CEV: Italy record sixth straight 3-0 victory to play Russia for #EuroVolleyU20M gold04.10. 2020
Italy are simply going from strength to strength at #EuroVolleyU20M in Brno. On Saturday, the ‘Azzurrini’ captained by Alessandro Michieletto recorded their sixth straight 3-0 victory in the tournament, routing Belarus in the semis to claim a spot in Sunday’s gold medal match. There, they will be trying to secure Italy’s first gold in the competition since the 2012 edition co-hosted by Poland and Denmark. Their opponent will be Russia – after the players coached by Mikhail Nikolaev came from behind to edge Belgium in a dramatic tiebreak. After winning Saturday’s semis, Italy and Russia have secured their participation in next year’s FIVB U21 World Championship as well. Live streaming of the gold medal match will be available on the CEV’s YouTube channel here.
Elsewhere, France and the Netherlands emerged victorious from their tiebreakers with Germany and Poland to lock horns on Sunday for fifth place. Germany and Poland, on the other hand, will finish the tournament by contesting the match for places 7 and 8.
Italy had played five matches in Pool I recording five victories without dropping a single set in the process. Belarus, on the other hand, had played three matches only in Pool II after the withdrawal of Ukraine and Turkey last week, winning twice and losing to Russia. Italy were not to stop and they recorded their sixth straight 3-0 victory, courtesy of 21 points scored by their captain Alessandro Michieletto to secure the right to vie for gold on Sunday.
Angiolino Frigoni, head coach of Italy: “I am satisfied not because we won 3-0 but because we played and fought very well. We served pretty well today and were good in defence and attack too. My players are doing what they should after having such a good preparation. Now we are waiting to know the name of our opponent in the final.”
Sergei Trotski, head coach of Belarus: “It was a tough match. We did not play good in defence and reception. Italy played better and they put much pressure on us with their service.”
Russia vs. Belgium 3-2 (25-17, 19-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-13)
Russia started the second semi-final by imposing their rhythm before Belgium broke away towards the end of the second set to level the match. The young Red Dragons performed extremely well in the third set too, before Russia came from behind to change the course of the game in the fourth set (12-14, 18-20, 25-22). It looked like Russia were going to reign supreme in the tiebreak where they claimed a 5-1 early lead but Belgium responded swiftly to make it 10-all. The drama continued until the very end with Russia eventually securing a 15-13 win to play Italy for gold in an effort to retain the title a previous generation of players claimed two years ago in The Hague. Belgium, on the other hand, will play Belarus in the ‘small final’ hoping to secure their third European bronze medal in this age group after achieving this feat in 2012 and 2018.
Mikhail Nikolaev, head coach of Russia: “It is very good that we will play the final but we played very bad today with many mistakes. It is somehow a lucky thing that we won in the end.”
Kris Eyckmans, head coach of Belgium: “I am disappointed because we had some chances to win the game, especially in the fourth set where we had a two-point advantage for quite some time. However, sometimes we had bad luck, while sometimes we did nor execute things the way we should have – so the fourth set eventually went Russia’s way. Even though we had the opportunity to win 3-1, we eventually lost and that is a pity.”
France vs. Germany 3-2 (25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 19-25, 15-9)
France and Germany opened the programme of the next-to-last competition day in Brno with an exciting five setter. Even though the score remained close for most of the time, France claimed a 2-0 lead in the match but after that, Germany played with more accuracy and consistency to sweep the following two sets. France controlled the tiebreaker from start to end to secure the right to play for fifth place on Sunday, with Germany contesting the match for positions 7-8 instead.
Marc Francastel, head coach of France: “It was a difficult match because we somehow lost control of the game and we started to panic a bit. However, my young players can only benefit from this experience. We will see how it goes tomorrow, taking it a step at a time. The whole team contributes to our victories and this is very important.”
Dan Ilott, head coach of Germany: “The French team was good and we did not start very well, especially in attack. The third and the fourth sets we played very well and were good in reception. We knew France is a good serving team and unfortunately, the last set was our worst in reception and this made it difficult for us to score. Despite this, I think this was a better performance than what we showed in the last match. Of course, it is not easy to accept that you lose such a close match.”
Just like the earlier tie between France and Germany, the second match scheduled for Saturday at Vodova sports hall in Brno lasted for five sets as well. The young Oranjes claimed the first set before Poland responded with a comprehensive 25-18 win in the second. The course of the game changed another two times in the third and fourth sets before the tiebreaker was a real drama and close race up to 12-all. The Netherlands had two match balls at 14-12 and despite failing to capitalise on the first, they eventually finished the match off at 15-13 in their favour. The Netherlands will play France for fifth place on Sunday, with Poland taking on Germany in the matchup for places 7-8.
Arnold van Ree, head coach of the Netherlands: “It was good match played on a high level. I have to congratulate my players because they put up a very good fight. This applies to the whole team, and not only to the six or seven players who started the match on the court. Therefore, I am very happy. We will finish the tournament playing France. We know it will not be easy, since they play a completely different style and we have a very short time to prepare.”
Sebastian Pawlik, head coach of Poland: “We fought and we tried to push as much as possible. I am not angry because of the loss, but rather because of some strange decisions made by the referees.”
www.cev.eu, photo: CEV