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12/06/2019 23:00
Golden #EuroLeagueW drama continues as the Final Four roster is yet to emerge
CEV Volleyball European Golden League 2019

Luxembourg, June 12, 2019. The race to the Final Four continues in the Golden European League, as none of the contestants was able to confirm the qualification. In Pool A, Czech Republic removed Slovakia from contention for the first place, while Ukraine remain on top of the pool with four wins and 12 points. France won a marathon against Pool B leaders Croatia, recording their first victory in the tournament. Hungary remain right behind Croatia with 10 points after a comprehensive 3-0 win against Austria. In Pool C, Belarus keep the leader position after a straight set victory over Finland, but with just two points down Spain can still overcome the Belarusian team in the final leg. The pool winners will join hosts Croatia for the Finals due to take place in Varaždin on June 21-22, 2019.

Pool A 

Ukraine vs. Sweden 3-0 (25-10, 25-10, 25-17)

•    It took less than an hour for Ukraine to claim a comfortable victory over the Swedish team. 
•    Kateryna Tkachenko and Lyubov Uzhva scored their first ever points for the senior national team.
•    Anna Stepaniuk and Diana Karpets became the top scorers for the Ukrainian side with 14 and 12 points respectively. Diana Lundvall scored 9 points for Sweden.  

Gariy Yegiazarov, coach of Ukraine: “We played our game and we did not allow ourselves to relax at any point. We have achieved the desired result - of course, I am very pleased with that.”

Ettore Guidetti, coach of Sweden: “The Ukrainian team is definitely stronger than ours. We tried to fight, but the Ukrainian women played just great. Their victory is completely logical.”

Slovakia vs. Czech Republic 1-3 (21-25, 25-22, 17-25, 26-28)

•    Slovakia lost their chance to qualify to the Final Four of the Golden European League after a defeat from the hands of Czech Republic, who is back in the race in Pool A.
•    800 spectators attended the game in Humenne in a derby between two countries of the former Czechoslovakia.
•    Czech Republic outplayed Slovakia 14 to 12 in blocks, while Slovakia led with seven aces to Czech Republic’s three.
•    Video challenge system was implemented during both matches in Humenne.
•    Middle-blocker Veronika Hroncekova (SVK) and outside hitter Michaela Mlejnkova (CZE) were awarded as best players of the match.

Marco Fenoglio, coach of Slovakia: “I asked our players to play their best the entire match and we fought a lot, but in the end our opponent was stronger than us. They were better in attack, the block was strong on both sides, we made less mistakes, but at the end Czech Republic were better. Unfortunately, we lost a chance to qualify to the Final Four, but we want to finish this competition with a victory. We will do our best in Poprad against Ukraine. I want to thank our fans and also our federation, they prepared very good conditions for us.”

Michaela Mlejnkova, outside hitter of Czech Republic: “We didn't expect an easy battle, since it was a very important match for both teams. Slovakia played very well, the conditions were difficult and I am happy we did it. Our position is not bad now, we need a victory against Sweden in the last game and we hope it will be enough to reach the Final Four.”

Pool B 

France vs. Croatia 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-22, 21-19)

•    1,902 spectators attended the match in Harnes, France.
•    France recorded their first victory in the 2019 Golden European League, defeating the top team of Pool B - Croatia.
•    Manon Moreels played not only in front of a home crowd, but in front of fans of her own club from Harnes as well.

Manon Moreels, outside hitter of France: “This victory feels really great! It was a tough  match, but we fought hard and in the end we made it. It felt so awesome to play here in Harnes. The fans really helped us stay in the game.”

Austria vs. Hungary 0-3 (25-27, 16-25, 16-25)

•    In the third home game of the European Golden League at the Raiffeisen Sportpark Graz the Austrian women’s national team suffered a 0-3 (25-27, 16, 25, 16-25) defeat to Hungary. The loss means that second place in the group is now out of reach for the Austrians.
•    Hungary was very well prepared by head coach Jan De Brandt, on the other hand the Austrian side did not live up to the expectations.
•    The „golden girls“ of Austria's head coach Svetlana Ilic will still have the opportunity to strike back in the sixth leg on Saturday in Budapest.
•    The re-match also marks the last game of the Austrian team in its first appearance in the European Golden League.

Sophie Wallner, libero of Austria: “We are disappointed, because we know that we can do better. We had problems in block and defence today. Hungary plays particularly well on the outside, nevertheless we could have done better. In the third set we started poorly and could not make the sideout. In the third set we substituted a lot and tried everything.”

Svetlana Ilic, head coach of Austria: “We did not want the game to turn out this way. We can play a lot better than this. We could not show our full potential. The serve was not as good as in the previous games. If we want to improve, we need more matches at this level. I’m still satisfied, because I know what the team has achieved in the past couple of weeks. Now we need to recharge our batteries and play better in Hungary.”

Jan De Brandt, head coach of Hungary: “It was crucial to win the opening set. Our block and defence worked out fine and we were able to disrupt Austria’s reception. In the second and in the third set we dominated the game in serve and reception.”

Pool C 

Finland vs. Belarus 0-3 (17-25, 16-25, 18-25)

•   Belarus took their fifth win in the Golden League and are leading Pool C with good chances to reach the Final Four.  
•   Finland faced issues with their reception and attack, experiencing only short phases of good game throughout the match.
•   Belarus scored 13 blocks, while Finland responded with only two.  
•   Top three scorers for Team Belarus were Katsiaryna Sakolchyk with 12 points, Hanna Kalinouskaya with 11 and Hanna Klimets with 10.

Tapio Kangasniemi, head coach of Finland: “Belarus were attacking very well, efficiently and in many different ways. We had nothing to say to that. We have one match left against Azerbaijan and we must play better in serve and reception in that match. We must get the game going in our way.” 

Piotr Khilko, head coach of Belarus: “We did very well and followed our tactics. Finland’s reception was not very good and they had problems with our serve. We do not think about the Final Four yet, because we still have one match left against Spain.”

Spain vs. Azerbaijan 3-0 (25-12, 26-24, 25-22)

•    The attacks of Helia González and serves of Mabel Caro Garcia helped Spain secure a landslide 25-12 win in the first set.
•    More than 1,100 fans in attendance at Huerta del Rey played a major role as the Leonas del Voley achieved their fourth victory in five matches in the competition.
•    Azerbaijan put up a fight in the second set but Spain were able to fight back and seal a 26-24 win.
•    Maria José Corral was the key for Spain in the third set as the hosts rushed to a 16-8 lead and did not look back anymore.
•    Jessica Rivero top scored for Team Spain with 16 points, including four blocks.  
•    The members of the youth national team were on the stands to root for their more experienced compatriots.
•    On Saturday, Spain will finish their duties in the pool when hosting Belarus in Alicante. 

Helia González, player of Spain: “I think we played a great game, better than we did in previous matches, and we are happy that we improve with each game. We have a great opportunity to be in the finals and we will fight with everything we have to make it there.”
Alba Sánchez, player of Spain: “I think that today we served really well and as a result, it was difficult for them to help. We are extremely happy that we could claim a fourth victory and we look forward to playing Belarus on Saturday in Alicante.”  

Giovanni Caprara, head coach of Azerbaijan: “We did not play very well in the first set, but the second went much better, for sure. I think we did a quite good job in reception but our attackers did not perform the way they should. It was difficult for us to deal especially with Rivero and González, but we definitely have to do something to improve our attacking game.”

Click here for further information. 

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