CEV: Russia end Italy’s winning streak to retain #EuroVolleyU20M crown04.10. 2020
Italy’s impressive winning streak at #EuroVolleyU20M in Brno ended on Sunday, when the ‘Azzurrini’ lost the gold medal match to Russia 1-3. The players coached by Mikhail Nikolaev triumphed in a very close match to retain the title claimed two years ago in The Hague by an older generation and make amends for the 1-3 loss they had suffered at the hands of Italy at last year’s U19 World Championship in Tunisia. Belgium regrouped after their painful loss to Russia in Saturday’s semis to storm to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Belarus and secure their third bronze medal in the competition – after achieving this same feat in 2012 and 2018. France and Poland claimed their classification matches with the Netherlands and Germany to finish the tournament on a high note – and in fifth and seventh place, respectively.
Gold medal match
Italy vs. Russia 1-3 (23-25, 25-12, 24-26, 25-27)
Italy and Russia had progressed to the final act of the tournament with a perfect record – with Italy not dropping a single set along the way. This let everyone expect a terrific final showdown for the climax of the tournament, with Russia claiming a close first set 25-23. The ‘Azzurrini’ found their best game in the second set, where they stormed to a speedy 25-12 win in 18 minutes only. However, the third set was again very close until the end with Russia eventually having the upper hand. The very same thing happened in the fourth set where Russia triumphed after cashing their third match ball.
Mikhail Nikolaev, head coach of Russia: “This is a very good and successful day for us. I have been waiting for this match for one year. We all wanted to take revenge for the defeat we had suffered at the U19 World Championship last year.”
Angiolino Frigoni, head coach of Italy: “I expected a hard match against this team. Today we did not play as we did in the previous matches, especially in reception and with our service. This way, we paved the way with gold for Russia to win this match and the title.”
Bronze medal match
After two sets, it looked like Belgium would run away with the bronze medals without any problems. However, Belarus finally found their rhythm in the third set, where they claimed a 21-17 advantage. Belgium responded to draw level at 23-all and a dramatic final section ensued – with Belarus missing a few set balls before Belgium eventually capitalised on a match point to finish the match in their favour and secure the bronze medal for the second straight edition of the U20 competition.
Ruslan Seliauka, assistant coach of Belarus: “Belgium played very well today. We had problems in reception and with our serve. We are sad that we did not manage to win the third set.”
Kris Eyckmans, head coach of Belgium: “When you lose the semi-final like we did yesterday with Russia, there is only one option – winning the bronze medal. I am still a little bit disappointed that we missed such a big opportunity yesterday and the players were sad too last night. However, during the breakfast time earlier today, I told them to focus just on this match and they did it. We pushed extremely hard from the beginning so I am satisfied as a coach. The third set was very tight and I am very happy with our victory. We have a second bronze medal in two years.”
Classification match 5-6
France vs. The Netherlands 3-2 (25-17, 21-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-9)
France started the match with much intensity, easily claiming the first set, before the Netherlands responded swiftly to seize the second. The match was a very close affair throughout, with the only exception being the tiebreak where France set the pace from start to end to secure a 15-9 win and with it, fifth place in the final standing of the competition.
Marc Francastel, head coach of France: “We are very happy with this result and the fifth place because the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our preparations for this championship. We came here without playing any friendly match before. Therefore, this was a good tournament for us, except for the match with Italy. We played the way we planned, not always at such a high level but always with all of our hearts.”
Arnold van Ree, head coach of the Netherlands: “It was a big sight from our side for two and a half hours, with the only exception being the tiebreak. The level was a little bit lower after the very, very emotional happy end from yesterday’s match against Poland.”
Classification match 7-8
Germany vs. Poland 0-3 (16-25, 18-25, 20-25)
Poland needed 47 minutes only to claim a 2-0 lead in the classification match for places 7-8 with Germany. Even though Germany caught a promising start to the third set (8-5), Poland responded swiftly, thus storming to a comprehensive 3-0 victory and secure seventh place in the competition. The top scorer of the match was Bartosz Gomulka of Poland with 22 points.
Dan Ilott, head coach of Germany: “I am disappointed with the performance; we did not play our best Volleyball, particularly in attack today. The team that attacks the best is usually the winner and today that role clearly belonged to Poland. This tournament has been difficult for us because of the current situation. We have much work to do but we are very happy to have had a chance to play and clearly we need to play more.”
Sebastian Pawlik, head coach of Poland: “I am happy that our team fought even in the most difficult moments. We had many health problems and even though we did not play for fifth place today, we remained focussed and concentrated. It was not easy to find focus and energy to play this kind of game but we did it and that is why I am happy.”
1. Russia *
2. Italy *
6. The Netherlands
10. Czech Republic
* Qualified for 2021 FIVB U21 World Championship
Outside hitters: Tommaso Rinaldi (ITA) and Omar Kurbanov (RUS)
Middle blockers: Wout D’Heer (BEL) and Iurii Brazhniuk (RUS)
Opposite Hitter: Ferre Reggers (BEL)
Setter: Paolo Porro (ITA)
Libero: Ilia Fedorov (RUS)
MVP: Alessandro Michieletto (ITA)
www.cev.eu, photo: CEV