Czech could not stop Italy as the only remaining undefeated team at #EuroVolleyU20M

Brno/Kurim, Czech Republic. Italy remain the only team with an impeccable record after completion of three competition days at #EuroVolleyU20M in the Czech Republic. On Monday, they added another 3-0 victory to their clean sheet – they are yet to drop a set in the tournament and they did not concede any even to the home team. France and Belgium improved their win-loss record to 2-1 in Pool I following their victories over Serbia and Poland, respectively, with the young Red Dragons making up for a 0-2 deficit in the match. In Pool II, where the programme features less matches following the withdrawal of Turkey and Ukraine, Belarus thumped the Netherlands 3-0 to celebrate their first victory in the competition.

Pool I 

France vs. Serbia 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-18) 
France and Serbia opened the programme of the third competition day in Kurim, with Les Bleus playing very aggressively from the very beginning, which propelled them towards a 2-0 lead in the match. This time, Serbia failed to come back from two sets down as they had done on Sunday against the Czech Republic. On the contrary, France looked even more in command in the third set, thus securing a 3-0 victory with Tom Lavigne top scoring on 18 points. 

Abdel-Aziz Doumbia scored 11 points for France in their victory over Serbia 

Marc Francastel, head coach of France: “We played a good match, we put pressure on the opponent, we served very well and I think this was important against this Serbian team, because if we had not done so, they would have been very dangerous. Therefore, I am glad we played such a good match and we took three important points. It is our first 3-0 win in the tournament after we played five sets in both of our previous matches.” 

Ognjen Niketic, captain of Serbia: “Unfortunately, we did not play like we did yesterday and our opponent was very good. In addition to that, we made too many mistakes.” 

Poland vs. Belgium 2-3 (29-27, 25-22, 16-25, 23-25, 8-15) 
These two teams had a record of one win and one loss after two days of competition and therefore, they played with much determination in order to stay in contention for a spot in the semis. Poland played especially well in the first and second sets, courtesy of Michal Gierzot, who scored 10 points all alone in the first set. Despite the fight put up by the Belgians, Poland were able to emerge victorious from the second set as well, where they kept a small lead until the very end. Belgium seemed to find their way into the game with the third set, where their teamwork and great defence helped secure a comprehensive 25-16 win. The young Red Dragons showed their quality in the fourth set as well and eventually took the tiebreak too to celebrate their second 3-2 victory in as many days – after on Sunday they had achieved this same result against France. 

Young Red Dragons celebrate their come-from-behind victory over Poland 

Sebastian Pawlik, head coach of Poland: “We played very well for the first two sets but we stopped to push after that. In order to win, you need to push from start to end and even though we fought, there was no pressure from our side after the second set. Belgium started to feel like they could change the course of the game and win – and they eventually did so.” 

Kris Eyckmans, head coach of Belgium: “I am very happy with the second victory in a row. In the third set, we finally found a way to control one of the key players of Poland a way better than we did in the first two sets and that helped us win 25-16 and the game afterwards. I think we are getting better game by game and feel more confident on the court. I feel that we can play even better after the rest day.” 

Czech Republic vs. Italy 0-3 (15-25, 24-26, 23-25) 
The Czechs knew they needed a victory from this matchup in order to remain in contention for a good result at this home championship. However, already before the start of the match, Czech coach Premysl Obdrzalek knew it was not going to be easy at all because the opponent of his team, Italy, were yet to lose a set in the competition. Italy easily controlled the first set before the second was a much more closely contested one – with the Czechs failing to capitalise on two set balls. The ‘Azzurrini’ asserted their supremacy in a close third set as well to secure their third 3-0 victory in as many matches.

The home team fought hard but had to accept a third straight loss in Pool I 

Premysl Obdrzalek, head coach of the Czech Republic: “Our players put up a good fight today and it is a pity that we did not succeed in the end of the second and third sets. Italy was very strong, we have it behind us and we will definitely fight for further progress in the competition.” 

Petr Spulak, captain of the Czech Republic: “We improved after a bad start, but unfortunately, we could not take any set from Italy. We believe that we will finally be able to win after the rest day so that we have a better chance of progressing from the pool.” 

Pool II 

The Netherlands vs. Belarus 0-3 (20-25, 20-25, 21-25) 
The Netherlands and Belarus shared the very same desire to win. The young Oranjes looked determined to continue from where they left with Sunday’s victory over Germany but Belarus caught the most promising start to the match. The Netherlands tried to take more risks but this resulted in more and more mistakes. On the other hand, Belarus seemed to gain in confidence as the match progressed and they eventually celebrated their first victory after losing the tournament opener on Saturday to their neighbours from Russia. 

Belarus coach Sergei Trotski was pleased with the performance of his team 

Arnold van Ree, head coach of the Netherlands: “We had a chance in second set tonight but we missed some serves and lost. I have to give credit to the opponent, because they played very good volleyball, especially from the serving line. They hit the ball very powerfully from high sets and our tall players were very much off power tonight. It was not enough for us to win tonight.”

Sergei Trotski, head coach of Belarus: “We are very happy for the first win in the tournament and overall with our performance today. We are taking it one match at a time and I hope we will continue with other victories after the rest day.” 

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CEV – European Volleyball
CVF – Czech Volleyball Federation

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