On the third and last day of the Middle European Championship in Maribor (Slovenia), matches for places one through six were played. Of course, the most interesting was the final between the Czech Republic and Austria. In particular the latter prepared a little surprise already by defeating Slovenia in the semifinals.
Therefore the question was whether they could prepare another one against the Czechs and qualify for the U18 European Championship without having to go through additional qualifications later on this year. Yet the Czechs did not allow this, as they ended up winning 3-0. They entered into the match motivated and Austria was only able to hold the tempo with them until the middle of the first set. Despite the fact that throughout the game the Austrians had a better reception percentage, their hitting percentage was significantly weaker. The Czechs averaged a 45% success rate, while the Austrians only 25%. Also effective was the Czech block, recording 12 points against the opponents five. Top scorer for the Czech team was the opposite David Kollator with eleven points, but his teammates also all contributed and followed his lead. This is why the Czech coach, Jan Svoboda, was understandably pleased after the game: “We are delighted to win and qualify for the European Championship. The team really performed great in all the volleyball elements, which I am proud of as a coach. “
Before the final, the matches for third and fifth place were also played. In the bronze medal match, Slovenia and Israel met. Given what was seen before this match, it was difficult to determine a favorite. Israel showed a great team-effort with many equivalent players, while Slovenia had standout outside hitter Rok Bracko leading the pack. Even though he was again his team’s top-scorer with 19 points, he was closely followed by Dino Vinkovic with only a point less and Janž Janez Kržic with two points less. At the same time, Slovenia’s serve-reception was more reliable than in previous matches. This was enough for the Israelis to have to acknowledge a better end for their opponents with a score of 1-3.
In the match for fifth place, Slovakia allowed Hungary only one set. They won the first and third sets without any bigger difficulties, however gave away the second one. In the fourth they had to give it all to win with 27-25 and avoid a potential fifth set.
1. Czech Republic
Photo Credit: OK Nova KBM Branik