Seven more teams qualify for EuroVolley 2019 Men!
Luxembourg, January 9, 2019. With 17 teams sure of their spot in Europe’s premier competition, there were another seven tickets up for grabs today. Portugal sealed their own trip to EuroVolley courtesy of a 3-1 away victory over Albania to secure first place in Pool D as Belarus topped the charts of Pool E after routing Norway in three sets in Oslo. The remaining tickets went to the five runners-up with the best result across all seven pools, namely Spain, Finland, Montenegro, Austria and the Former Y.R. of Macedonia. It was a night to remember especially for Montenegro and the Former Y.R. of Macedonia, as the two Balkan countries will be making their first-ever appearance at EuroVolley later this year.
Denmark vs. Romania 3-1 (22-25, 25-15, 25-21, 25-19)
• The last match of Pool A saw Romania suffering their first defeat at the expense of Denmark, who finished their campaign with a first win.
• Claudiu Dumitru and Alexandru Muscina got their debut for Romania.
• Top scorer of the match was Denmark’s Peter Trolle Bonnesen (16 points).
Kristian Knudsen, head coach of Denmark: “We played with a young team who plays really great. It was a fantastic debut on our new home court, with splendid support from our fans, who carried us through the match and a huge praise to the entire team for a strong performance. We had agreed to play at a steady level, which we knew we could keep. From there we should build and push, and if things started to go bad, we should fall back to the steady, safe level. A game plan which the guys followed fully.”
Danut Pascu, head coach of Romania: “We came to play a good match of volleyball, but unfortunately we did not manage to do that. We enjoyed the great atmosphere in the arena, fantastic fans, and all the activities around the match. We miss four players from our normal starting six, so this was also a chance for us to give some new, young players some valuable experience, including two debutants.”
Latvia vs. Israel 3-1 (28-26, 24-26, 25-23, 25-23)
• Despite their 3-1 victory, Latvia finish third and last in Pool B.
• The hosts set the pace for most of the match, but lost a close second set.
• Israel tried to continue the good play, but they did not focus enough in the late stages of the third set and fourth sets.
• The best player of the match was Reinis Pekmans (LAT), who scored 18 points.
• Latvia served 11 aces during the match and had 13 blocks. Israel served four aces and blocked 11 times.
Lauris Iecelnieks, assistant coach of Latvia: “I am happy that we could finish the European qualification round with a win in our home game. I want to say thank you to coach Avo Keel, who invited me to become a part of the team, and of course to the team. Today I could see that Latvian Wolves have team spirit!”
Iceland vs. Slovakia 0-3 (18-25, 18-25, 20-25)
• Peter Mlynarcik was the top scorer for Slovakia with 13 points, including two aces.
• Theódór Óskar Thorvaldsson was the top scorer of Iceland with 14 points.
• Hafsteinn Valdimarsson, captain of Iceland received a yellow card in the third set after arguing with the referee.
• Slovakia had qualified for the European Championship before the match, so they could use some of their less experienced players during the game.
Andrej Kravarik, head coach of Slovakia: “I am very happy with the game and especially the players I used from the bench. Next steps are to prepare the team as good as we can before the European Championship. First, we start with the European Golden League and want to play against some top teams to see where we stand.”
Hafsteinn Valdimarsson, captain of Iceland: “We were not too far from them today, especially in the third set and are satisfied that we were pretty stable the whole game through. The main difference between the teams is that they are at a higher level than we are and today our reception could have been better.”
Montenegro vs. Republic of Moldova 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-13)
• This match was very important in this group as these two teams were both in contention for a ticket to EuroVolley.
• The middle blocker of Montenegro Luka Babic missed this match due to injury and could not take to the court; as a result, youngster Jovan Delic stepped in for him.
• In the first set, Montenegro showed their power and strength as they were determined not to repeat the same mistakes they had done when playing in Moldova last summer.
• An interesting moment came in the second set with the result being 18-15. The 19th point for Montenegro came after the head coach of Moldova Artur Romascan received a yellow card – and right after that, a red card as well.
• Montenegro showed their best game in the third set – they outclassed their opponents in all aspects, especially with their serving game and at blocking.
• Montenegro finish second in the pool, waiting to know their fate in the competition.
Marko Vukasinovic, player of Montenegro: “It is hard to talk right now, since I am full of emotions. I would like to congratulate also the team of Moldova – they fought as much as they could. I would like to thank these amazing fans in the sports hall, all the people from the national federation, my teammates, the coaching staff and everyone that helped us.”
Croatia vs. Austria 1-3 (22-25, 25-18, 20-25, 20-25)
• Austria have qualified for #EuroVolleyM 2019 as one of the five second ranked teams with the best score. Croatia finish last in Pool D after managing to win only one match against Albania.
• It is the first time qualifying for Austria since they co-hosted the tournament with the Czech Republic in 2011.
• Some 500 spectators visited the Dom Odbojke Bojan Stranic hall in Zagreb, among them there was a large group of Austrian supporters.
• In a relatively even match, both Croatia and Austria managed to score 13 block points. The difference was made by Austria in attack (45 over 41) and serving (9 aces over 4).
• Thomas Zass was top scorer in Zagreb, as he put 22 points to his name.
Tsimafei Zhukouski, captain of Croatia: “First of all I would like to congratulate Team Austria with qualifying for EuroVolley 2019. They played extremely good tonight. We still need to work a lot and improve. We keep our heads up and wait for next summer to play better.”
Michael Warm, head coach of Austria: “I’m really… I do not know what to say. We were very courageous. We did it for ourselves, since I do not know what the results from the other pools are. Honestly, I am very proud of this team, these guys. I think we had a good night in Zagreb.”
Albania vs. Portugal 1-3 (26-24, 19-25, 15-25, 15-25)
• Redjo Koçi and Anton Qafarena helped hosts Albania claim a close and dramatic first set 26-24.
• The other three sets were a photocopy of each other, with the Portuguese team slowly but surely extending their lead, playing better than before with Marco Evan Ferreira, Phelipe Martins and Caique Ferreira Da Silva their standout performers.
• Marco Evan Ferreira top scored in the end for Portugal with 19 points as Martins added another 18 to the Portuguese tally. Koçi stood out for Albania with 15 points.
• This was Albania’s first home loss in these EuroVolley qualifiers.
• Portugal finish first in the pool to secure their spot in EuroVolley 2019 Men, with Albania down in third.
Jovan Melkas, head coach of Albania: “The last two games of this phase for our team were not at the expected level. When we started the preparation phase we had other expectations, but this is sport. Today we played with many fluctuations, but Portugal is a better team and they showed this on the court. Anyway, these European qualifiers were better for Albania compared to the European League last summer, as we made a step forward and I hope to continue with this rhythm in other events. I will analyse all the matches to take lessons for the future.”
Carlos Prata, head coach of Portugal: “As I said before the match, it was not easy for us tonight to win this game. We suffered in the first set to take the lead, but after that, we played better and deserved the victory. We did not panic after losing the first set, reacted well and dominated the remainder of the match. However, the most important thing tonight was to win this game and we did it, we reached our goal, which was to finish the pool in first place. I am happy for this and I want to congratulate my players for everything they gave during this tournament.”
Norway vs. Belarus 0-3 (19-25, 18-25, 23-25)
• Belarus was a much tougher opponent than Norway probably expected.
• Norway looked very nervous, especially in the early stages of the match and they did not show that little extra needed to win this type of matches.
• Norway had a historic chance at qualifying for EuroVolley but the hosts let it slip away.
• Belarus bagged three points to claim first place in Pool E and with it a ticket to EuroVolley.
• Despite the 16 points of captain Jonas Kvalen, Norway could not put enough pressure on the Belarussian side.
• Joint top scorer for this match was Radzivon Miskevich, also with 16 points to his name. His compatriot Uladzislau Davyskiba managed to put 14 points on the scoreboard.
Mathias Loftesnes, player of Norway: “I think we are very disappointed. The results were far from what we hoped for since we played to win and qualify. Belarus is a very good team and we needed to play our best to beat them. Unfortunately, this did not happen.”
Tore Aleksandersen, head coach of Norway: “Disappointing. We did not do what we agreed upon tactically and therefore gave them an easier game. We did not put pressure on them with our serve and this gave them an easy reception to setter and attacker. We need to play much stronger if we want to go to the next level of competition.”
Viktar Beksha, head coach of Belarus: “We are very happy that we are qualified. The first match in Belarus was difficult as Norway played such good defence. Tonight, we served well and took away their strongest player, Jonas Kvalen.”
Georgia vs. Spain 0-3 (10-25, 21-25, 18-25)
• This was the last match in these qualifiers for Team Georgia and even though they were off to a promising start, Spain soon took the initiative and won the first set at a canter.
• Spain used their middle blockers to put pressure on the young Georgians to win the opening set 25-10.
• Georgia claimed a small lead in the early stages of the second set, but halfway through Spain responded and after edging ahead, the visitors did not look back anymore to double their lead in the match.
• The third set followed the very same plot, with Georgia showing much determination but their lack of experience at this level was obvious and they ended up losing their sixth match in a row by 3-0.
• Georgia finish last in the pool and will hope to deliver a better performance in this year’s European Silver League.
• Best scorer for Spain was Victor Rodríguez Pérez, who put 13 points to his name. Top scorer of Georgia was Daviti Tskhomaria, who collected 12 points in the match.
Switzerland vs. Ukraine 2-3 (20-25, 28-26, 21-25, 25-15, 14-16)
• Ukraine beat Switzerland 3-2, in a match marked by suspense and emotion until the last point. The Ukrainian national team ended the qualifiers first in the group with an impeccable record of six straight wins.
• Jovan Djokic from Switzerland was the best player of the match, scoring 22 points.
• Most valuable player of the Ukrainian team was Volodymir Tevkun with 15 points.
• Most valuable player of the Swiss team was their setter Reto Giger.
• An excited crowd of 1,050 spectators created a fantastic atmosphere, in which the Swiss team played their very best Volleyball, showed incredible passion, and demonstrated that they have worked with dedication and professionalism for the EuroVolley qualifiers.
Mario Motta, head coach of Switzerland: “It was great to play in front of the home crowd. We really wanted to win and we were extremely close in the end but we did not succeed. To lose such close matches is always hard and even harder because we wanted to win in Switzerland, not only in Hungary and in the F.Y.R. of Macedonia, but at home as well. Although we did not qualify this year, I am convinced that this group of players can grow even more and will be ready to qualify in two years.”
Ugis Krastins, head coach of Ukraine: “It was not easy to be fully motivated for this last match of the qualifiers, but at the end of the day we found the right spirit to play for the victory. I am happy for the clear score of this campaign: six wins, zero losses.”
F.Y.R. of Macedonia vs. Hungary 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-21)
• It was a historic day for Macedonian Volleyball and sports as the home team beat Hungary 3-0 at Kale Hall in Skopje to qualify for EuroVolley 2019 and make their maiden appearance in the competition.
• They finished second in Pool F with a record of three wins in six matches and as one of the five best runners-up across all pools.
• Captain Nikola Gjorgiev, who is the best scorer of these EuroVolley qualifiers with a terrific tally of 217 points, scored 18 points against the Hungarians. Aleksandar Ljaftov added another 14 to the Macedonian count.
• In the first set, the home team had an advantage of 13-9, but Hungary found their rhythm and the score remained close almost until the end.
• In the second, the hosts had an early advantage at 10-6, just like in the third when they jumped ahead at 11-3.
• Hungary finish last in the pool as in Skopje Szabolcs Nemeth scored 13 points in their losing effort.
Luxembourg vs Greece 0-3 (20-25, 16-25, 21-25)
• Winners of Pool G, Greece, powered their way through the qualifications for EuroVolley Men 2019, managing six wins out of as many games, losing only two sets on the way.
• Greece enjoyed the support of their Ambassador to Luxembourg as well as of many young children from the European School, whose premises are right next door to d’Coque.
• It was a great match to end the qualification round for Luxembourg, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of approximately 500 people.
• An interesting fact: the two international referees, the reserve referee and the line judges for this match were all females.
Torsten Schooff, Technical Director of Luxembourg: “Congratulations to the Greek team and all the other opponents in our pool. Although we finish last, we are not too disappointed as such a competition brings a lot to the young players we have and makes them want more.”
Sweden vs Azerbaijan 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-16)
• Last time the two teams clashed, Azerbaijan came out as victors after an astonishing comeback on home soil in Baku. Sweden dominated early, had a 2-0 lead going into the third set and pushed for the three points when the score was 23-23. But Azerbaijan managed to turn the tables completely, bringing home the ’W’ via 3-2. Today’s victory was therefore a much-needed revenge for Team Sweden.
• In just his second game with the national team, setter Oskar von Sydow received the MVP award.
• Young gun August Borna became top scorer of the game with 18 points (including four aces).
Per-Erik Dalqvist, head coach of Team Sweden: “To end the #EuroVolley qualifiers with a win means a lot for the future and for this team, especially since we played according to plan and showed our home-crowd what we are capable of. We are for sure better and capable of more than what we have shown during these past matches and months.”
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