Púchov. Turkey won the very first set at the Final Round of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Men, but then the Czech Republic turned things around to win the very first match by 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-16). The second game in Puchov was also a four-setter with France managing a 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 25-15) victory over hosts Slovakia. In the last Pool II match of the day, Finland were quick to dismiss Romania with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-17) shutout.
The Czech team caused the first surprise result in Puchov as they beat Turkey in four sets. The slight favourite of the match started well and won the opening set by 25-22, but after that the young Czechs dominated on the court and were better in every statistical aspect of the game. With Puchov located close to the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the Czech team felt almost at home, enjoying some support from their fans on the stands. They showed more emotions on the court and deserved their first victory in the tournament. Outside spiker Jan Svoboda was the best scorer of the game with 22 points for the winning team. Batuhan Avci was Turkey’s top scorer with 14 points.
Jan Svoboda, player of the Czech Republic: “Turkey started very well, mainly on the serve. In the beginning we had some troubles, but afterwards we were getting better and better and we won. It was a strong opponent and I am very glad that we won the first match at this championship.”
Jiri Zach, coach of the Czech Republic: “We started a little nervous and our opponent made no errors in the first part of the opening set. But after that we showed more emotions and we were the better team on the court technically. We were better in attack and it was the key factor. My players surprised me that they were able to hold high level of the game throughout the match. We started well, but tomorrow we will play against Finland and it will be very tough.”
Onur Cukur, captain of Turkey: “We could not show our best today. We are much more than this. First matches are always hard to play. I am sure that we will make a brand new start with the match against France tomorrow.”
Ali Ümit Hizal, coach of Turkey: “We wanted to start to the finals with a win but we could not do it. The first set was quite good for us. We found chances to do what we wanted but after that we could not carry the game on to the other sets. It is always hard to play the first matches in these tournaments, but we have a chance to change the situation. We have a match against France tomorrow. We will try our best to make a new start with a win.”
The first two sets were very close. Supported by home crowd, the Slovakian team played a good game against the big favourite France. Slovakia had a 22-20 lead in the first set, but could not hold on to it and France came from behind for a 25-23 win. The second set was also very close, but middle blocker Filip Macuha finished it with ace and Slovakia won by 25-23. The French team found their rhythm in the next parts of the game and after 25-19 and 25-15 eventually won in four sets. Outside spiker Remi Bassereau led the scorers with 25 points for the winners. On Slovakia’s side, Erik Watzka and Samuel Jurik scored 12 points each.
Erik Watzka, player of Slovakia: “France’s team was the favourite and they played better, but I think we played a good match against them. It is a pitty that we lost the first set, because we were in the lead.”
Peter Kalny, coach of Slovakia: “I am satisfied with the first three sets. France were better at the net, their outside spikers showed more routine. The first set was close – one ball decided it. We played some good Volleyball in the second and the third sets. Although we lost, I hope we will continue like this.”
Remi Bassereau, player of France: “I think that today we just made fewer mistakes than Slovakia and that is the reason why we won. We made lot of mistakes, but Slovakia made more.”
Slimane Belmadi, coach of France: “It was the first match and against the home team. It is always difficult at a big competition like this to make the boys be concentrated in the first match. In the beginning we made a lot of mistakes. Today the reception was not our best, but we were pretty good at attack. It is great to play in such an atmosphere – it does not matter if the fans are cheering for one or the other team – the important thing is that they are noisy and it makes the players give their best in the game.”
The first set was close, but the young Finns made fewer mistakes in the final part and won by 25-20. The second and the third sets were under the complete control of the Finnish team and the northern Europeans shaped up a straight-setter after 25-13 and 25-17. During the match the Romanian player Vlad Cristian Curuia-Pop was hit hard with the ball and unfortunately had to be taken to hospital for a check-up. The best scorer of the match was Niko Suihkonen from Finland, who collected 13 points. Romania’s Alexandru Rata finished with 8.
Anton Välimaa, captain of Finland: “We played really well, but we can still do better. We had a strong serve, good blocks and we played our game today. We had our fans on the stands, so we felt like home.”
Pertti Honkanen, coach of Finland: “The result seems easy, but the match was not so easy. It is never easy. Everybody is still shaking, but our self-confidence is very good. We had some good serving and got the break points we needed to win the game.”
Stelian Ghitun, coach of Romania: “We played very badly. Finland played very fast and surprised us. We had bad reception, but we hope that we will change something and play better. Our injured player feels better, but it is better to go to hospital to check if everything is OK.”
All matches of the tournament are scheduled for live streaming on LAOLA1.tv.
Engage with the U19 European Championship on social media by using the competition’s official hashtag #EuroVolleyU19M.