Championship Round Match-ups Are Set. EuroVolley Day 4 Recap

  0 Liam Smith | September 25th, 2017 | European volleyball, International Volleyball, News


Only three games were played in EuroVolley’s final day of pool play. While Turkey and Ukraine faced off against each other to decide the fate of the tournament’s last available playoff stop, with the Turkish squad ultimately coming out victorious, the remaining teams played for favorable seeding,

Italy, Azerbaijan, Serbia, and Russia each finished first in their group, which won them a trip straight to the quarterfinals. The remaining classified teams will undergo a simple playoff round to advance to the quarterfinals:

  • Italy will face the winner of The Netherlands vs. Croatia, to be played tomorrow.
  • Azerbaijan will face the winner of Bulgaria vs. Germany, to be played on 9/27
  • Serbia will face the winner of Belarus vs. Czech Republic, to be played tomorrow.
  • Russia will face the winner of Poland vs. Turkey, to be played on 9/27

Below, you’ll find updated pools and complete CEV Recaps from all of the day’s action:

Pool A

Pos Team Pld W L Pts SW SL SR SPW SPL SPR Qualification
1  Azerbaijan (H) 3 3 0 9 9 1 9.000 244 191 1.277 Quarterfinals
2  Poland 3 2 1 5 6 6 1.000 258 250 1.032 Playoffs
3  Germany 3 1 2 4 6 7 0.857 267 285 0.937
4  Hungary 3 0 3 0 2 9 0.222 220 263 0.837

Azerbaijan vs. Germany 3-1 (25–19, 19–25, 18–25, 18–25)

Azerbaijan were once again off to a rusty start – similar to what happened in their previous matches with Hungary and Poland, but this time around the hosts could not make up for it. Germany, on the other hand, played with a lot of composure and resilience to set the pace of the game – and even though Azerbaijan put up a fight, Germany would hold on to their early lead, eventually securing a 25-19 win. This setback coincided with the first set dropped by Azerbaijan since the beginning of the tournament – much to the surprise of the fans in attendance, including the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who visited the women’s EuroVolley for the third time in four days.

Azerbaijan found back their rhythm in the early stages of the second set (10-7) but Germany were up for more – playing with no pressure, as following Sunday’s victory over Hungary they had secured their progression to the knockout stage of the competition, the ‘Butterflies’ were free from any inhibition. Azerbaijan’s four-point advantage at the second technical time-out grew as the set progressed – and the home stars could level the match (25-19) following a double block on Germany’s opposite Louisa Lippmann.

The third set was pretty much the same with Azerbaijan leading the way at the first technical time-out (8-5) and Germany putting up a fight and responding with a level of intensity and quality they had not showed before in the tournament. The Germans had a couple of opportunities to draw level but failed to do so – as Azerbaijan’s superstars Polina Rahimova and Natalya Mammadova scored repeatedly to spark further enthusiasm among the local fans and double the home side’s lead in the match.

Azerbaijan did not lose composure in the fourth set – where their tempo was something Germany could not match anymore and after dictating the pace from start to end, they eventually celebrated their third victory in the competition – a joy they shared with 3,400 raucous supporters in attendance.

Here are the post match reactions:

“We always play to win, and it did not make any difference that we were playing the hosts of this tournament and a team as strong as Azerbaijan. Our start to the match was very promising and we took the first set. This was a boost to our morale and we very much hoped to continue the same way but they raised the level of their game – and could not match the experience and quality of their players. We have a very young team, whereas they are experienced enough to find ways to adjust to the conditions and cope with the difficulties they initially had.” Lenka Dürr, libero of Germany

“I think we played an amazing first set, maybe even above the level we have at the moment and I am extremely satisfied with this and it will give us a lot of confidence. The problem was in the experience of Azerbaijan’s team. These players – Mammadova, Rahimova, they played already in the 2007 European Championship while we had four, five players on court today, who have never competed in EuroVolley before, so the difference in experience between these two teams is simply huge. On top of this, they have royal-class spikers, I think unlike any of the teams in this tournament, who showed their class today.” Felix Koslowski, head coach of Germany

“We are very happy – as we move on straight to the quarterfinals from first place in our pool. The match against Germany was difficult since we felt tired after yesterday’s emotional game with Poland. After the first set, we showed some good Volleyball and eventually achieved the desired result. Tomorrow we have a rest day for our team and we will start to prepare for the quarterfinals.” Famil Aghayev, assistant coach of Azerbaijan

It was a very tough game. In the first set, we could not find our rhythm, but after that, we started to play as we know. Some players were not in a good shape today but we knew we needed a victory. We can now focus on the quarterfinals and we will enjoy some rest after the difficult matches we had in the group stage. We will come back stronger than ever in a couple of days.” Kseniya Poznyak, middle blocker of Azerbaijan: “

Pool B

Pos Team Pld W L Pts SW SL SR SPW SPL SPR Qualification
1  Italy 3 3 0 8 9 3 3.000 264 232 1.138 Quarterfinals
2  Belarus 3 2 1 5 7 5 1.400 254 226 1.124 Playoffs
3  Croatia 3 1 2 5 7 7 1.000 303 257 1.179
4  Georgia (H) 3 0 3 0 1 9 0.111 142 248 0.573

No games today.

Pool C

Pos Team Pld W L Pts SW SL SR SPW SPL SPR Qualification
1  Russia 3 3 0 7 9 5 1.800 312 299 1.043 Quarterfinals
2  Bulgaria 3 2 1 5 8 7 1.143 313 298 1.050 Playoffs
3  Turkey 3 1 2 4 6 7 0.857 287 282 1.018
4  Ukraine 3 0 3 2 5 9 0.556 279 312 0.894

Russia vs. Bulgaria 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21, 15-13)

The last day of pool play at the iconic National Gymnastics Arena in Baku started with the matchup featuring Russia and Bulgaria – a clash due to determine the eventual winners of Pool C and the side progressing straight to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Bulgaria caught Russia off guard and rallied to a compelling lead in the opening set before the reigning European champions surged back towards the end with an impressive series of consecutive points. However, their comeback came too late to make up for their early deficit and the ‘Lionesses’ sealed their win (25-21) with the help of their rising star Gergana Dimitrova.

Irina Filishtinskaia propelled Russia to an early 4-1 lead in the second set while standing behind the service line – and their block worked impressively to set the score at 8-3 at the first technical time-out. Irina Voronkova, who had stepped in for Mariia Frolova, was especially effective on the Russian side of the net (15-7) as Tatiana Kosheleva and Nataliya Goncharova slowly but surely found their rhythm as well (19-12). Bulgaria somehow emulated what Russia had done in the previous set – storming back to reduce their deficit to only three points at 20-17, thus prompting a time-out by Russia coach Konstantin Ushakov. The break did not produce the desired effect, with Bulgaria closing in at 20-19 – yet Russia held on to close the set in their favour (25-20) with a direct pass by Kosheleva.

As the match moved on to the third set, Bulgaria found back the quality and intensity they had displayed in the early stages of the game (8-4) but the Russian block turned out to be an insurmountable obstacle for the ‘Lionesses’ who soon afterwards ended up trailing 9-13. Bulgaria tried to change the course of the set by replacing starting setter Lora Kitipova with Diana Nenova – and this move stabilised their game, with Elitsa Vasileva & Co. eventually edging ahead at 22-21 on an ace by Hristina Ruseva. Two points in a row by Vasileva paved the way towards Bulgaria’s first set point and in no time, their 2-1 lead was there as Voronkova spiked out of bounds in her effort to level the count.

Bulgaria’s show of strength continued in the fourth set (8-3) and even though Russia put up a fight, the ‘Lionesses’ were able to keep a small edge also after winning a challenge, which overruled the initial decision of the referee showing a touch by the Russian block to send the teams to the second technical break (16-14). The level of intensity and drama increased as the set progressed (19-19) before Kosheleva and Goncharova rose to the occasion to add another tiebreak to an impressive series registered in Pool C so far.

Russia stormed back from a 4-7 deficit in the fifth set (7-7) and even though Bulgaria fought with everything they had to come from behind themselves and make it 13-13, the reigning European champions were the ones to prevail in the end – with Goncharova sealing the 15-13 win that takes them straight to the quarterfinals.

Here are the post match reactions:

“We are obviously happy with the result, we fought from start to end of the match and even though there were moments where things did not work out perfectly, we did stick together, followed the instructions of our coach and fought until the end. We expected such a close match with Bulgaria; this did not surprise me at all, because we know the quality of their team and that they play very aggressively, which is what they did today. The result speaks for itself: it was a battle and a close fight until the very end.” Irina Voronkova, player of Russia

“We lost two sets, yes, but this should not surprise anyone, because Bulgaria have a very good team with quality players. I think it was a good match – from both sides and it could have gone either way. We should not underestimate the importance of this result and victory since we were facing an extremely tough opponent.” Russia coach Konstantin Ushakov

“It was a good game. After winning two five-setters, today came another one and it was extremely tough to play after our two previous matches, as we were already tired, but I am happy that despite this we played really well and were close to winning this. Playing against Russia is not different from facing any other team. We knew that we can play well against them and this match showed that it was true.” Elitsa Vasileva, player of Bulgaria

Turkey vs. Ukraine 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23)

The last match in the pool phase of the 2017 women’s EuroVolley was a live-or-die bout for both Turkey and Ukraine as they had lost their previous matches with Russia and Bulgaria, and not without any regrets.

Ukraine, who were making their first EuroVolley appearance since 2011, had lost two tiebreaks and Turkey were not in a much different position – as they had suffered four- and five-set setbacks to Russia and Bulgaria, respectively. If Ukraine had been the major sensation of the tournament so far, Turkey had performed far below the expectations and it was a matter of honour and prestige for the star-studded roster coached by Giovanni Guidetti to make it to the Playoff stage of the tournament.

Turkey enjoyed the obvious support of the Azerbaijani audience and they seemed to draw the right inspiration from their favourite song, Aleyna Tilki’s ‘Sen Olsan Bari’, as they finally performed to the level fans and experts expected from them – sweeping Ukraine aside with a very consistent performance to claim a 2-0 lead in the match.

The third set was a much closer affair with Ukraine claiming a three-point advantage at the second technical time-out – and some changes to their initial starting line-up eventually propelled them to a 25-20 win, which kept them alive in the match and in the tournament as well.

Turkey resumed their run in the early stages of the fourth set (4-1) with Neriman Özsoy looking extremely effective in attack and their game nicely orchestrated by setter Naz Aydemir. As a result, they slowly but surely grew their advantage (17-10) before Ukraine closed in within one point at 21-20 with a series of impressive blocks. Turkey’s lack of a leader at this tournament became once again obvious and Ukraine eventually edged ahead at 23-22 with the help of their captain Nadiia Kodola. Turkey had a first match point at 24-23, and they eventually secured their survival in the championship after a challenge on a touch of the antenna overruled the initial decision of the referee.

Here are the post match reactions:

“This was a tough game! We knew that Ukraine played very good Volleyball against Bulgaria and Russia. We had some friendly games before this tournament and both our teams knew each other very well. We had a good start, but in the third set, something started to go wrong – maybe for a lack of concentration when we made some unforced errors – and they used that to come back. Later in the fourth set, we were 19-12 up but struggled with our side-out and our tactics and they caught us again, but in the end, thanks God, we won, passed the group phase and now we have to think about the game against Poland.” Eda Dündar, team captain of Turkey:

“This is our tournament! We like to suffer in every match and for every point. What a tough match for us this was – we had everything to lose and nothing to win. I understand the tension of the players. In the end, we did it, even though we are still having problems with the attack and we need to solve this for the coming matches. What is important tonight is that we are in the next round, that we won one match and that we played two and a half sets of very high-level Volleyball against a team that put Bulgaria and Russia in trouble.” Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of Turkey:

“We are happy with our journey at this European Championship, because we performed well and we presented ourselves in a good way. Of course, we wanted to make it out of the group phase. Our coach was rather happy despite the loss – he said we played a good match, and we fought until the end. Unfortunately, we lost but we did our best, so he did not have much to complain about.” Oleksandra Peretiatko, setter of Ukraine:

“We played two tiebreaks with Russia and Bulgaria, we lost two close matches and as a result, the final matchup in the pool with Turkey became an all-deciding one. Ukraine competed at the European Championship for the last time six years ago and as a result, I am of course satisfied with the way we played here. Unfortunately, my players are not used to play this kind of all-deciding matches – like the one we had today with Turkey, therefore they underperformed in the first two sets as they obviously felt the pressure. We came back strong in the third set and did the same in the fourth where we trailed by as many as seven points. If we had taken that fourth set, we would probably be talking about a different result, but that is sport. Of course, I wished we would have made it to the next round.” Gariy Yegiazarov, head coach of Ukraine:

Pool D

Pos Team Pld W L Pts SW SL SR SPW SPL SPR Qualification
1  Serbia 3 3 0 9 9 1 9.000 253 217 1.166 Quarterfinals
2  Netherlands 3 2 1 6 6 5 1.200 261 234 1.115 Playoffs
3  Czech Republic 3 1 2 3 4 7 0.571 241 264 0.913
4  Belgium 3 0 3 0 3 9 0.333 254 294 0.864

No games today.

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