France, Czech Republic win five-set dramas in Puchov; Turkey edge out Finland

Puchov.  France improved to a 2-1 win-loss record at the Final Round of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Men, after claiming a dramatic 3-2 (25-27, 25-16, 25-21, 23-25, 19-17) victory over Romania in the first Pool II match of the third competition day. The second match also offered a five-set thriller between neighbours Slovakia and Czech Republic. In a packed STC Arena, the Czechs pulled off a 3-2 (25-20, 25-22, 20-25, 20-25, 15-12) win against the home team to stay unbeaten in the tournament. The last match of the day started really late and spread over four sets. Turkey gained their second win in Puchov with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20) against Finland.

France vs. Romania 3-2 (25-27, 25-16, 25-21, 23-25, 19-17)

The first set was very close and finally Romania won it by 27-25. France recovered, improving in serving and attack, and dominated on the court to reverse the course of the match with 25-16 in the second set and 25-21 in the third. They had a 19-15 lead in the fourth set, but the Romanian players came back for a 25-23 win. They also took a 10-7 advantage in the tie-breaker set, but eventually France emerged victorious well into the extra-time, at 19-17. Célestin Cardin was the best scorer for France with a fantastic 30 points, while Ovidiu Costin Darlaczi collected 24 points for Romania.

Célestin Cardin, player of France: “The beginning was very bad, but afterwards my teammates helped me feel very confident. To us, it is very important that we won the fifth set in this game.”

Slimane Belmadi, coach of France: “Today we gave many points to Romania. In the beginning we made a lot of mistakes. However, in the fifth set I saw that the boys really wanted to win. We felt the team spirit on the bench. The boys felt it too and that decided the outcome.”

Ovidiu Costin Darlaczi, player of Romania: “It was a crazy match. We were down in the fourth set, but we came back to lead by 10-7 in the fifth. It is a pity that we were not able to finish it. But we play better and better here and that is good. We played two five-setters in a row and we are a little bit tired, but we trained hard for this tournament and we are ready.”

Stelian Ghitun, coach of Romania: “It was a game with a lot of fire on the court and unfortunately we had less luck in the end. We lost, but I want to congratulate my players, because they showed good Volleyball. France are a very strong team and we played a levelled match against them. We hope that we will qualify for the final four.

Slovakia vs. Czech Republic 2-3 (20-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-20, 12-15)

The Czechs won the opening two sets by 25-20 and 25-22, but the Slovakian players came back and levelled the score with two wins by 25-20 in the third and the fourth. The tie-breaker was very close, but the Czech Republic made two kill blocks in the end to emerge victorious with a 15-12 final score. Three players from the Czech team – Jan Svoboda, Lukas Vasina and Marek Sotola – scored 15 points each, while Slovakia’s Samuel Jurik topped the charts of the match with 17 points.

Pavol Kurej, player of Slovakia: “It was a good match with a great atmosphere. We came back after two sets, but we needed more luck in the tie-breaker. Our chances to qualify to Győr are small, but if there is a chance, we will do everything to reach that goal.”

Peter Kalny, coach of Slovakia: “We were leading by six points in the second set and it is a pity that we were not able to win it. We came back, but the tie-breaker is a lottery. It was a good performance from us with a bad ending, but I have to say, that the Czech team is very strong. Our chances to advance to Győr are slim, but we will fight.”

Ondrej Piskacek, captain of the Czech Republic: “Today we had better stamina. This match was about psychology and I feel very thankful that we won. I want to thank all my teammates.”

Jiri Zach, coach of the Czech Republic: “We played well in the first set. In the second we had luck. But when the Slovaks kept the pressure on us, we just collapsed. In the fifth set it was all about experience.”

Finland vs. Turkey 1-3 (20-25, 22-25, 25-22, 20-25)

Turkey had the first two sets under the control. They served and attacked very well and built a comfortable lead after 25-20 and 25-22. In the third set the Turks wasted a six-point lead to lose by 22-25. But they concentrated again from the start of the fourth set, managed a 25-20 win and claimed their second consecutive victory in the tournament. Adis Lagumdzija was the best scorer of the match with 27 points. Aaro Nikula tallied 16 points for Finland.

Aaro Nikula, player of Finland: “Today our blocking and our defence were the problem. We had no discipline in defence. We need to play harder and with more discipline.”

Pertti Honkanen, coach of Finland: “The opponent was very strong today. We were not able to make place for our attack. At a tournament like this, it is always motivating to play for the best result. The match against Slovakia is waiting for us. We have a free day now and we will do our best on Wednesday.”

Onur Cukur, captain of Turkey: “It was an important match for us. We started well, but we did not feel comfortable, because the match started very late. After that we played our game and we are happy with another victory.”

Umit Hizal, coach of Turkey: “We could not play at high level today. Our important players did not play well – they can do better. Finland played really well.Their defence was really good and I want to congratulate them. We are satisfied with the victory.”

All matches of the tournament are scheduled for live streaming on

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