Puchov. Finland became the last team to secure their ticket to Győr for the last stage of the Final Round of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Men. They needed one set in their last match in Pool II, against France, to make sure they become unreachable for Romania and that is exactly what they got – 1-3 (19-25, 28-26, 18-25, 12-25). In the second match of the day in Puchov, the Czech Republic gave Romania a 3-0 (25-21, 25-10, 25-20) shutout to qualify for the semifinals. Finally, Turkey joined them with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-13) victory over Slovakia, topping the final pool standings, while leaving the home team winless and France out of medal contention.
France dominated in the first set and won it by 25-19. Both teams played very well in defence and the spectators saw many long and interesting rallies. The second set was very close and Finland finally won it by 28-26. The next two sets were under the control of the French players who took another three points in the tournament and kept their chances to go into the semifinals. Célestin Cardin was the best scorer of the match with 23 points. Niko Suihkonen collected 16 points for Finland.
Rémi Bassereau, player of France: “We did not play well in the second set. We made a lot of mistakes, but we are glad that we have won the game for three points. It is important. Now we will wait for the other results.”
Slimane Belmadi, coach of France: “We did a good job today and now we will wait to see if it is enough to go to the semifinals. What is important is that we still have a chance to qualify for the World Championship – this is our goal. We played well today, except in the second set, where our young players made a lot of mistakes. We had many ups and downs. I preferred to win in three sets, but a three-point victory is also important.”
Niko Suihkonen, player of Finland: “France was better today, especially at blocking, but you could see it – both teams were quite tired. But let’s say in every game one is better than the other. Today it was France.”
Pertti Honkanen, coach of Finland: “We lost today, but I can see improvement in my team. Today the biggest difference was the attack. It was great to be here in Puchov, because the atmosphere at the hall was incredible and now we are looking forward to Győr.”
The opening set was close in the first half, but then the young Czechs showed more quality and won by 25-21. They won the second set by an easy 25-10 after total domination. In the third set, Romania came back from a five-point deficit to only one (17-18), but the Czech Republic managed the final parts of the game well and celebrated their advancement to the semifinals. Marek Sotola was the best scorer of the match with 12 points. Alexandru Rata collected five points to become Romania’s most prolific player in this game.
Ovidiu Costin Darlatzi, player of Romania: “This tournament was a great occasion for me. I am glad that I met many great players here and I will remember each one of them.”
Stelian Ghitun, coach of Romania: “We played very badly at this tournament, but I saw on what we have to work in the future. The first thing is reception. Then we can achieve more in international competitions. Congratulations to Slovakia for the organisation of a great and high-level tournament!”
Ondrej Piskacek, captain of the Czech Republic: “I cannot find the words… We are very happy! It is a great success for our country. We trained hard before this tournament and this is the prize for that. We will try to win a medal in Győr, although we know it will be difficult.”
Jiri Zach, coach of the Czech Republic: “It was a psychologically difficult match. We needed three points and Romania had no motivation. But they did not give up and fought. We put them under pressure and we managed to reach the semifinals. We are very happy. It is already more than what we planned, but we will do our best in Győr as well. It is important that we have also qualified for the World Championship.”
The first set was very close, but, thanks to good serving from Batuhan Avci, Turkey made four points in a row from 21-21 and won the first set by 25-21. After that there was only one team on the court. Turkey won next two sets very easily – 25-14 and 25-13 – and confirmed the first place in Pool II. Batuhan Avci was the best scorer of the match with 18 points. Nicolas Ondrus tallied 9 points for Slovakia.
Filip Macuha, player of Slovakia: “The first set was OK. We played well and the game was levelled. But then we had big problems in reception and lost heavily. We are disappointed.”
Peter Kalny, coach of Slovakia: “It was a heavy loss. We played well in the first set, but after that we were humbled by their serves. The Turkish team is strong, but we should have played better. We lost all matches at the tournament and it is disappointing. The four matches were OK, but today’s loss was ugly.”
Adis Lagumdzija, player of Turkey: “Every day we played better and better at this tournament and I am so happy that we move to Győr from the first place. I am looking forward to a good match against Italy. We want to go to the final.”
Umit Hizal, coach of Turkey: “We had lost the first match of this tournament against the Czechs and we did not expect that. It surprised us, but afterwards we have shown real power. This was the first step for us. The second target for us is the medal. Slovakia is a very green country, full of nature, and we are leaving with good memories.”
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.