Austria to challenge the host Slovenia in the U19 Women’s and U20 Men’s Middle European Championships

Maribor, Slovenia. The women’s U19 and men’s U20 Middle European Championships in Maribor, Slovenia have advanced to the final day. In both, the women’s U19 and men’s U20, the host teams from Slovenia will face Austria in the gold medal match at 11:30am, while Croatia will go against Hungary for the bronze at 9:30am.

After pool play has given us the same semifinal pairings on the men’s and women’s side, Slovenia against Hungary and Croatia versus Austria, the semifinals did not only have the same teams emerge victorious but also have them do so with the same scores.

In the first semifinal session, both competitions saw Slovenia sweep the Hungarian teams. Slovenian women showed a strong team performance, mainly outscoring their opponents from the service line (13 total aces), led by the match-high 5 service winners from the Middle Blocker Neja Cizman. In addition Slovenia was able to hold Hungary to only 22% on attack and force 9 more direct errors from their opponents, which all added up to a clear 3-0 win for Slovenia.

Slovenia U20 men might have shown their best performance in this event so far. With a great team effort and showing in all elements of the game, they were able to hold off a very resilient start from the Hungarian team. An overall 60% attack with the Opposite Nik Mujanovic contributing 14 points and 3 aces, a perfect 10 points out of 10 attempts Middle Blocker Janez Janz Krzic, another consistent performance of the team captain Rok Bracko with 9 points on a 64% attack had Slovenia close the match in straight sets for a 3-0 victory.

A lot more dramatic were both Croatia against Austria matchups, where both games ended up going to 5 sets with the better end for the Austrian teams. The game of comebacks was eventually won by the Austrian women. After winning the first set, Croatia took the next two and was on a good way to winning the fourth, until the Austrian Setter finished the set on a 7-0 service run, including all 3 of her aces in the span for a 25-22 Austrian win. The drama continued in the fifth set, where Austria got to a better start and was leading the whole way until 13-11, when suddenly Croatia pushes to a 14-13 lead and first match ball. Austria spectacularly defends all of Croatia’s attacks for this and the next match ball at 15-14, before converting their own third match ball at 19-17.

Also going to five sets was the last semifinal of the day, the men’s match between Austria and Croatia. Here, Croatia got to a hot start and won the first set with a dominant 25-12. It was then Austria who took the next two sets with 25-22 and 25-23 led by the Opposite Michel Czerwinski who had a match-high 20 attacking points on 55 swings. The two teams continued a very close game, with the Croatians winning the fourth set 26-24, before Austria closed the match with 15-12 in the decisive set, thanks to great defence led by the UVC Graz Libero Julian Zehner, that allowed the Austrians more attacking opportunities to capitalise on.

The Bronze Medal matches will start at 9:30, while the Gold Medal matches are scheduled for 11:30am.

Schedule and Results:
Women’s U19
Men’s U20