Russia win clash of titans to stay unbeaten

  Győr.  Belgium got back on the winning track at the Final Round of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Men. On the third competition day in Pool I, they scored their second victory of the tournament delivering a 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-20) to still winless Bulgaria. After that, Poland disappointed the home crowd with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-14) shutout of Hungary, scoring their first win in Győr. In the last game before Tuesday’s rest day, Russian won the clash of titans with Italy by 3-0 (25-17, 27-25, 25-17) to remain the only yet unbeaten team in the pool.

Bulgaria vs. Belgium 0-3 (19-25, 21-25, 20-25)

Despite an early Bulgarian 3-0 lead, Belgium were quick to recover and gradually gained complete control on the court towards a 25-19 win of the first set. Similarly, in the second set Bulgaria wasted a four-point advantage they had at 6-2 and 8-4 to allow the Belgians a speedy comeback. Coach Mieke Moyaert’s boys kept the pressure through the end of the set and after 25-21 doubled their lead. Set 3 was very competitive through 14-14, with frequent switches in the lead. In the conclusive moments, it was once again Belgium, with Berre Peters spear-heading their attack, that showed more character for a 25-20 win. Peters became the best scorer of the match with 15 points. Asparuh Asparuhov topped the Bulgarian scorers with eight points. Belgium’s libero Tim Verstraete was awarded as MVP of the match.

Dobrin Vasilev, player of Bulgaria: “Honestly, I have no idea what happened. Our game was awful today. I am speechless. We were not confident enough. We will try to win the next games.”

Hristo Georgiev, coach of Bulgaria: “First, I would like to congratulate the team of Belgium, because they outplayed us in today’s game. In the key moments they showed better tactical maturity and more character. We were in the lead in some of the sets, but could not hold on to our advantage. Once again, we made too many errors in reception, serving and offence. Belgium’s strong serves were probably the key to their victory.”

Tim Verstraete, player of Belgium and MVP of the match: “The team played a very decent game. Of course, we are very happy now. We did not feel pressure before the game. We were hoping for this result.”

Brecht Van Kerckhove, assistant coach of Belgium: “I think the team played a very good game. The defence made the difference. Probably they were more tired than us. The players followed the game plan. This win gives us a very good feeling for the following games.”

Poland vs. Hungary 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-14)

The first set was quite competitive through 9-8 in favour of Poland. After that, the Poles stepped up their serving and spiking efforts, broke away to a 15-9 lead and never looked back while cruising to a 25-15 landslide. Improving further in both serving and blocking, coach Maciej Zendel’s squad continued to dominate throughout the second set for an even more impressive 25-13 win. The home team tried to fight back in the third set, but between the two technical time-outs the Poles once again opened a wide gap. With the help of five kill blocks in the set, Poland cruised to a final score of 25-14 to close the match at 3-0. Patryk Czyrnianski contributed 14 points to the victory and became the top scorer of the match, while Kristof Horvath was Hungary’s most prolific player with 9 points. The host national federation awarded Poland’s Filip Grygiel as the best player of the match.

Szymon Jeziersky, captain of Poland: “We played very well today. The key was our serves and blocks. The team was working together.”

Sebastian Pawlik, assistant coach of Poland: “Congratulations to the boys! Today they played much better than yesterday. It was an important win for us. We had very good serves and our blocking was stable as well.”

Barna Szabo, player of Hungary: “Although we knew the Polish team was strong we still wanted to win. The team could not function together as we did yesterday, so we could not repeat our performance.”

Tibor Tomanoczy, coach of Hungary: “Today we started the game without spirit. We could not spike as hard as we did yesterday against Bulgaria. If we had played as well as we did yesterday, the match would have been closer.”

Russia vs. Italy 3-0 (25-17, 27-25, 25-17)

In the first set Italy held up until 9-8, but the Russians were far superior in serving and blocking to cruise to a comfortable 25-17 win. Despite a 4-0 early Russian lead, part 2 was way tighter. The Italians improved their reception and blocking to catch up and prompt an exciting ending. They were the first to reach set point, but failed to convert it and Russia snatched the set with a 27-25 close. The third set was all about Russia again. Andrey Nozdrin’s players continued their great blocking actions and played better and better in attack to master one more 25-17 and win the match in straight sets. Vladislav Spiridonov topped the scorers’ charts with 16 points, while Diego Cantagalli’s 10 points made him Italy’s best scorer of the match. The MVP award went to Russia’s setter Egor Krechetov.

Stanislav Antonov, captain of Russia: “We have followed the game plan. Everything that our coach said was very helpful in every situation. We had to play aggressively to win this important match.”

Andrey Nozdrin, coach of Russia: “It was a very, very important match. Our pool is really strong. We are fighting for a medal – for first or second place. Tomorrow we have a free day so we can prepare for the following matches.”

Davide Gardini, player of Italy: “The key to Russia’s success today was the good serving and the perfect blocks.”

Mario Barbiero, coach of Italy: “Russia have a really strong team. They played very well and showed high-level professional Volleyball.”

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.