CEV: Italy add second victory to keep clean sheet at #EuroVolleyU20M27.09. 2020
Italy keep a perfect record at this year’s #EuroVolleyU20M in the Czech Republic after recording a second 3-0 victory in as many matches they have contested in Pool I this far. On Sunday, the ‘Azzurrini’ beat Poland 3-0 in the first match of the day in Kurim, even though the match was a very close affair almost from start to end. The hosts from the Czech Republic suffered their second 2-3 setback – this time at the hands of Serbia after on Saturday they had had to accept a tiebreak loss to France. The Netherlands started their campaign in Pool II with a 3-1 victory over Germany to upset the group that won U18 gold two years ago in Zlin.
On Saturday, Italy and Poland had recorded comprehensive 3-0 victories in their Pool I opening matches with Belgium and Serbia, so many expected their clash would be a very close fight. It did actually turn out to be such a battle, with Italy having the upper hand at the end of closely contested first and second sets. This provided an extra boost to Italy who controlled the game in the third set, even though Poland put up a fight until the very end.
Angiolino Frigoni, head coach of Italy: “Poland is a good team, and they play especially good with their attack and block. Today we made more mistakes than we usually do. We started very well but then we produced some mistakes and Poland fought back, thus my players were a little nervous. However, we know how to play point by point and how to finish such a set in our favour.”
Sebastian Pawlik, head coach of Poland: “I would like to congratulate the team of Italy, they played good volleyball today. We did not play too bad either, I think, and only little details decided that Italy was better today. I am glad that we can fight against such a strong team because we did not play any important tournament until now. I hope we will play better and better with each match and we will achieve a good result here.”
Belgium vs. France 3-2 (24-26, 25-20, 23-25, 26-24, 15-9)
In a match between neighbouring countries, France showed some great defence and made it very hard for the Belgian hitters to go through their block and score some points. However, Belgium managed to find their way back into the match with their service game. France took the first set but Belgium responded by putting much pressure to draw level at the end of the second set. The third and fourth sets were very tight, full of long rallies, and both teams fought for every ball. In the tiebreak, the Belgian hitters showed more mental toughness, and the young Red Dragons eventually celebrated their first win in the competition.
Kris Eyckmans, head coach of Belgium: “It is a very important victory after losing against a strong team from Italy yesterday. I am glad we put up a great fight tonight and even though we trailed many times by three to five points, we kept fighting and this is very important for our team spirit. I think we can still make some progress in our next games. Overall, I am very happy because tonight it was very tight and it could have gone either way, but in the end we controlled our game better.”
Marc Francastel, head coach of France: “Both teams have good quality but we did not play well in the end of the sets and I think that after we lost the fourth one, we lost the game a little bit in our heads and because of that, we struggled in the tiebreak.”
After losing their respective first matches on Saturday, the Czech Republic and Serbia were vying for their first victory in the competition. After a close start, the home side broke away in the first set and did not look back anymore, eventually securing a 2-0 lead in the match. However, Serbia responded swiftly, they did not make as many mistakes anymore and they claimed the third and fourth sets quite with ease. Serbia stretched that momentum into the tiebreak, with the Czechs losing their second five setter in as many matches, this time after wasting a 2-0 advantage.
Ognjen Niketic, captain of Serbia: “We started the match really bad but we changed our game with the help of some players from the bench. We believed in ourselves and tried to do our best to get our first victory from this European Championship.”
Premysl Obdrzalek, head coach of the Czech Republic: “Today’s result is of course a shame, because we played quite well in the first two sets. Unfortunately, after that, Serbia started to play much better and we could not respond to that. We need to get up and show tomorrow that we know how to play Volleyball.”
Brno finally welcomed the two teams that were yet to play their first match in the competition. Germany, the U18 European champions from two years ago, started with confidence and even with the support of some loud-cheering fans among the crowd. On the other side of the net, the Netherlands surprised everyone when they took control of the game in the second half of the first set and dictated the tempo up until the end. Germany improved their serving and put a lot of pressure to disrupt the Dutch game in the second set. The Dutch team took more risks in the third and fourth sets, played with a nothing to lose attitude and after a nerve-wracking fourth set, the young Oranjes could celebrate their first victory in the tournament.
Dan Ilott, head coach of Germany: “The first game is always a tough challenge and we did not play at our best level. We showed some great plays but there were many ups and downs for our team. The Netherlands were more consistent and they put a lot of pressure on us with their service game.”
Arnold van Ree, head coach of the Netherlands: “The first match of such a tournament is always very hard and I am so happy for the guys that we won. Germany put up a great fight in the end and I am so happy that we managed to win in four sets because the last rallies were a little bit shaky.”
www.cev.eu, photo: CEV