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12/06/2019 23:00
Romania’s men first team to qualify for Silver League Finals
CEV Volleyball European Silver League 2019

Luxembourg, June 12, 2019. It goes down to the wire to determine the eventual finalists of the CEV Volleyball European Silver League 2019 – with one exception. Greece and Austria will be fighting – though not in a match against each other – for the top spot in the men’s Pool A, while Romania are out of reach in Pool B with a record of five straight wins and as a result, they are the first team due to play for top honours. Slovenia and Greece battle for the top spot in women’s Pool B while Romania and Israel are due to fight for the same accolade in Pool A. The competition resumes this weekend with the sixth and final leg – before Romania and Cyprus play their last matchup on Tuesday, June 18.


Pool A

Austria vs. Hungary 3-1 (19-25, 28-26, 25-19, 25-23)

•    Austria are still in contention for a spot in the finals after at the Raiffeisen Sportpark Graz the squad of head coach Michael Warm edged Hungary in a close game by 3-1. Austria have now 12 points, as many as pool leaders Greece, that has won one set more.
•    Top scorers for Austria were Paul Buchegger (16), Alexander Berger (15) and Peter Wohlfahrtstätter (10); Csanad David (15), Alpar Szabo (8) and Kristof Horvath (7) scored the most points for Hungary.
•    Which team will advance to the finals will emerge on Saturday, when Austria play in Hungary (3 pm) and Greece in Bosnia and Herzegovina (8 pm).

Alexander Berger, player of Austria: “Tonight we did not play as good as we are able to but it is the result that matters. We are aware of the problems with our serve, but in practice, we are focussing on other parts of our game ahead of the European Championship. We also know that we are strong at side-out and reception.”

Michael Warm, head coach Austria: “We had a hard time finding the flow, it seemed that the brakes were on, we acted insecure but the roster has depth and thanks to that, we could fight back. We showed a lot of character. Of course, we would have liked to win by 3-0. We won’t focus on Greece, but on our own game.”

Bogdan Tanase, head coach Hungary: “This was our best game in the European League so far. The experience of the Austrian team made the difference at the end of each set.”

Greece vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-17)

•    Greece are back on track for the ticket to the final of the 2019 Men’s European Silver League, following their straight-set win at home in the Piraeus suburb of Rentis over Bosnia and Herzegovina - but also in combination with the result in Graz where Austria host Hungary.
•    Lifted by their attacking efficiency of 56% (40/72) compared to their opponents’ 36% (25/70) and knowing nothing short of 3-0 was any good, Greece showed their serious face and dominated the game from start to finish.
•    Nikos Zoupani was once again top scorer, bringing in 20 points for Greece, with Andreas-Dimitrios Fragkos also scoring in double digits at 14. Best scorer of Bosnia and Herzegovina was Marko Milovanovic with 6 points.

“We played very well in all skills and showed how much we want to qualify for the final,” said Fragkos after the game. “What is important is that we have a fighting spirit and we continue to improve game by game. It is now all down to the last game where we need to win again in straight sets. We can do it and we will do our best to achieve this.”

Pool B 

Denmark vs. Romania 0-3 (20-25, 19-25, 23-25)

•    There were 680 fans rooting for Denmark with flags and drums, setting the perfect atmosphere for an exciting game.  
•    The Romanian team dominated the game from the beginning with great blocks and sharp serves, especially from #9 Robert Adrian Aciobanitei, who made 11 serves in the first set, two of them aces. Denmark got closer in the end of the set, but Team Romania managed to take the set 25-20.  
•    The second set was intensive with great rallies and excellent defence on both sides of the net. Despite Denmark’s #22 Oskar Kjerstein Madsen’s 8 serves - including 3 aces - Romania kept cool and won the set 25-19.  
•    In the third set, Denmark started out with good energy and an aggressive offense. The two teams followed each other closely throughout the set, but Romania did not lose composure and finished the set 25-23, thus winning the game 3-0.
•    Denmark’s top scorers were Oskar Kjerstein Madsen and Peter Trolle Bonnesen with 13 points. Team Romania’s top scorer was Laurentiu Lica with 16.

Azerbaijan vs. Georgia 3-0 (25-17, 25-8, 25-22)

•    Azerbaijan claimed their second victory in the pool – and the second in as many matches with their neighbours from Georgia.
•    Azerbaijan had previously edged Georgia 3-1 in Tbilisi.
•    Azerbaijan were especially dominant in the second set of the match, where Georgia scored only eight points.

Farid Jalalov, head coach of Azerbaijan: “In this year’s European League we could only win against Georgia. They have a young team and our group is more experienced than theirs is. We tried our best to win against Denmark and Romania and we were close to winning against Romania – if we had taken the fourth set. It is difficult to play just with one setter, and this explains, among other things, why we could not win any other matches. Our next match is against Denmark in Baku. We will try to play better than we did in our match in Denmark.”

Tural Hasanli, player of Azerbaijan: “Georgia have a young team. We won both matches against them. We wanted to win all matches and make it to the finals but Aleksey Chervyakov was injured, and as a result, he could not help our team. Our last matches were difficult. We lost the match against Denmark in three sets but we will try to take our revenge here in Baku.”

Sulkhani Akhvlediani, head coach of Georgia: “I congratulate Azerbaijan. Our team is young. It is a great experience for our players to take part in the European Silver League. I believe we will be showing a better performance in the near future.”


Pool A 

Georgia vs. Israel 1-3 (23-25, 14-25, 25-23, 17-25)

•    It was the sixth match in history between Georgia and Israel in the European League.
•    Georgia could celebrate a bit after taking their first set in this year’s competition.
•    Galya Devash top scored for Israel with 17 points, including five blocks.  
•    Georgia set the tempo almost from start to end in the first set (8-4, 16-10, 21-19) but ended up losing it 23-25.
•    Israel are the current leaders of the pool with four wins in five matches.
•    Georgia will finish their duties on June 15 when hosting Romania.

Ana Tevdoradze, player of Georgia: “We hoped to make amends for our loss in Israel but unfortunately, we were not able to do so. I would like to thank all of the spectators that came to support us and I am sorry we could not achieve more than winning one set only. I hope we will gain more experience and one day we will be able to make the fans proud of our team.”

Romania vs. Cyprus 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-15)

•    Romania have made a step towards reaching the final stage of the competition as they claimed their third victory in four matches.
•    Ariana-Cristiana Pirv and Rodica Buterez led Romania to the victory, scoring 16 and 13 points respectively.
•    Katerina Zakchaiou was the best scorer on the other side of the net, recording 9 points for Cyprus.
•    Romania will play Georgia on Saturday, while Cyprus continue their journey against Israel. Cyprus will be hosting Romania on June 18 in Nicosia to complete pool play.

Maurilio Anfuso, head coach of Romania: “We won in straight sets and this is a very important result. We still have to focus on the next match, which we will be playing away from home and of course on the final phase of the competition. I am proud to have led this team on this amazing day for Romanian Volleyball.”

Pool B

Slovenia vs. Portugal 3-1 (27-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-15)

•    After their first defeat last weekend in Portugal, the Slovenians started the rematch determined to claim three points. At first, they caught a flying start but Portugal managed to close the gap (25-25). Nevertheless, Alessandro Chiappini’s team won the next two points and sealed the first set.
•    In the second set, Slovenia easily controlled the match (25-15), while in the third one the visiting team took the lead for the first time. The hosts levelled the score (23-23) but Jose Francisco dos Santos’ players came out victorious in the end.
•    In the fourth set, Portugal kept the score close up to 9-9. After that, the home team earned a more significant lead (20-13), followed by a monster block by Tina Grudina and Darja Eržen, eventually winning the match.
•    Darja Eržen top scored with 21 points while Julia Kavalenka scored 17 points for the visiting side.

“We started the match with the right attitude today. We fought hard all the time and eventually we got the result we wished for,” Darja Eržen commented the victory.

Her head coach Alessandro Chiappini added: “The first two sets were good, in the third one we did not start very well, we were behind most of the time and in the decisive moments we made some mistakes. At the end, we claimed three points and an important victory.”

“The main difference was that we could not keep the rhythm when we started collecting the points. We made a lot of mistakes in the decisive moments and in that way we could not get any better result,” Julia Kavalenka explained after the match.

Greece vs. Estonia 3-1 (27-29, 25-18, 25-20, 26-24)

•    Greece did the job (though just barely) against Estonia Wednesday afternoon in the northern Peloponnese town of Vrachati, and with a 3-1 win over the Baltic side now prepare to go to Ljubljana and take on Slovenia one-on-one for a ticket to the final of the 2019 Women’s European Silver League.
•    But most of the time Greece were hardly very convincing and had periods of utter breakdown, allowing a plucky Estonian side with admirable fighting spirit to keep up the pressure as best they could.
•    Greece could have had an easier evening, had they capitalised on a 24-22 lead in the first set. However, Estonia fought back, tied the score at 24-24 on back-to-back errors by Olga Strantzali and went on to take the set after Evangelia Merteki hit wide and Eliise Hollas served an ace.
•    Estonia missed an opportunity as well to take Greece all the way, when they took a wide early lead in the fourth and forced the Spanish coach of the home side Guillermo Naranjo Hernandez to call both his timeouts by the eighth point. As it were, Greece did get their act together just enough to come back from 6-12 and with a six-point run to make it 12-12 and go on to wrap up the game in four.
•    With the final tally in, it was Strantzali who led the scoring on 22 points and Anthi Vasilantonaki following on 20 for Greece. Estonia led on the service front with 16 aces (5 by Liis Kullerkann alone) to 11 and in blocking with 8 stuffs to 7. Kristel Moor with 13 points was the best scorer of the visitors.
•    It was actually the unforced errors of Greece (33), which counted for over a third of Estonia’s total points (91), which made the match so close.

“It is very important that we turned around the fourth set, which gives us the self-confidence necessary for the deciding match against Slovenia,” said Guillermo Naranjo.

“Other than in the first set, we did not manage to press Greece enough with our serving and we lack the necessary experience and depth on the bench to beat such opponents,” added Estonia coach Andrei Ojamets.

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