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Ukraine stop inspired Croatia at the start of Golden #EuroLeagueM
2021 silver medallists, the team of Ukraine started on a positive note their 2022 journey at the competition, after outclassing at 3-1 the team of Croatia, who are also the hosts of the Final Four tournament this year.
Led for a very first time by their new head coach, former coach of EstonIa, Cedric Enard, the Croatians showed inspiration, as after losing the first two sets, were able to come back, and brethe down their opponents’ necks until the last moments of the match. However, without Leo Andric, best server of EuroVolleyM 2021, who is still competing with his club Cuneo Volley, the Croatians weren’t able to take the maximum out of the game, although showing good potential in the face of Petar Dirlic (top scorer with 22 points).
Ukraine, led by Oleh Plotyntskyi and Maksym Drozd, prevailed with precision in the deciding moments - 51 to 43 winning spikes, 12 kill blocks (to nine), and six aces (to four).
Only in the first minutes of the first set did both sides deliver an equal performance (5-5). After that, last year’s finallists took control over what was happening on the field. With Illia Kovalov on the serve, Ukraine made the Croatian reception suffer, while being able to organize their own attacks. Oleh Plotnytskyi with eight points was above all in these moments, while overall, his team finished in this set with 15 winning spikes (only six by the Croatian team).
It was a close call in the beginning of the second set, and although the Ukrainian team were 2-points ahead, Croatia weren’t ready to give up, taking the lead for a first time in the match at 11-10 after a successful block by Kruno Nikacevic. It served as a wake-up call for team Ukraine, as they quickly reacted with a serie of aces by Yurii Synytsia for 14-11 in their favour. Showing fighting spirit, Croatia, led by Petar Dirlic, got closer again at 16-17. However, the Croatian inspiration wasn’t enough to stop Ukraine, who emerged victorious again, taking a 2-0 set lead. Team Croati let too many errors affect their game in this set (eight to four by their opponents), as this became crucial for the final outcome in this part, given the fact that the player of Enard were slightly better on attack - 11 to eight.
It was a point-for-point race (9-9,14-14) in the third set, until Kruno Nikacevic and Marko Sedlacek contributed with successful actions on block and attack, helping Croatia gain control. The duo Sedlaced- Ivan Zelkovic on serve-attack then shined, and despite Plotnyskyi attempts to turn things around, the hosts took the set.
The fourth set was again a very hard-fought one, as none of the teams was giving up. When the Croatians were close to bringing the match into a tiebreak after a good performance on serve by Bernard Bakonji (20-18), the Ukrainian squad found their way to the victory, turning things around and claiming the victory.
The match in numbers
The combined total number of points scored by both teams throughout the entire match.
The total length of the match, from the first serve through until the last point has ended.
Total number of people in attendance at the venue – taken at the end of the second set.
The combined total number of successful spikes achieved by both teams throughout the entire match.
An average of the two team service reception percentages from the complete match.
The number of successful point winning blocks of CROATIA compared to UKRAINE.
CROATIA number of service aces compared to UKRAINE
Errors leading to points of CROATIA, next to those from UKRAINE