The second day of the MEVZA tournament showed very small qualitative differences among the seven participating national teams. After four played matches, only the Czech men recorded four wins and kept the lead in the rankings. Yet even for them latter did not go completely smooth.
Last match of the second day showed that the Czechs are also vulnerable. The favorites on paper had to do their best to beat the Slovakian national team, as the latter were only beat in the third decisive set. As a result the Czech men defended the leading position in the rankings, while for Slovakia it was already the second defeat of the day. Earlier in the afternoon, it took Hungary three sets to decide the game in their favor, especially through a better serve-reception. Alongside three reception errors, Slovakia almost did not record an ideal reception for the preparation of a quick attack. Boa Szabolcs had a standout performance for Hungary, entering in the middle of the first set and registering 16 points to his account by the end of the match. Otherwise, the Hungarian coach, Tibor Tomanoczy, gave all his players a chance, which is a testament of their depth and the importance of the tournament in terms of also preparing the teams for the upcoming international competitions. The Hungarians also won the morning game (2:1) against Israel. After the first set loss, it took them up until the final points to tip the second set in their favor, while in the third they already gained a smaller lead at 21:17. Vilmos Szabo was with 15 points the most efficient player on the floor.
Austrian players earned their first victory of the tournament in the morning, when they took down the host team after a furious fight. The first set was dictated by Slovenia, who already had a 16:10 lead and thus comfortably brought the set home. However, the Austrians did not surrender. Mostly, they improved the serve-reception and as a result, they improved their attack, and with less errors than the opponent on the service line the set was won with 25:23. Slovenia was up to a good start in the third and already leading with a three point margin, however their hitting ineffectiveness was punished by their northern neighbors who finally celebrated with 26:24. For Austria, Daniel Morgunov scored 15 points, while 15-year-old Rok Bracko from Slovenia ended up being the top scorer with 17 points. Therefore, in their next match, Slovenia did better in all elements of the volleyball game and secured a straight set win against Croatia. Croatian mostly had problems with the serve-reception, receiving as many as 12 aces. Perhaps the men from Croatia entered this match still a bit disappointment from the earlier very close loss to the tournament favorite from Czech Republic. It took the Czechs again all the way to the third set to break the opponents resistance, where they took a compelling 16:8 lead and ended up winning the set with a nine points margin.
That being said, at the top of the table is Czech Republic with four victories, followed by Hungary with 3 wins, Slovenia and Israel have 2-2 record, while Austria, Slovakia and Croatia each won one. Today’s tournament will also give the final winner, with third place still being in reach for five teams.
Photo Credit: Draš Center & OK Nova KBM Branik