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09/01/2019 19:07
Estonia, Romania, Slovenia and Switzerland complete #EuroVolleyW teams
CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women

Luxembourg, January 9, 2019.  After a busy night of action, it was Estonia, Romania, Slovenia and Switzerland who completed the line up of 24 teams who will take to the court in this summers premier European Volleyball event.  With 20 teams already sitting comfortably and looking forward to the drawing of lots later this month, it was these four who came out winners from their respective matches to take a place at the Finals.   Switzerland (pictured left) return again after co-hosting the event with Germany in 2013, while it is the first time a women's team has reached European Finals in a ball sport in Estonian history.  Catch up on all of the action on EuroVolleyTV.

Pool A

Israel vs. Slovenia 0-3 (17-25, 12-25, 23-25)

•    This matchup was a very important one as the winner from it would secure their ticket to #EuroVolleyW!
•    Israel lost the chance to qualify after losing the first set.
•     Slovenia qualify for the European Championship for the second time in their history.
•    In the third set Israel showed fighting spirit and tied the game. However, the players coached by Alessandro Chiappini took the initiative in the decisive moments and closed the match 3-0 in their favour.
•    Sasa Planinsec from Slovenia was top scorer with 13 points.

Giuseppe Cuccarini, head coach of Israel: "I think our approach today was a bit nervous. It can happen when you have a goal which is very difficult to reach. The final score shows clearly that at the moment Slovenia is better than us."

Alessandro Chiappini, head coach of Slovenia: "We knew before the game that we were very close to qualifying due to Israel's score against Belgium and our result in our game earlier this week. We came here with the pure intention to win this game. We had some difficult moments during the first set, but we were stable in our mind, and I'm very happy about the result. For us, as a very young team, to play in the European Championship is important, so that we can gain experience."

Iceland vs. Belgium 0-3 (4-25, 7-25, 6-25)

•    Belgium won the first set 25-4, the exact same score as the first set between those teams in the first leg back in August.
•    Belgium qualified for EuroVolley 2019 by winning all their matches 3-0, joining Greece as the only other women’s team to make it through the qualification round without dropping a set.
•    Dominika Strumilo was the top scorer for Belgium with 14 points.

Erla Rán Eiríksdóttir, captain of the Icelandic team: “It's very nice playing against strong teams, but of course we would have liked to have scored more points. Our main goal was to play our game and keep up a certain tempo which I think we accomplished."

Jutta Van De Vyver, player of the Belgium team: “We wanted to win all the matches 3-0, we are happy that we reached that goal. Now we will focus on the Volleyball Nations League and then it's the Olympic qualifications and we will use those tournaments to prepare for the European Championship."

Pool B

Albania vs. Croatia 0-3 (15-25, 8-25, 14-25)

•    Already qualified Croatia came through in straight sets for an easier than expected victory against Albania, leading from start to finish.
•    The away side were commanding in all areas and concluded their sixth and final match of the qualification in just 59 minutes.
•    Croatia’s Bozana Butigan was the best player and top scorer in the game scoring 14 points, including 11 winning spikes. For Albania the best scorer was Antoneta Molla, with 10 points.
•    Whilst this was the first match of a busy day across Europe, Croatia guaranteed top spot in Pool B, collecting the maximum 18 points from their six matches and only dropping two sets in the group.  Albania are now confirmed as finishing in fourth place, failing to record any set wins through the qualification.

Daniele Santarelli, head coach of Croatia: “I am very happy with my team, we played well and managed an easy victory against Albania. We expected a different game today, but for us it was quite easy to win these points. We have reached our goals, being in the first place of the group, so for us now starts a new challenge. I want to congratulate my players for everything they have done during these matches and tell them to not be satisfied with this, but to look for more in the future.”

Altin Martiri, head coach of Albania: “We did not play well today, maybe this was the weakest match of the qualifications for us. We know that we are a team “under construction”, with young players which are wearing the national team's jersey for the first time. We still have to work hard in the future, to create a new and strong team. I think the girls learned plenty of lessons from these games and will do much better in the future”.

Croatia come together after taking a crucial point

Switzerland vs. Austria 2-3 (25-23, 25-22, 20-25, 21-25, 15-17)

•    Austria may have won this Pool B showdown, but by taking the first two sets it is Switzerland who secure the ticket to the EuroVolley 2019.
•    In a fantastic atmosphere, the Swiss team played their very best volleyball in the first two sets – pushed on by an excited crowd of 1,150.
•    Laura Künzler, captain of the Swiss Women’s National Team, was back after her injury and her contribution was crucial - she scored 15 points, and many of the important ones.
•    Maja Storck from the home side was the top scorer in the match, scoring 27 points.
•    While the most valuable player of the Austrian team was undoubtedly Nikolina Maros with 20 points.
•    While a 3-0 or 3-1 victory would have been enough, Austria came up short and finished in third place.

Laura Künzler, team captain of Switzerland: “Before this match we were all very emotional, but then we won the first two sets and we were so happy that we actually qualified for the European Championship. The next two sets were a little bit disappointing, as we did not play as good as we could. In the final set, we managed to get back into the match but in the end, we did not have enough left. Overall, the qualification is what counts and I’m really proud of our young team.”

Svetlana Ilic, head coach of Austria: “Switzerland kept more calm in the decisive moments and did a better job. I want to congratulate them for the qualification to the EuroVolley, for sure they deserved it. It’s hard to find the right words, because now we are more emotional than rational. I clearly saw during the game when we were too short, especially after the injury of our first middle blocker. Our team is young and we are not prepared for this kind of stress.”

Pool C

Norway vs. Ukraine 1-3 (22-25, 25-18, 22-25, 11-25)

•    The first three sets were closely contested, with only a 1-point net difference between Ukraine and the young Norwegian team (69-68).
•    Ukraine’s experience showed through in the fourth set winning it to eleven points, giving a clear indication as to why they have qualified for the finals.
•    Norway finish the qualifiers bottom of the group.
•    The average age of Norway is under 20-years-old, they have a promising future if they continue to work together as they have done this past year.

Emilie Olimstad, player for Norway: “I feel that we are developing in the right direction. This is only the start for our qualification for future championships.”

Matt van Wezel, coach of Norway: “We played very good the first two and a half sets. Everyone could see the potential that is in this team. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep this the whole game. I see us being a strong team in the next four years. Give us some time.”

Gariy Yegiazarov, coach of Ukraine: “Before the match we agreed that this was not that important as we were already qualified. We have with us some younger players and we used our bench a lot. The match was very good for the spectators, especially the first three sets.”

Montenegro vs. Greece 0-3 (17-25, 21-25, 12-25)

•    The travelling side secured their sixth straight 3-0 victory with a comprehensive win over Montenegro further cementing their place at the top of Pool C.  
•    This was the first qualification match to be played in the competition hall Mediteranski Sportski Centar in Budva attracting over 300 fans.
•    This result sees a repeat of their first encounter, with Montenegro failing to win a single set against group leaders Greece.
•    With a young team Montenegro are rightly confident for the future, lead by recently appointed young coach, Nikola Masonicic.
•    The best player of the match was Olga Strantzali (pictured below) who scored 18 points, including 13 spikes and five aces, as outside-hitter.

Olga Strantzali, player of Greece: “I am very happy about the game, we won quite easily. We played a very good team but we made it look easy. I am really excited for the European Championship this summer.”

Nikola Masonicic, head coach of Montenegro: “I want to congratulate the Greek team. They played very well. We played good in the first two sets, but in the 3rd one the Greek team showed why they are the best team in the pool.”

Pool D

Denmark vs. France 1-3 (25-22, 20-25, 15-25, 12-25)

•    France finished the qualification unbeaten, while the home side finish bottom of the pool.
•    Denmark played in front of a sold-out crowd in Antvorskovhallen, the new home court of the Danish National Teams. The fans waited in a long line to get into the arena even after the match had started, great hype for the final EuroVolley qualifier in Pool D.
•    Denmark won the 1st set of the match, thereby giving France their 1st set loss in the qualification. France was 15-0 in sets before the start of this match.
•    The leading scorer of the match was 18-year-old opposite Amélie Rotar from France with 17 points, 14 of which from spikes.

Speed through the middle for France splits the block of Denmark

Sven-Erik Lauridsen, head coach of Denmark: “We have to play at the very top level all the time to keep up with France. We had an amazing start to the match, where the girls really hit everything and succeeded with it. It is hard to keep that top level for a whole match and we dropped in the end. With a bit more surplus, we could have ended the match better, which I think the girls would have deserved.”

Emile Rousseaux, head coach of France: “It was a tricky match. We have a lot of respect for the Danish team, which I think played at their right level in the 1st set, but then the dropped below what they can do. I am really satisfied that we have all players, setters, liberos, in action today. It is important for us to start building a team for the Olympics in Paris 2024. This was a unique experience for the young girls, who learned a lot from the match in a truly great atmosphere.”

Portugal vs. Georgia 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-12)

•    Trailing 9-12 in the first set, the home side reacted and took the lead (15-13), after some strong serving from Eduarda Duarte and Vanessa Rodrigues.
•    In the second set, once again superior in the service, Portugal had a 22-17 lead. But Georgia’s strong reactions shortened the gap before Eduarda Duarte closed out the set.
•    The third and last set was completely dominated by the local team, who closed the qualification phase with only two defeats, both which came against the undefeated France.
•    Barbara Gomes (Portugal), with 12 points was the best scorer of the match, followed by Laura Simoniia and Ann Kalandadze, from Georgia, both with 10 points scored.

Rui Moreira, head coach of Portugal: “We have to highlight the growth of the team throughout the match, after a somewhat rocky start that led to such an expressive result. This qualification is good for national volleyball, good for women’s volleyball and good for our country.”

Barbara Gomes, player for Portugal: “We are happy to achieve such a historic accomplishment for Portuguese volleyball. With work all is possible and I believe that if we continue to work hard, we will have a good performance in EuroVolley.”

Paata Ulumbelashvili, coach of Georgia: “Portugal played very well and ended up by being a fair winner. The defeat is never good to anyone, but this match was one more step in our team development.”

Pool E

Finland vs. Estonia 1-3 (20-25, 25-15, 14-25, 17-25)

•    Estonia secured the ticket to the Women’s EuroVolley 2019 by beating Finland 3-1 at Elenia Areena in Hämeenlinna.
•    This is the first time that Estonia has qualified for the Finals, making history.
•    With the win Estonia took first place in Pool E away from Finland, who moved down to second place and also qualified.
•    Finland’s squad was limited to twelve players, after outside hitters Ronja Heikkiniemi injured her ankle and Salla Karhu was sick.
•    Kristiine Miilen and Kertu Laak were the best scorers for Estonia with 21 and 19 points respectively. Suvi Kokkonen scored 13 points for Finland.

Andrei Ojamets, head coach of Estonia: “Everybody knew how important this match was for us and today it was easy to motivate the players. The result was great for us and now I don’t really know what I can say. This is so great. At this moment I am really happy.”

Julija Mönnakmäe, captain of Estonia: “It was less nervous for us than in the previous match in Estonia against Sweden. We enjoyed playing this game today. We were pretty confident in the last two sets. I really don’t understand what we have just done. Maybe tomorrow I’ll know.”

Tapio Kangasniemi, head coach of Finland: “Congratulations to our opposition. This is a big achievement for them and we are happy for them. We had several problems during this match and last week, meaning we didn’t play very well today. We made the kind of mistakes we usually don’t. Only in the second set we played as we wanted.”

Laura Pihlajamäki, captain of Finland: “Estonia really wanted to win this match and you could see it on court. We did not play at our best today.”

Estonia preparing for serve                                 Time to celebrate, led by Kertu Laak

Sweden vs. Czech Republic 0-3 (20-25, 24-26, 18-25)

•    For Czech Republic, there was only one thing that mattered going into Wednesday’s game: getting that ’Win’. Without it, the top-seeds in pool E would definitely miss the Finals. But as happy as they were after the final spike went in, it was soon to be learnt that they did not make it anyway as Estonia came out victorious in their away-clash against a Finland side that had already booked their ’golden tickets’ to EuroVolley.
•    The last time the two teams clashed, Sweden caused a huge upset, winning the away game 3-2. However the yellow and blues did not manage to repeat the feat, but still impressed the almost fully packed arena Eriksdalshallen in Stockholm.
•    Next up for this very young and talented national team is the European Golden League.

Jonas Svantesson, head coach of Team Sweden: "We did a very good job during the first two sets and really challenged our opponents, but in both cases we got stuck in single rotations which led us to losing them both."

Kateřina Holásková, middle-blocker of Team Czech Republic: "We were the best team here today, but unfortunately it did not bring anything with it. It was important for us to win this game, but honestly, I am really fighting (with my feeling) right now. It is bitter, that is all I can say right now."

Pool F

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Romania 2-3 (17-25, 25-19, 25-21, 17-25, 9-15)

•    The sports hall "Lukavac" was filled to the last place with the best attendance in the history of Bosnian women's Volleyball.  A fantastic atmosphere was maintained right through the match by the 1,230 fans.
•    It was a "winner takes it all" situation going into the match and going the distance it was the away side from Romania who secured a spot at EuroVolley this summer.
•    Bosnia and Herzegovina missed the opportunity to advance to the European Championship for the first time in their history.
•    The best scorer of the match was Dajana Boskovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the sister of Serbian superstar Tijana Boskovic, scoring 27 points through the match.
•    For Romania, the best performance was by Ioana Maria Baciu, who scored 26 times - including 25 spikes.

Romanian Captain Nneka Obiamaka Onyejekwe (#18) led the blocking for her team

Nikolay Ivanov, head coach of Romania:  "It was a very difficult match for us. We played in a great atmosphere, it was very nice. This is a very important victory for us. We played well in the tie-break and won. That led us to the European Championship and I'm happy about that."

Goran Nesic, head coach of Bosnia and Herzegovina: "I don’t know what can I say at this moment, it's hard for us. We were close to the victory, in the end I can say that we won ourselves. I congratulate Romania and we are waiting for some new opportunity to go to the next European Championship."

Spain vs. Latvia 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-22)

•    Spain returns to the European Championship after six years of absence.
•    The atmosphere in Guadalajara was a party, with fans celebrating the ticket for the EuroVolley and the top position in Pool F.
•    A good start from Spain in the first set opened a gap that Latvia was not able to close.  The story was similar in the second set.
•    Head coach Pascual Saurin utilized the bench to full effect and all Spanish players were able to participate in the match.
•    Latvia had a better performance in the third set with a chance to claim their first set in a very tight ending.
•    María Antonia Gomila and Raquel Montoro made their debut with the Leonas del Vóley in this match.

María Segura, player of Spain: “Today’s match was very important for us. We wanted to end the pool phase in first position. We had a very good start, but in the second and third we were very relaxed. The most important thing was to end the match with a victory and with the ticket to EuroVolley and celebrate our return to the European Championship.”

Inguna Minusa, head coach of Latvia: “We are a very young team. We built this team six months ago and we are getting better match after match. We are getting more confident in all the skills, and these games have been very important for us.”

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