Győr. What a spectacular way to open the battles in Győr! The first match in Pool I at the Final Round of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Men was played between the two most decorated teams in the history of the competition and they did not let the high expectations down. Russia persevered to claim a 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-19, 16-25, 17-15) victory over Poland in a breath-taking five-set duel. In the second match of the pool, the inspired Hungarians could not please the home crowd with a win, as Belgium delivered a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-23) shutout. The last match of the day was another dramatic five-setter between two strong teams. After 3-2 (24-26, 25-15, 25-16, 19-25, 15-13) in the end, it was Italy that celebrated their first win at the competition.
In a very tight and competitive first set, where the Polish blockers eventually prevailed over the Russian attackers, Poland made a five-point run to turn things from 20-23 to 25-23 in their favour. Quite the opposite in the second set, it was the Russian blocks that made the difference, despite a good start for Poland, and the score was tied after 25-23. The next two sets were quite one-sided with Russia leading the way to a 25-19 win in the third and Poland levelling the match with a 25-16 victory in the fourth. In the deciding fifth set, Poland were up front most of the time, but wasted a double match point before a spectacular kill block by Vladislav Spiridonov stamped the Russian triumph at 17-15. Filip Grygiel piled up 24 points for Poland to become the best scorer of the match. Spiridonov was the winning side’s most prolific player with 17 points, while his teammate Sapozhkov was awarded as player of the match by the organising Hungarian Volleyball Federation.
Szymon Jezierski, captain of Poland: “We really wanted to win this match. We are disappointed but we have to continue and play as well as we can.”
Maciej Zendel, coach of Poland: “I am sad that we lost the game. It was a very difficult and a very good match. We made too many mistakes.”
Stanislav Antonov, captain of Russia: “The start was very difficult, but during the game we became stronger and stronger and finally we were able to join forces and win.”
Maxim Sapozhkov, player of Russia, MVP of the match: “It was a very hard game. Our task was difficult. We did what our coach told us to do, so we could beat the opponent.”
Andrey Nozdrin, coach of Russia: “Honestly, I am not able to think or talk right now. I am too excited and happy at the moment!”
Belgium’s prolific attacks made up for the many unforced errors the team made in the first set and resulted in a 25-21 win. The Belgians were the dominant side throughout the second set. This time the Hungarians were taking more risks in offense and making more mistakes as well to allow the opponents to double their lead after 25-19. The third set was the most competitive one. In the conclusive moments, after 22-22, Belgium showed more character and signed off with a 25-23 win and a shutout of the home team. Matthieu Vanneste and Martin Lallemand scored 14 points each for the winners to top the charts of the match and the latter was declared MVP by the organisers. Kristof Horvath was Hungary’s best scorer with 13 points.
Dániel Flachner, player of Hungary: “Obviously, we are disappointed. We wanted to perform better, but we are not broken after this loss. We are aware of our mistakes and we are ready to correct them. We have to improve in everything. The start will have to be braver and our performance must be more precise.”
Tibor Tomanóczy, coach of Hungary: “Unfortunately, the team made silly mistakes and that can be the reason for this result. The boys were nervous – it was their first European Championship match ever.”
Matthieu Vanneste, captain of Belgium: “I believe we played well today. We did not let the opponent team catch up in the game. We are very happy about the match.”
Mieke Moyaert, coach of Belgium: “The players were a little bit nervous. The good start was very important for us. After leading 2-0 we calmed down a little. Now we can concentrate on the next game and grow in the tournament.”
Performing better from the serving line, Bulgaria were able to cancel the five-point deficit they had at 8-13 in the first set and emerge with a narrow 26-24 win. Italy responded with a lot of efficiency in offense and complete domination on the court throughout the second set. Captain Daniele Lavia contributed seven points to the final 25-15, shaping it off with a brilliant ace for the last point. The Bulgarians started making too many mistakes in the third set and allowed the opponents to maintain a tight grip and take the lead after 25-16. The Balkan squad improved their reception in the fourth set, while substitute Dobrin Vasilev and Asparuh Asparuhov were on fire in offense. Bulgaria broke away between the two technical time-outs and never looked back – 25-19. In the deciding set Bulgaria could not hold on to a three-point advantage they had at 4-1. In the conclusive moments of the match, the Italian team showed more character and with great overall effort by Lavia, the Azzurrini came back to win the tie-breaker by 15-13 and the match by 3-2. Daniele Lavia topped the charts with a fantastic 24 points to be honoured as player of the match. Georgi Petrov and Asparuh Asparuhov scored 18 points each for Bulgaria.
Konstantin Nechev, captain of Bulgaria: “The match was very good and really close. Italy have a very strong team. The key was their serving – we could not receive it well enough.”
Hristo Georgiev, coach of Bulgaria: “The couple of mistakes we made at the end made the difference in this match. Italy are a tactically well-constructed squad and it is very difficult to play against such a team. Despite the loss, I cannot be unhappy because we managed to come back into the game. Now we need to recover quickly, because tomorrow we have an important match against the home team.”
Daniele Lavia, captain of Italy and MVP of the match: “Bulgaria played very well. They are a strong team with a great spirit. Our task is to concentrate on the rallies and continue winning.”
Mario Barbiero, coach of Italy: “The first match of every competition is hard. Bulgaria are a strong team. It was a very good match and, of course, we are happy and satisfied.”
All matches of the tournament are scheduled for live streaming on LAOLA1.tv.
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