Luxembourg, June 1, 2018. The 2018 edition of the CEV Volleyball Golden European League – Women resumes on Saturday with a full set of six matches across three pools. The Czech Republic host Belarus in Jindrichuv Hradec and will be trying to add a fifth straight win to their record – a result that would secure their spot in the Final Four. Azerbaijan and Bulgaria will be playing away from home as they fight for first place in Pool A while Hungary, Finland and Croatia are all still in contention for the top position in Pool B. The competition will be reaching its climax with the Final Four due to take place in Budapest on June 14-15, 2018.
Ukraine vs. Bulgaria
• Ukraine are the gold medal winners from the 2017 edition of the European League where they beat Finland in the finals.
• They have a record of two wins and two losses in the competition this far.
• Bulgaria swept three home matches in a row before losing to Azerbaijan on Wednesday in Baku.
Portugal vs. Azerbaijan
• Portugal count on the support of their fans to win their first match in this year’s European League.
• Azerbaijan, on the other hand, want to take another step towards the leadership in the pool where they have a record of three wins and one loss.
• The Portuguese block worked well against the Ukrainians. How will it stand when playing Azerbaijan?
Manuel Almeida, coach of Portugal: “We gave a more precise image of our value in Ukraine and the quality and level of our performance have been improving.”
Juliana Rosas, captain of Portugal, was born in Matosinhos, a city that breaths Volleyball and will host the next matches. “I hope many fans will come to support us and I am hoping that we can offer a match that is consistent with their support.”
Famil Aghayev, coach of Azerbaijan: “We continue the battle for the first place in the pool.”
Croatia vs. Hungary
• It is a repeat of the match from the 2nd leg, which Hungary won 3-1 at home in Budapest.
• Hungary currently top the charts in Pool B with the same number of wins and losses (three and one) and raking points (nine) than Finland.
• Croatia sit in third place on a record of two wins and two losses.
• Croatia’s Samanta Fabris is the top scorer across all pools on a tally of 87 points, 11 clear of Finland’s Piia Korhonen.
France vs. Finland
• France lost their fourth straight game in this Golden European League on Wednesday against Hungary, and are hoping to win the first one at home facing the leader of Pool B, Finland.
• France lost to Finland 3-0 on May 23 for the 2nd leg of the pool stage.
• Tickets are still available for this event.
Héléna Cazaute, outside hitter of France: “The most important thing will be to try and speak a lot while playing; that is essential, especially now. We are rebuilding this team and starting to finalise the details, which we were missing on Wednesday. For this upcoming game, we will definitely have to set foot on the court with a combative fighting spirit from the get-go!”
Juliette Fidon, outside hitter and captain of France: “The atmosphere in our group is nice, but we are still adapting since there is an important turnover. It is not always easy to find the right connections between players when you have played so rarely together, yet we are working to make it happen and we are hoping to get there soon.”
Elsa Descamps, middle blocker of France: “Again, we have had too little time to prep for this game; we will have to communicate a lot on the court, and above all remain clear-headed and focused all through this match. If we manage to make fewer unforced errors, which hurt us against Hungary, we will probably be closer to winning the match against Finland.”
Spain vs. Slovakia
• Spain have claimed their last four matches against Slovakia, including two from the pool stage of the 2017 European League.
• Spain and Slovakia lost their respective last matches in the pool to Belarus and Czech Republic.
• This is Spain’s last home match in the competition.
• The hosts are determined to raise the level of their performance as they prepare for the next international competitions.
• On Saturday, the city of Valladolid will be hosting a Pequevoley event as well, with participation of some 500 children, who will afterwards move to the competition hall to root for the Leonas del Voley.
Alba Sanchez, player of Spain: “We are ready for this fight. We have been working hard and well this week. This Wednesday we lost in the tiebreak but we could come back. I am confident in our possibilities to win against Slovakia.”
Mabel Caro Garcia, player of Spain: “We know we can win against Slovakia as we did in the two matches we played against them last year. We proved this Wednesday that the performance we want is within our reach. We are ready to battle face to face against a rival as tough as Slovakia.”
Czech Republic vs. Belarus
• The Czech Republic are the only team with a perfect record of four wins in as many matches they have contested in the competition this far.
• They lost their first and only set this far on Wednesday in the ‘derby’ with Slovakia in Bratislava.
• A home victory over Belarus would secure their spot in the Final Four in Budapest.
• Andrea Kossanyiova is their top scorer this far on 58 points.
• This is the last home match for the Czech Republic in this year’s European League.
Barbora Purchartová, captain of Czech Republic: “We are happy that we will be playing at home again. We are extremely motivated for our match against the team of Belarus. We have a lot to give them back from the last European Championship. We want to win in Jindřichův Hradec and secure our participation in to Final Four before our trip to Minsk next week.”
Zdeněk Pommer, head coach of Czech Republic: “The Belarusian team has been playing very well. We want to perform as best as we can. We will do our best to win before our home fans.”