Győr. On the eve of the very last stage of the 2017 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship finals in Hungary, the excitement is rising as everyone agrees that the teams that qualified for the semifinals are really the four best teams at the tournament. A press conference with some of the coaches and organisers was held in Győr on Friday afternoon.
“First, I would like to congratulate the first two teams from each pool for qualifying for the semifinals,” said Lubor Halanda, President of the #EuroVolleyU19M CEV Jury and Slovakian Volleyball Federation President. “I wish them good luck! We had the opportunity to see many high-performance matches in both pools and I do believe that this will be the case in the last two competition days. This tournament is a very important experience for the future stars of Volleyball. The organisation of this European Championship has also been at a very high level.”
“It is a pleasant feeling to once again be partners with the Slovakian Volleyball Federation – for the second time, after we organised last year’s European Championship for U19 women,” Zsolt Ludvig, Secretary General of the Hungarian Volleyball Federation, added. “What is unique this time is that the same hall will be used for the European Youth Olympic Festival in Győr in July. This makes this weekend very special for all eight teams that will be playing, because only seven of them will qualify for this event. I wish all the best to the participating teams and my biggest wish is that they all remain with the best memories from Győr and from Hungary.”
In the first of the two semifinals on Saturday, Pool I winners Russia will face Pool II runners-up Czech Republic at 18:00 local time at the Szechenyi Istvan University hall in Győr.
“It will be a fight between David and Goliath. We are not the favourites in this match,” Jiri Zach, coach of the Czech Republic, admitted. “When we travelled to Puchov, it was our dream to be here, in Győr, and we fulfilled our dream. But we will do the best we can to get into the medals.”
His Russian counterpart Andrey Nozdrin was quite laconic: “My comment is very short. We must fight for a place in the final and may the best team win.”
The second semifinal, scheduled for 20:30 in Győr, will feature the teams of Turkey, first-placed in Pool II, and Italy, second-placed in Pool I.
“The four best teams of the tournament have now qualified for the semifinals. I hope each team finds the place they deserve in the final standings. Good luck to all!” Turkey’s head coach Ali Ümit Hizal stated.
Before the two semifinals in the battle for medals, the two semifinals in the race for distributing the places from fifth to eighth will be held. On Saturday afternoon, Poland will face Finland at 13:00 and Belgium will lock horns with France at 15:30. The two winners of these games will qualify for the FIVB Volleyball Boys U19 World Championship Bahrain 2017 in August.
During the event a new partnership contract was signed by Zsolt Ludvig in the name of the Hungarian Volleyball Federation and the French company Gerflor, represented by Lionel Arlin, Sports Federations & Events Manager.
An interesting side event was also announced at the press conference. The media were invited to attend an exhibition Tennis doubles match in Győr on Sunday morning. Lubor Halanda and Zsolt Ludvig will team up on one side of the net to play against Hungarian Volleyball Federation President Ferenc Kovács and Hungarian National Olympic Committee Chairman Zsolt Borkai, 1988 Olympic gold medallist in gymnastics. After that, all four of them will attend the big final of the U19 European Championship.
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.