CEV, Luxembourg. International Volleyball is back after the long break due to the coronavirus pandemic! On Saturday, the 2020 edition of #EuroVolleyU19W got underway in Zenica and Osijek under strict hygiene and health protocols, with Poland and Serbia securing their first victories in Pool I, while Turkey and France achieved the same feat in Pool II. The competition continues on Sunday with another two matches in Pool I, whilst the teams contesting Pool II will resume their journey on Monday.
Pool I in Zenica (BIH)
Serbia vs. Slovakia 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20)
Serbia started their campaign at Arena Zenica with a 3-1 victory against Slovakia. This match represented the first international Volleyball game held since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic back in March and the subsequent cancellation of all competitions scheduled for the spring and early summer seasons.
Milan Grši?, head coach of Serbia: “We expected that the game would go with some nervousness because a lot of time had passed since our last official match. With so many mistakes, no one hoped that the game would end in our favour. At this point, the most important thing is that we recorded a victory, that the girls felt the magic of the game and the championship. As time goes on, we are convinced that our girls will show their talent. We are not so worried that the match against Slovakia was as it was. Tomorrow we have another opponent – Belarus. We need to turn our thoughts to that match.”
Jaroslav Hancak, head coach of Slovakia: “We were maybe afraid of winning today. We started making mistakes at the beginning, and we entered the match with too much prudence. It was difficult to play against a difficult opponent in this way. We played much better later. We will prepare for each match separately and try to secure a place among the top eight of the tournament.”
Poland used their physical prowess to secure a comprehensive victory over hosts Bosnia and Herzegovina. The match lasted 63 minutes only.
Wieslaw Popik, head coach of Poland: “It is important that we started with a victory. After the break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was important that we won, but also controlled the match from the beginning to the end. It is a long way to a medal, but we will fight for it.”
Armin Bukvi?, assistant coach of Bosnia and Herzegovina: “This was the first game for our girls. Since the selection of Italy, which won the last edition of this championship, did not come, we can say that Poland are one of the favourites for the gold medal. We played bravely, we played solidly, and we will fix some things for the next matches to try to present ourselves in a better light.”
Pool II in Osijek (CRO)
After 116 minutes and a tough battle, France were able to start their campaign on a high note, edging hosts Croatia at the tiebreak.
France head coach, Fabrice Vial was very proud of his team, and especially of Guewe Diouf, who recorded 28 points: “I am very proud of my team because it was a hard-fought victory. It was a very difficult match because Croatia is a good team, so after such match we are inspired to continue trying hard to stay in this competition for as long as possible.”
Croatia’s head coach, Saša Ivaniševi?, was also proud of his team’s performance despite the loss: “We feel sorry for the defeat, as we showed fighting spirit and our girls represented Croatia bravely. Unfortunately, in the fifth set, France showed more experience and that was crucial. But we are moving on, forgetting about this defeat and preparing for the next match.”
“I must say that we left our hearts on the court. We had a chance to win, but unfortunately, we made some mistakes with the serve, which is usually our strength. But we are already thinking about our next match and looking forward to it,” said Croatia captain, Mirta Freund, while her teammate, Andrea Mihaljevi? who recorded 24 points, added, “Our desire to win was huge. We showed that we can compete with them, but we lacked a little bit of luck. We are looking forward to the next match, this one defeat means nothing if we play with same desire and fighting spirit in our next match.”
France will continue their journey in the tournament on August 24 against Bulgaria, while Croatia will play against Turkey.
In the second match of the day played in Osijek, Turkey left very little chance to Bulgaria, storming to a comprehensive 3-0 victory.
“It was important to start the tournament with a victory,” said Turkey head coach Sahin Catma. “We are going match by match, giving our best, but we are very happy with such big win against Bulgaria. The day after tomorrow we are playing against Croatia, so we must prepare accordingly because they are a really good team.”
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