Home court in Zadar was not enough to help the Croatian players win the U17 Middle European Championship. In the finals, Slovakia was too strong and won the match in straight sets. Alexandra Fricova was the best player on the court, earning fifteen points for her national team. Slovakia played a great game, and gave result-wise the home team a hard hit, as they were hoping to win also in the final after a great performance in the semifinal. In the first and third sets, Croatia managed to collect only 12 points in each, while in the second set even a point less. Thus, they will have to look for their opportunity to qualify for the European Championship in additional qualifications, just like all the other teams from this tournament, with the exception of Slovakia, who with today’s win qualified for this year’s biggest U17 volleyball competition. “Last year we finished this tournament in the second place and this year we won it. Just like the semifinal, we also played the final at a high tactical and technical level from the first to the last point, and at the end celebrated the win and making it to this year’s European Championship, “said Slovakia’s coach Marek Malicky with a smile on his face.
Before the bronze medal duel between Slovenia and the Czech Republic, the experts tipped that Slovenia might be slightly favored, and they ended up justifying their role. They won without losing a single set. The Czech team managed to score 20 points in the third, 18 in the first and even a point less in the second set. Notably, the serve-reception was the Czechs weak point, who received as many as 17 aces, while scoring only six themselves. The difference in the attack was to the minimum advantage of Slovenia, while the Czechs recorded even a block more than their opposition. Julia Grubisic ?abo was the match’s top scorer with 12 points, while her teammate Selena Leban collected only a point less.
Hungary was stronger than Austria in the match for the fifth place and was looking forward to winning 3-0. Decisive was a more efficient attack and better serve-reception efficiency, even though Hungary received four aces more than their opponents.
Both teams that competed for the seventh place had not previously collected a win yet in this tournament. After five sets Cyprus, who led already with 2-0 in sets, mainly due to a better defensive performance, celebrated the victory. In sets three and four Israel took over and a bit surprisingly won both sets. In the fifth, Cyprus lead already with 10-7, but Israel narrowed the gap to 11-12. The tie at point 14 is just a testament to how equal the match and teams were. Still, the next two points and the victory went to the players from Cyprus, who finished the tournament in seventh place.
4. Czech Republic
Photo Credit: Croatian Volleyball Federation