Home team triumphant with first victory; merciless Russia, Italy stamp second wins

Győr.  Russia achieved their second victory at the Final Round of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Men. In Sunday’s first match in Győr, coach Andrey Nozdrin’s squad mastered a 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-22) straight-setter against Pool I leaders after the first day, Belgium. After them, hosts Hungary secured their first win in Pool I, persevering for a 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 25-23, 16-25, 15-9) close of their tough encounter with Bulgaria. In the last match of the day, the expectations for a titanic battle did not come true as Italy crushed Poland with a merciless 3-0 (25-9, 25-21, 25-15) shutout.

Belgium vs. Russia 0-3 (20-25, 19-25, 22-25)

Belgium started the match very well and piled up a substantial early lead (4-0), but with some fantastic blocking efforts by all their players Russia not only gradually caught up, but closed the set with a five-point run at 25-20. Taking advantage of the increased number of Belgium’s unforced errors, the Russians stayed in control through most of the second set and finished it off at 25-19 with another five points in a row. After 5-5 in set 3 Russia scored three times in a row and never allowed Belgium to catch up again. Vladislav Spiridonov put on a fantastic effort in offense and himself closed it off at 25-22 with a back-row spike. He was the best scorer of the match with 16 points, closely followed by Belgium’s Berre Peters with 15. Russia’s captain Stanislav Antonov was pronounced MVP of the match by the organisers from the Hungarian Volleyball Federation.

Matthieu Vanneste, captain of Belgium: “We played well, but at some points the Russians managed to surprise us. Today we showed that we are not ‘just’ Belgium. We can really fight against bigger countries with a solid Volleyball history. We keep the good spirit and want the Volleyball world to count us as a future Volleyball nation.”

Mieke Moyaert, coach of Belgium: “I think we showed that we deserve to be here, at the European Championship. We started well and we were aggressive in the first set. At times we lost our patience and we were in a rush to make points. Although we did not always agree with the referee, we have to accept his decisions.”

Stanislav Antonov, captain of Russia and MVP of the game: “Our start was not very good, but we really wanted to win. Tomorrow we have a very difficult match and now we have to focus on that.”

Andrey Nozdrin, coach of Russia: “We had problems coming back after some technical breaks. At the beginning, we were not aggressive enough. Unfortunately, we made a lot of serving mistakes, and we have to improve in this.”

Hungary vs. Bulgaria 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 25-23, 16-25, 15-9)

With some great spiking efforts from Marcell Pesti, Hungary were in the lead through most of the otherwise very tight first set and even had the first set point, but in the conclusive moments the Bulgarians were more focused and Asparuh Asparuhov put the ball on the floor to close the set at 27-25. In the second set, it was Bulgaria that had the initiative through the second technical time-out, but then started making far too many mistakes. Hungary scored seven in a row with Bence Szabo behind the serving line to flip it to a 20-16 lead before a 25-19 close. In a very competitive roller-coaster third set, this time Hungary kept more concentrated in the money time and managed to achieve a 25-23 win. The Bulgarian setter Dimo Dimov was on fire in the fourth set, also contributing in defense, offense, serving and blocking. The Balkan side was well in control and tied the match after 25-16. Inspired by the noisy support from the stands, the home guys came back strong in the deciding set. Their opponents were making too many mistakes and the Hungarians closed the deal with a 15-9 win. Asparuh Asparuhov was the most prolific player of the match with 20 points for Bulgaria, while Marcell Pesti was the best contributor to the winning team with 19. His teammate Daniel Flachner was declared MVP of the game.

Bence Szabo, player of Hungary: “Yesterday I did not start, so today I had to prove that the team can count on me. We started very strong, energised and aggressive and we managed to keep this spirit. We played as a team and that gave us confidence.”

Tibor Tomanoczy, coach of Hungary: “I am very proud of the boys. It was an amazing match against the strong team of Bulgaria. We played well today. I believe the spectators could enjoy this game.”

Dimo Dimov, player of Bulgaria: “We could have played better for sure and we were not lucky as well. Our attacks were not that strong. The opponents served very well and our reception was weak this time.”

Hristo Georgiev, coach of Bulgaria: “I was quite sure this would be a difficult match for us, because, after losing yesterday, Hungary had to give their best today and they did. Unfortunately, we made too many mistakes, especially in defence and serving.”

Italy vs. Poland 3-0 (25-9, 25-21, 25-15)

The first set was completely one-sided. Italy cruised to a landslide 25-9 win to take the lead in the match. Filip Grygiel stepped up his spiking efforts in the second set in an attempt to change the course of the game. His seven points, however, were not enough to counter Italy’s edge in blocking and serving and after 25-21 the Azzurrini were already up by two sets. The third set was a true Italian block fest! Coach Mario Barbiero’s players built a giant wall over the net, which navigated them to a 25-15 win, shaped up with Davide Gardini’s powerful blast through the middle for the final point. Middle blocker Lorenzo Cortesia’s impeccable spiking performance in the match earned him the MVP honour, while his Italian teammates Giovanni Maria Gargiulo and Daniele Lavia shared the best scorer honours with 11 points each. Filip Grygiel tallied nine points to become Poland’s most prolific player in the match.

Lorenzo Cortesia, player of Italy, MVP of the match: “It was a really tough game today because Poland is a really great team. The key to the victory was in our serving and our blocking. We are really happy.”

Mario Barbiero, coach of Italy: “Our team played very well today. We were very strong in blocking. It was extraordinary and that additionally motivated my team. I am satisfied, because this was an important match.”

Szymon Jezierski, captain of Poland: “We have a strange feeling. We came here for a medal and now we lost our second match. But we are still alive and we will do our best in the following days as well.”

Maciej Zendel, coach of Poland: “The Italian team showed us how to play Volleyball. They played much better than us. I believe the Italian team is the strongest one of the tournament.”

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.