Three in three for Estonia in Euro League Men
Luxembourg, May 26, 2018. Estonia mastered their third win in the 2018 CEV Volleyball Golden European League - Men to maintain their unbeaten status in Pool A. On Saturday, they claimed a four-set home victory over Sweden. In the other pools, Ukraine and Portugal persevered for remarkable five-set come-from-behind away victories to stay well in contention for a spot in the Final Four.
Estonia vs. Sweden 3-1 (25-22, 18-25, 25-23, 25-17)
• Both Estonia and Sweden gave their best on the court in the first part of the match, but the eventual winners opened the game with a 25-22 win.
• The biggest battle was in the third set that lasted 29 minutes. Taking this part was crucial for the Estonian team as it gave them “wings to fly” and they were able to close the fourth set with a comfortable advantage of eight points.
• They key to success for Estonia was the bench. Their head coach Gheorghe Crețu made many substitutions, which complicated the situation for the team of Sweden.
• The Estonian opposite Oliver Venno was supposed to play for a second consecutive time as outside-hitter - he started on that position also today but had problems in reception. This led to him coming back to his usual position and finishing the game with 12 points.
• Estonia have now nine points and are leading the way in Pool A of the Golden #EuroLeagueM, while Sweden have zero points.
Gheorghe Crețu, coach of Estonia: “Some substitutions were on my plan before the game, others I had to make to change the course of the game as it was developing. We could have played smarter in the first two sets.”
Johan Isacsson, coach of Sweden: “Estonia created problems for us mainly thanks to three factors: they have a very good setter, good middle-blockers and their number 9 (Robert Täht). We had the right momentum at one point, but we could not use it. Estonia is a very solid team with great experience and it takes a lot to beat them.”
Belgium vs. Slovakia 3-2 (25-22, 25-17, 22-25, 25-27, 15-13)
• A strong start for the Belgian team was rewarded with a 4-0 lead. After a brilliant block by Igor Grobelny the score went to 13-8 for the home team. Slovakia made too many errors and Belgium lost some concentration before the first set ended at 25-22 for the home side.
• With setter Martin Jancura instead of Jakub Hrinak the Slovak team caught a promising start to the second set. They showed some beautiful attacks with Michal Petras as best finisher. At 22-16 for the Red Dragons, however, the resistance of the visitors was broken.
• In the third set the score was equal until 10-10. After that, the Slovakian team began to score many times in a row and Petras was decisive for them.
• An 18-14 lead in the fourth set was not enough for Belgium and the aggressive visitors fought back for 24-20. The answer of the home team came with strong blocking actions which made them level the score to 24-24. However, it was not sufficient for winning this set.
• Kevin Klinkenberg eventually gave Belgium the victory after two excellent attacks in the tiebreak.
• Belgium made the double amount of blocks (14) in comparison to Slovakia that registered seven.
• Igor Grobelny and Gert Van Walle top scored for the Red Dragons with 17 points apiece as Michal Petras registered 24 for Slovakia in their losing effort followed by Matej Patak with 22.
Andrea Anastasi, coach of Belgium: “I am satisfied with the way my team fought. I have especially observed the response of the players after the hard-fought comeback of the Slovakian team. I have seen some progress in blocking, but on the other hand, several aspects of the game can be much better, especially in defence.”
Matthias Valkiers, player of Belgium: “We missed opportunities and I think this applies especially to block and defence because we could have done much better in these aspects of the game.”
The Netherlands vs. Ukraine 2-3 (25-15, 20-25, 25-20, 24-26, 13-15)
• Ukraine are the reigning European League champions. Two players from their 2017 Dream Team were playing against the Netherlands: Volodymyr Kovalchuk and Maksym Drozd.
• Oleh Plotnytskyi from Ukraine was the Man of the Match. He was very decisive, especially with his service. He served 20 times and scored three aces.
• Plotnytskyi was the top scorer of the match as well with 19 points.
• On Wednesday Ukraine and the Netherlands will play again, in Ivano-Frankivsk.
Gido Vermeulen, coach of the Netherlands: "We started really well today in the first set, and after a minor setback we controlled the match in set 3. We should have won the fourth set, but we didn’t. Ukraine played more aggressively today, and we should ask ourselves how that is possible."
Oleh Plotnytskyi, player of Ukraine: "We pushed ourselves 100% in practice and now we have a victory! It s a perfect feeling! The Netherlands are a really good team. Yes, today we won, but 3-2 - maybe we were just lucky. Our next match with them is going to be very difficult."
Finland vs. Portugal 2-3 (25-17, 15-25, 19-25, 25-21, 13-15)
• In a five-set thriller both sides showed nice skills in the different aspects of the game – making it a real joy to watch for the spectators attending the match. Eventually, the players headed by Hugo Silva claimed a 3-2 victory.
• Finland didn’t meet any serious problems in the opening set of this match as they took it by 25-17.
• Portugal responded in the best way possible by taking the second part by 25-15.
• As the third set was unfolding, the spectators in Ice Arena Tampere witnessed some great Volleyball, high-speed rallies and fast play. The score was moving point-for-point but the Portuguese proved to be better in the end.
• Finland did not give up easily and by winning the fourth set, they brought this match into a tie break.
• Both sides showed a real fighting spirit in the fifth set – Portugal were leading most of the time while Finland were always breathing down their necks. However, Portugal were able to take the eventual control of proceedings and claimed a 3-2 victory.
• Portugal captain Alexandre Ferreira was the key figure of the match scoring 26 points, 25 of which from his spikes plus one block.
• Best Finnish scorer was middle blocker Tommi Siirilä with 12 points.
• There were 2,186 spectators, creating an excellent atmosphere in the hall.
• Portugal has now beaten Finland 13 times in 39 matches.
Tuomas Sammelvuo, coach of Finland: “There were a lot of ups and downs in the match. We started serving well, expecially using our float serve. Portugal made changes to their reception and they started to play better in the next sets. In the fifth we had some balls, which are not going to happen in the future, I hope, when we get more experience. This was a good lesson for our young players.”
Hugo Silva, coach of Portugal: “This is an important victory for us. I am happy with the win, but not happy with the mistakes we made, 38, if I remember right. Our team believed in their chances to win. Now we need to work, to make less such mistakes in the matches. Our goal is to qualify for the Final Four.”
Czech Republic vs. Spain 3-1 (25-13, 25-18, 19-25, 27-25)
• The hosts totally dominated in the first set. The home team earned eight points in a row and clearly won 25-13. Donovan Džavoronok had a great performance, as he top scored in the end with 19 points, including six from the opening set.
• The home team continued their good game in the second set and didn’t even let Spain play properly. Jan Hadrava shocked everyone at set ball with a short service, and this way the Czechs sealed their set win at 25-18.
• Spain won the third set, because they played fully concentrated. The visitors were leading during most of the fourth set as well, but they didn‘t use their set ball. Then the Czechs got a match ball and they promptly used it to win the match.
• The hall was sold out, so the home crowd created a really fantastic and exciting atmosphere.
Jakub Janouch, captain of Czech Republic: “We played really great for the first two sets. We surprised the opposition with our defence and service. We slowed down later and the Spaniards were better. I’m happy with the way we handled the end of the fourth set. It will help us psychologically for our next matches.”
Jorge Fernandez Valcarcel, captain of Spain: “We started to play from the third set and that was too late. The whole fourth set we were leading but then there we made two mistakes and it was all over.”
Fernando Munoz, coach of Spain: “We knew that the Czechs are a really powerful rival because they have a great team and amazing fans. They confirmed my thought and I congratulate them on this victory.”
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