Slovakia, Ukraine secure ticket to EuroVolley 2019 Men
Luxembourg, January 5, 2019. Slovakia delighted a full house of some 2,500 fans in attendance in Nitra to rout Montenegro in three sets and secure their ticket to EuroVolley 2019 Men. It is the tenth participation in the competition for the country since the breakup of the former Czechoslovakia in 1993. Slovakia’s opposite Peter Michalovič lived up to his name and to the expectations as he scored 15 points for the home team. Ukraine have secured a spot at EuroVolley as well, following a 3-1 home victory over the Former Y.R. of Macedonia, their fifth win in as many matches in Pool F, where they have now an unassailable lead. Elsewhere, Greece claimed their fifth straight win in Pool G where Azerbaijan beat Luxembourg 3-1 to stay in contention for a spot in the Final Round. Norway routed Georgia in three sets and the ‘Vikings’ keep their hopes alive ahead of Wednesday’s big match with Pool E leaders Belarus in Oslo.
Slovakia vs. Montenegro 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-20)
• Slovakia, thanks to their victory over Montenegro, secured their ticket to EuroVolley 2019 Men. They advanced to the final round of the competition for the tenth time in their history.
• There was a full house in Nitra – 2,500 spectators in a packed arena accounted for a brilliant atmosphere.
• The hosts led from start to end in the first and third set, as Montenegro had more chances to put up a fight in the second.
• Peter Michalovič (SVK) and Marko Bojič (MNE) collected both 15 points and were the top scorers of the match.
Andrej Kravárik, head coach of Slovakia: “We are very happy with this victory, which means that we are qualified. It was not easy in the first two sets, because Montenegro are a very dangerous opponent. I am satisfied with the performance of our team and now we want to finish the qualifications with another victory in Iceland. We were the favourites of this group, it was not easy, but we are happy with the results. It was a fantastic Volleyball day in Nitra, our spectators were great and we all want to thank them and our federation for the organisation.”
Veljko Bašič, head coach of Montenegro: “I am disappointed with the result. Our players tried to do their best, but unfortunately we made too many mistakes and with such a performance, it is not possible to win against a strong team like Slovakia. Now we know what we have to do. We must beat Moldova at home to secure the qualification. I am sure that we will play much better than we did today. This is our last chance to qualify for the first time in history to EuroVolley. It was a nice atmosphere here in Nitra, congratulations to Slovakia.”
Georgia vs. Norway 0-3 (10-25, 18-25, 18-25)
• Norway needed less than an hour to cruise to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over the still winless Georgia.
• Even though their team captain Jonas Kvalen did not play at all, Norway were obviously the dominant force, with Kristian Morken Bjelland and Sigurd van Dijk Festoy top scoring with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
• Norway are still in contention for a spot at EuroVolley 2019 Men ahead of the all-important home match with Belarus coming up on Wednesday in Oslo.
Sulkhan Akhvlediani, head coach of Georgia: “We tried to prepare for this game in the best way after losing against Norway back in August, but we soon understood the level of the team we were fighting with. We hope that our young players will get more experienced and will show their best side in the future.”
Hungary vs. Switzerland 2-3 (25-22, 25-22, 20-25, 21-25, 8-15)
• A full house in Don Bosco Arena, in Kazincbarcika, as the local fans were hopeful for an important win for the home side.
• Great comeback by the Swiss team, who were able to get the win in five sets after being 0-2 down.
• Árpád Baróti (HUN) with 20 points was the top scorer for the hosts, while Luca Ulrich (SUI) received the MVP award for the match after putting 18 to his name.
Bogdan Tanase, head coach of Hungary: “We were weaker in some areas and in difficult situations the Swiss team was able to find better solutions. However, I saw some nice things in our game but of course, lots of work is still to be done. We would like to win next week in Skopje, and it is important to show that Hungary always wants to win every match.”
Alpár Szabó, middle blocker of Hungary: “Of course, we are very disappointed. We wanted to win this match. On Wednesday, we would like to win and finish the qualifications with a nice victory against the Former Y.R. of Macedonia.”
Mario Motta, head coach of Switzerland: “We expected a very difficult match because we knew the strength of Hungary. In the first two sets we made lots of mistakes but after that, we were able to play better and that is the reason why we eventually claimed a victory in five sets.”
Azerbaijan vs. Luxembourg 3-1 (25-18, 27-25, 21-25, 25-20)
• Azerbaijan are now in second place in Pool G. Next Wednesday they will play Sweden in Stockholm where, if they win, they could secure a spot in this year’s EuroVolley Men.
• Azerbaijan showed a good performance in blocking, totalling 10 points from their first line of defence.
• Azerbaijan’s Rasul Ibragimov led the scoring sheet with 18 points to his name followed by his teammate Parviz Samadov with 16.
• Kamil Rychlicki was Luxembourg’s top scorer of the match with 15.
• Luxembourg’s Chris Zuidberg fired up three aces, helping his team to six direct service points. It was the only aspect of the game where Luxembourg outscored Azerbaijan.
Farid Jalalov, head coach of Azerbaijan: “All teams in our group were strong. We will be travelling to Sweden in one day. For now, we are in second place in our group. We hope Luxembourg will not finish last in the pool, meaning we have to discard the results of the matches with them. We still have middle blocker problems, so we are going to play the next match with the same group of players.”
Rasul Ibragimov, player of Azerbaijan: “Congratulations to all of my teammates. We did everything we could to win this match. We are glad of course, but the next match is calling for us. I believe we can play a good match away as well. We know the opponents from Sweden, since we have already played three matches against them. Two matches ended with their victory, one time we did win. We will do our best.”
Chris Zuidberg, player of Luxembourg: “Azerbaijan have strong players in their team. I think some of them can be among the strongest players in Europe. We came here for a victory, but we could not quite make it happen. Azerbaijan was physically stronger than us. We have lost 90 percent of our chances. I wish the Azerbaijani team good luck for their next match with Sweden.”
Greece vs. Sweden 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-22)
• Greece extended their winning streak in the competition to five matches in a row and to eight head-to-head against Sweden overall.
• Nikos Zoupani emerged as top scorer and best player of the match with 13 points for Greece; August Borna was Sweden’s best scorer with 9 points.
• Sweden put up a very brave show, but they were not able to threaten Greece seriously in this match.
• Full house at the Rentis suburb of Piraeus, where 2,000 spectators cheered Greece to their victory.
• Even before the match, Greece had secured first place in the pool. Sweden can no longer catch up with Azerbaijan for second.
Information by cev.lu