinched the set without any trouble.
  • The home coach rotated the players during the third set, but the tired Icelandic team could not cope with the attacks of the fresh Montenegrin bench. Montenegro won in straight sets and are now leading Pool C after Moldova lost their last game to Slovakia.
  • Marko Vukasinovic was the top scorer with 14 points for Montenegro.

Marko Vukasinovic, player of Montenegro: “We played an enjoyable match today. I am satisfied with how we played and I am extremely happy that we are at the top of our pool.”

Christophe Achten, head coach of Iceland: “We had a great game against a really strong team. I am happy even after a loss as well, because we could improve some aspects of our game.”

Pool D

Portugal vs. Austria 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-17)

  • The match in Braga was visited by 1,250 spectators.
  • Portugal’s captain Alexandre Ferreira (Alex) made the difference in service in the first set with two aces. On Austria’s side opposite Paul Buchegger was the man to beat, scoring seven points in the first set alone. Lourenço Martins closed the set with two points in attack.
  • Portugal’s strong services exposed Austria’s difficulties in reception, making their life complicated. In a tighter second set the deciding point was made by Portugal’s captain Alex: 25-23.
  • In the third set Portugal’s supremacy was maintained as well as the duel between Alexandre Ferreira and Paul Buchegger, with Alex scoring a block to Austria’s opposite (12-6). Portugal closed the match with an attack from Marco Ferreira.
  • The best scorers duel of the match - Alex vs. Buchegger - ended with a tie, with both players scoring 18 points apiece.

Hugo Silva, head coach of Portugal: “I have not yet made the math for the qualification, but what I know is that we always play to win and that’s what we have to continue doing. The warrior spirit of the Portuguese was very evident once again in this match. That’s one of our best assets. Next match in Austria will be complicated since they will create difficulties and we cannot be distracted as it happened in today’s second set. We have to stay always focused, because in volleyball the one who makes fewer errors wins.”

Alexandre Ferreira, captain of Portugal: “Once again the team has to be congratulated! We executed exactly what we had studied of Austria’s game. They usually serve well and have good reception. We created great difficulties for their receivers and all changed. Now we are three points away from achieving our main goal. We know that Austria will create many difficulties on their home turf, but we only depend on ourselves.”

Michael Warm, head coach of Austria: “In my opinion, what made the difference in this match, was the many errors that we made in defence and that didn’t allow us to develop our attack. Portugal has a good team but in the next match, in Austria, we will fight back and try to win.”

Croatia vs. Albania 3-1 (25-15, 25-21, 19-25, 25-14)

  • Croatia’s Men’s Volleyball team won their first game in the qualifications for the 2019 #EuroVolleyM. After having lost their first two games to Portugal and Austria, they were those celebrating against Albania.
  • Albania were not so strong in the first two parts, but in the third set they started fighting back. However, this was not enough and the players headed by Ivan Rančić performed very well in the decisive moments, forcing their opponents to make mistakes.

Ivan Rančić, head coach of Croatia: “We played a good match, but we were a bit sore. The Albanians are strong. They have plenty of international players and played good Volleyball today. I’m glad that Zhukouski is getting better, now we will go to Albania for more points in order to keep our chances to qualify for the European Championship. Our service is kind of bad, we have a fantastic block, but we need to serve better. Let’s get the line drawn up and prepare for January.”

Danijel Galić, player of Croatia: “We played well, we opened well, until the third set, but we did not underestimate them in the beginning and that is the most important thing”.

Pool E

Spain vs. Norway 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-22, 25-19)

  • Spain delivered a great performance to get their second victory in the qualification to #EuroVolleyM.
  • The Red Lynxes claimed the first set with a good serve and took advantage of the Viking mistakes.
  • Norway improved their block in the second set. Spain could not break down the wall and the match was levelled.
  • Jorge Fernández and Andrés Villena paved the way for Spain to win. The middle blocker recorded five blocks and the opposite 16 points to be the top scorer of the match together with Mathias Loftesnes (NOR). 
  • Melilla was again the amulet for Spain. All the matches played in the African enclave have ended with a Spanish win this far.
  • Both teams will face each other one more time this Saturday in Norway. Three important points to earn a ticket to #EuroVolleyM will be at stake there.

Fernando Muñoz, head coach of Spain: “We knew that Norway could create many problems to us. They had a great level in serve and attack.  We had some problems to adjust to the few changes they made. It cost us to get our rhythm in two sets. We are very happy with this win and with the two matches played in Melilla. The organisation here was great, everything was very comfortable for us.”

Ángel Trinidad, player of Spain: “The most positive thing was the victory. We started with some problems and had to adjust our performance. We grew during the match. We want to make a great match next Saturday in order to get closer to the Finals of the European Championship. ”

Belarus vs. Georgia 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-12)

  • The Belarusian team dominated throughout the whole game.
  • They were especially good at blocking in the first part and the Georgian team took two time-outs. Viktar Beksha, head coach of the Belarusian team, made some rotations in his line-up to react.
  • Viktar Beksha gave a chance to Vadzim Pranko and Siarhei Antanovich, who didn’t show up on the court in the previous games. On Wednesday, they took the chance given and performed well.

Sulkhani Akhvlediani, head coach of Georgia: “The Belarusian team was just stronger. That’s all I can say.”

Otari Chachua, player of Georgia: “It wasn’t our day. The Belarusian team was really good. We still need more practicing.”

Viktar Beksha, head coach of Belarus:  “We tried to show a good and nice game. Yes, we had some mistakes. But we controlled the match and this makes us feel happy.”

Vadzim Pranko, player of Belarus: “I’m happy that I had a chance to play, to help our team. It was important to perform well in front of so many people. We played not only for points, but also for the people. And I’m happy that everything went well.”

Pool F

Ukraine vs. Hungary 3-0 (25-15, 27-25, 25-19)

  • Ukraine dominated from the very first moment, winning the first set with a 10-point difference. This was partly due to the performance of Dmytro Viietskyi, who scored seven points in the opening set and 18 total in the match.
  • The second part was a tied one, as Hungary were breathing down the necks of their opponents - mainly thanks to contributions from the two opposite hitters - Arpad Baroti and Krisztian Padar. However, Ukraine were able to come back from 20-21 to win the set at 27-25.
  • This is Ukraine’s third win in a row, and the first match where Hungary did not take a set.
  • Ukraine’s players recorded seven blocks in the match compared to only one for Hungary.

Former Y.R. of Macedonia vs. Switzerland 2-3 (25-21, 21-25, 23-25, 25-19, 12-15)

  • The next match between the Former Y.R. of Macedonia and Switzerland will be played on Saturday in Betoncoupe Arena Schönenwerd.
  • Both teams have one win and two losses this far, which is the same record as Hungary. All three teams remain in the race for second place in Pool F.
  • Nikola Gjorgiev with 40 points was the highest scorer of the match. Switzerland had a more balanced scoring approach with Luca Ulrich scoring 18, Joel Roos 17 and Samuel Ehrat and Thomas Brändli 13 points each.
  • Six points in a row in the third set while being down 21-18 was a defining moment for the Swiss side. Three blocks by Samuel Ehrat were instrumental in this run.

Nikola Gjorgiev, captain of F.Y.R. of Macedonia: “I can’t explain why we lost two matches on home court after the win in Budapest. We have to move forward and to play with higher team spirit.”

Luca Ulrich, outside hitter of Switzerland: “This was a good game for us and a first win. It was not easy. We knew that they are a good team and they have good attackers. We were well prepared and tried to stop their opposite, because he is the best attacker. It worked very well for us.”

Pool G

Greece vs. Azerbaijan 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-13)

  • Many fans came to Greece’s ‘Volleyball capital’ of Alexandroupolis to support the Men’s National Team.
  • Greece swept on Azerbaijan to maintain an absolutely perfect record after three matches in Pool G.
  • It was Azerbaijan’s first defeat in the competition after two five-sets wins.
  • Nikos Zoupani and Athanasios Protopsaltis finished both with 16 points to their name, thus topping the charts for Greece.
  • On the other hand, Dmitriy Obodnikov was the best scorer of Azerbaijan with seven points.
  • Greece outclassed Azerbaijan in attack, with 81% in the first set. Protopsaltis alone had 80%.

Georgios Petreas, captain of Team Greece: “The level of our team is shown in every game. We are a lot better than the other three teams in our pool. We did not suddenly become a super team, but we are now showing what we are capable of.”

Farid Jalalov, head coach of Team Azerbaijan: “We played very bad, in comparison to Greece who played very well. This is not our true face. I am sure that on Sunday in Baku it will be a completely different game between these two teams.”

Sweden vs. Luxembourg 3-1 (22-25, 25-14, 25-17, 25-14)

  • Marcus Nilsson finished the match with an amazing haul of 26 points and was handed the award for the ’player of the game’.
  • Thanks to their 3-1 victory Sweden is now side by side with Azerbaijan as both teams have recorded a total of four points each after three legs, but Azerbaijan have two wins vs. one for the Swedes.
  • Luxembourg and Sweden will clash two times within a span of just four days. The second game between the two sides is taking place in d'Coque "Gymnase" in Luxembourg on Saturday.

Andreas Eriksson, player of Sweden: “We won today because we were the better team all the way through. After losing the first two matches, first against Azerbaijan and then against Greece, we were under a lot of pressure coming into this game, and I think it showed out there in the first set. I am happy that we managed to grab the win.”

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