Italy and Russia to fight for the Gold at 2019 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Sunday 9th of September 2018

Tirana, Albania, September 8, 2018. Italy and Russia are the two teams that will lock horns to decide who will grab the gold medals at the 2018 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship – Women. On Saturday Italy beat Turkey 3-1 in a match that lasted 95 minutes. The Azzurrine, who finished fifth in the #EuroVolleyU19W in Slovakia and Hungary in 2016, were better than their opponents in the decisive moments, but gave away one set after a temporary breakdown.  In the second semi-final match the reigning champions from Russia, and Poland, who in 2016 did not even make it to the Final Round of #EuroVolleyU19W, delivered a real Volleyball drama. Eventually the players headed by Alexander Karikov grabbed a 3-2 win in a match filled with many turnarounds. Turkey and Poland will try to make amends for their semi-final losses when playing for the bronze medals on Sunday afternoon. 

In the battle for 5-8 place Germany claimed a 3-1 over Belarus, while Serbia emerged victorious with the same result vs. the Netherlands. This way, on Sunday the German players will meet the Serbians in a re-match of the group stage, but this time both teams will be fighting directly for the fifth place. 

Italy vs. Turkey 3-1 (25-15, 10-25, 25-22, 25-22)

Although both Italy and Turkey entered the court motivated and the game was a close race at its beginning, after the sixth point the Azzurrine were able to take the lead (11-6), thus forcing the Turkish head coach Sahin Catma to take a timeout. Despite that, the Italian players continued to be better in attack (16-8). Turkey’s reception was suffering as well and the Italians opened the match with a comprehensive 25-15 win. 
Things on the court were totally different in the second set, as Turkey took the initiative from the very first moment and did not let their opponents any chances to respond. The Turkish girls were performing well at the net and this led to a storming 25-10 in their favour. 
Both teams showed an equal play in the third set, but impeccable in attack, Loveth Oghosasere Omoruyi from Italy did lead her team towards the win of the set. 
Although Italy were chasing their opponents most of the time in the fourth set, they came back for 18-17 after a nice performance on the service line, which made it difficult for Turkey’s reception. The Italians too had some difficulties on that component in the last minutes and the result was tied (21-21). However, Valeria Battista was great in attack and the Italian side emerged victorious at 25-22.  

Massimo Bellano, head coach of Italy: “Half of the mission is completed, but we played a very good first set, too good to be true, maybe. In the second set we showed a terrible game, but I think we are neither the team of the first set, nor the team of the second one. I think that the play that we showed in the fourth set is the closest to what we are as a team. But I am happy, for the girls, for all of them, they gave everything and we won. But if we are to win in the final, we will have to give something more than everything.”

Sahin Catma, head coach of Turkey: “We did not hit the ball hard enough, we did not attack well. We did not play well up to the 20th point, the spikers didn t kill the ball, didn t kill the game. Italy, on the other hand, outclassed us in the critical moments of the game and thus won it. Tomorrow we will aim to do what we didn t do today and win the bronze medal at least.” 

Russia vs. Poland 3-2 (19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 17-15)

Poland started better in the first set and Russia were struggling to find their rhythm. Although the players around Alexander Karikov tried to react, the Polish side were too strong in all the components and deservedly opened the second semi-final match in their favour. 
Again Poland were leading in the first moments of the second set, but with the result being 11-11 it seemed that Russia were slowly starting to find their game. They even took a small lead at 14-12, but Poland were breathing down their necks. However, Yulia Brovkina on the service line made it difficult for Poland’s reception and Russia tied the game. 
Russia showed better skills in the beginning of the third set and with the result being 8-3, the Polish head coach Waldemar Kawka took a timeout. It worked as the Polish players scored six points in a row and the play got more intense, point-for-point until the last minutes, but Russia found a way to emerge victorious.
Poland were leading in the fourth set and while trailing at 12-16, the Russian coach called a timeout. However, it did not work out fine and the Polish girls were getting closer to bringing the matchup into a tiebreak, which eventually they did. 
Poland started very strong in the decisive fifth set, storming out for 3-0 and 5-1 in their favour. However, the Russian players were fighting for each point and in the end of the match the spectactors in ‘Feti Borova’ sport hall witnessed some great reallies for 14-14 and 15-15. With the result being 16-15 for Russia, the Polish player Aleksandra Gryka got injured. The Russian side were able to close the set at 17-15 and proceed to the final match of #EuroVolleyU19W.  
Magdalena Stysiak from Poland was the standout player of this match, putting a haul of 34 points to her name. 

Alexander Karikov, head coach of Russia: “We prepared ourselves for a difficult game, but somewhere, somehow I made a mistake with my starting line-up. But you can never predict how your players will react. Anyway, in the fifth set, my team showed character coming back and I want to thank them.”

Ireneusz Waleczek, assistant coach of Poland: “It s a pity, because every time when we played in attack, we won the point, but we made too many mistakes and Russia punished us for this. In the tiebreak, we did not manage ‘to kill’ the game and we let them come back into it. We made many mistakes in the end, we didn t attack strongly. However, the team did great tonight. Now we will prepare for the bronze medal match tomorrow.”

Semi-finals 5-8 places

Belarus vs. Germany 1-3 (18-25, 19-25, 25-16, 20-25)

Germany raced to a 6-1 lead at the beginning of their match with Belarus and Belarus coach Natallia Melianiuk called a timeout.  Belarus tried to respond, but the Germans kept the difference. Despite Belarus’ push, Germany continued leading and closed this set at 25-18.
Both teams played ‘a catch-up game’ at the start of the second set, but it was Germany who first took a small lead at 8-6. The close contest continued, but Germany continued on leading. The Belarusian coach tried to change the situation, calling a timeout, but to no avail, as Belarus gave away the second set at 19-25. 
Belarus caught a better start to the third set and until the end of it were leading to eventually emerge victorious at 25-16. 
Belarus began the fourth set better too, leading 6-1, but Germany got back on their feet, turning things in their favour for 10-8. Coming back in the game extra motivated the girls coached by Manuel Hartmann, who eventually congratulated themselves with the victory. 

The Netherlands vs. Serbia 1-3 (19-25, 18-25, 26-24, 14-25)

After an equal start in the second matchup of the day at "Dhimitraq Goga" sports hall in Durrës, it was Serbia who first started to pull away, leading at 10-7. The Netherlands responded and took over the lead at 14-13 in their favour, but Serbia managed to grab the win in this set.
Serbia had no rest in the second set, racing to an early 10-5 lead and kept the gap until the end to eventually emerge victorious at 25-18.
The Netherlands were leading in the third set and although Serbia saved as many as five set points, the Dutch resisted for 26-24 to stay alive in this contest. 
Serbia won the fourth set at 25-14 and secured a rematch with Germany. Both teams met in the pool stage of #EuroVolleyU19W with the Serbs winning 3-1.

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