Romania, Turkey recover with first victories in Puchov; Czechs cruise to another win

Puchov.  Turkey and Romania were able to recover from Saturday’s losses with their first victories at the Final Round of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Men. On the second competition day in Pool II in Puchov, Turkey scored an impressive 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 28-26) win against France with quite a comeback in the third set, and Romania survived a dramatic five-setter against the home side of Slovakia to earn a 3-2 (23-25, 25-16, 25-18, 16-25, 15-10) victory. In the last game of the day, the Czech Republic mastered a 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-18) shutout of Finland to claim their second victory in two matches.

Turkey vs. France 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 28-26)

After Saturday’s loss to the Czech Republic, the team mentored by Ali Ümit Hizal started Sunday’s match very well and won the opening two sets. France came back in the third to open a wide gap (16-9, 21-14, 23-18) but thanks to a great effort by Batuhan Avci from the serving line, Turkey managed an incredible comeback, levelling the score and finally winning by 28-26. Avci was the best scorer of the game with 22 points. Célestin Cardin collected 15 points for France.

Onur Cukur, captain of Turkey: “We started the tournament badly. We knew that we had to play much better today. We showed that when we concentrate, we can do everything. We showed passion today, we won the match and we are very happy.”

Ali Ümit Hizal, coach of Turkey: “It was a very important match for us. We did everything right – something we could not do yesterday. We are happy, but our team can play on a higher level than what we showed today. We were down in the third set, but I was sure that we would win the game, because I saw passion in my players.”

Lucas Soldner, captain of France: “Turkey had better blocking. In the last set we were in the lead, but we lost. Turkey had more luck in the end. After we lost the last set, the coach told us that this was the kind of match we should have won and he was right.”

Slimane Belmadi, coach of France: “In the first two sets we made almost no blocks. We cannot win when we make errors and do not block. I cannot tell you what the problem was that we could not win the last set.”

Romania vs. Slovakia 3-2 (23-25, 25-16, 25-18, 16-25, 15-10)

Slovakia won the opening part by 25-23, but the next two sets were under the control of Romania. They served and blocked very well and took the lead after 25-16 and 25-18. In the noisy atmosphere the home team came back with a 25-16 win in the fourth set, but Romania eventually won the tie-breaker by 15-10 and with it their first game at the tournament. Romania had 19 kill blocks and the best scorer of the match was their middle blocker Bela Florian Bartha with 20 points. Samuel Jurik collected 19 points for Slovakia.

Ovidiu Costin Darlaczi, captain of Romania: “Today we had better reception and better blocking than yesterday. The coach told us before the fifth set that we should smile and we should play and have fun on the court and it went well. I hope we will improve our reception, we can do it better.”

Stelian Ghitun, coach of Romania: “After the bad beginning, today we played better than yesterday. We had great blocking. Before the fifth set I told the players that they are great and they should have self-confidence, and we won.”

Jan Jendrejcak, player of Slovakia: “We were bad at reception and hence our attack was very weak. We came back, forced the fifth set, but finally we lost the match and we are very sad. Tomorrow is our next match against the Czech Republic and we will do our best. We have great fans; we want to thank them.”

Peter Kalny, coach of Slovakia: “We played very badly in the second and the third sets. We came back, but throughout the tie-breaker we were behind. The Romanians played more bravely and it was the key to the game. Our attack was very weak. It is not possible to win with these numbers.”

Czech Republic vs. Finland 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-18)

The Czech Republic collected another three points after a straight-set victory over Finland. The northern European side was in the lead for only a little while in the first set, but after that the young Czechs were all over the court and showed another great performance in the tournament. They established complete control to cruise to 25-20, 25-20 and 25-18 for a speedy victory. The Czechs were led by Marek Sotola who scored 20 points. Matias Sosunoff was the best scorer for Finland with 10 points.

Marek Sotola, player of the Czech Republic: “It was a fantastic match. We played as a team, concentrated from start to finish. We were self-confident after yesterday’s win against Turkey. We have two wins and six points, but we have to continue to perform like this. The tournament is long.”

Jiri Zach, coach of the Czech Republic: “We won in three sets, but it was a tough match. For me this is a big victory because we lost heavily to Finland two years ago and now we are better. We have won two matches. It is a great start to the tournament, but we have to go step by step. Tomorrow we will play a derby against Slovakia. I think the hall will be packed and it will be difficult.”

Matias Sosunoff, player of Finland: “Our weakness today was the reception. The Czechs had very good blocking. We just need to play better tomorrow.”

Pertti Honkanen, coach of Finland: “Today the difference was on the opposite’s position. The weak point was our blocking and the Czech opposite Sotola created problems to us. However, tomorrow we should try it again and play better. I always say to the boys – we get what we earned.”

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.