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Croatia take the bronze
Croatia and Ukraine battled it out hard, delivering a Volleyball marathon in five sets (second tie-breaker in a row for 2017 winners&2021 silver medallists from Ukraine). The players of Ugis Krastins were close to come back, after losing the first two sets, and equalising at 2-2. However, in the deciding set, after a real “cat-and-mouse” game, the hosts of the Final Four tournament in Varaždin, Croatia grabbed the medals.
Petar Dirlic was one of the main Croatian weapons on Sunday, as he topped the charts with 29 points to his name (58% exc.). For Ukraine, Oleh Plotnytskyi added 25 (55% exc.).
Statistically, Ukraine outperformed their opponents on attacking (56 to 48 winning spikes), and aced nine times (to four). Croatia were slightly better on blocking (13 to 11 kill blocks), and seized all their chances on their rivals’ errors - 35 to 26.
Croatia entered better in the match, taking an early lead at 5-1, and never looking back in the first set (18-12, 21-14). Croatia’s Peter Dirlic was shining on the court, scoring six points, while on the other side of the net, Ukraine’s captain, Oleh Plotnytskyi finished with five. More errors (nine) costed Ukraine the better outcome in this set, as they were slightly better on attack (11 to 10).
The beginning of the second set was a more intriguing one, as the teams were chasing each others in the result (6-6). Two successful attacks by Plotnytskyi even gave the leadership position to Ukraine (14-12 in their favour), but with some good performance on the block, the players of Enard would take again the lead. Dirlic again became ‘Man of the Hour’ in the last moments of the set, finishing the important balls and giving Croatia the 2-0 set lead.
As many as five blocks sealed the deal for the Croats in this set, as they let more errors as well - eight.
Ukraine were not ready to give up yet. They stormed to a 13-6 lead in their difference, and despite Croatia’s great efforts (17-16), with Maksym Drozd on the serve, and great contribution on the block by Plotnytskyi and Semeniuk, Ukraine got back on track.
The players of Ugis Krastins dominated on attack and at the serving line in this part - 12 to nine winning spikes; four to one ace. Both teams delivered four kill blocks each.
Flying, Ukraine continued pushing hard in the first minutes of the fourth set as well (7-2), and never looked back (19-10), disappointing Croatia. Plotnytskyi and his teammates dominated on all counts in this crucial fourth set - 11 successful attacks (to five); 45% efficiency on this element; two kill blocks (to one) and three aces (to zero).
Croatia showed nerves of steel in the tiebreak, as, led by Dirlic, could make a 3-point difference at 9-6. However, Ukraine weren’t ready to give in, but after a close call until the last minute, Enard’s players grabbed the bronze.
“For sure, we are really happy about the result, but this is one thing only. This young team takes at this first Golden #EuroLeagueM together, as we have in mind some retired players, new staff, etc. I am happy about the process, because we have things to fix, but we worked well, and today’s victory brings something positive for this team - it confirms that our direction is good. We will have to keep going, and right now, I am proud of the guys!”
Head coach of Croatia
“First of all, I would like to congratulate my teammates, because I think that this is a great success for Croatia’s Men’s national team. We played very well in the first two sets, but then again, as yesterday, we had some ups and downs, but fortunately, today, we won!”
Player of Croatia
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