Favorites Dominate in European Qualifier Pool A

  0 Wendy Mayer | May 24th, 2017 | European volleyball, International Volleyball, News


Pool A play of the European Qualification for the 2018 FIVB Men’s World Championships got under way Wednesday in Lyon, France. Turkey, Germany and France got a leg up in the pool with sweeps on Day 1 of the competition. France is the top ranked team in FIVB Men’s European rankings entering the competition, while Germany is seventh and Turkey 15th. All three beat lower ranked foes.

Turkey 3, Azerbaijan 0
Turkey led the first set from start to finish, leading by as many as six en route to the 25-21 win. Azerbaijan led Set 2 early, but fell behind by four at 16-12 and despite tying it up late could not hold off the 25-21 Turkish win. The Turkish side closed out the win by racing out to a 16-6 start in Set 3 and pushing on to a 25-13 drubbing.

Turkey hit at a .490 clip for the match, while holding Azerbaijan to a .390 effort. The Turkish team served up nine aces to one for Azerbaijan.

Yigit Gulmezoglu led the Turkish side with 18 points, including 16 kills, a block and an ace. Gokhan Gokgoz added 11 points, including six aces.

“This is our first official match together,” Turkish coach Josko Milenkoski said. “I joined this team one month ago only. We have some problems with injuries, and some of the best players are not here but we are satisfied with this result, especially since we won in three sets. Now we are taking it one match at a time. The most important matches, against France and Germany, are coming soon.”

“In every tournament the first game is always difficult,” Turkish captain Arslan Eksi said. “We are a young team, and we did not play any friendly games before coming here. As a result, this is a good start. Tomorrow we play Iceland and it will be a good preparation for us for the next game against France. For a first day, the result is ok. We will fight for every game.”

Vugar Bayramov managed seven points to lead Azerbaijan.

“We struggled in reception,” Azerbaijan’s Aleksey Chervyakov said. “We were often behind and did not manage to take advantage of some situations. We fought for two sets but could not do the same in the third one.”

Germany 3, Ukraine 0
Germany served up eight aces in the match and hit at a 63 percent clip in a 25-16, 25-20, 25-19 win over Ukraine on Wednesday.

Germany never trailed in either of the first two sets, instead leading by as many as 10 in Set 1 and six in Set 2. The Germans took an 8-2 lead in Set 1 and went on to lead 16-8 and 21-12 en route to the win. In Set 2, Germany went up 8-5 and built the advantage to 16-10 and 21-16 before closing out the victory. Ukraine led 8-6 early in Set 3, but Germany rallied to a gain a 16-13 edge midway through in a 25-19 win to wrap up the sweep.

“The first match of a tournament is never easy but we started well especially with Grozer and good services,” Germany coach Andrea Giani said. “It was an interesting game because Ukraine is a strong team. I think we have good chances to qualify but we will play against big teams such as Turkey and France, the reigning European champions, whom I played in the 2015 final with Slovenia. We have a lot of potential but it won’t be easy.”

Gyorgy Grozer led all hitters with 13 points, including a match-high 12 kills, in his first match back with the team since announcing his retirement in January 2016. Denys Kaliberda (10) and Christian Fromm (10) also posted double-digit point tallies, including eight kills apiece. Fromm also served up team-best two aces.

Ukraine hit 42 percent for the match, including a 50 percent success rate by top hitter Vasyl Tupchii, who scored 12 points and put down 11 kills. Maksy Drozd and Andrii Kutsmus added seven kills apiece. Andrii Diachkov served up all three of the team’s aces.

“They came out with strong services, it was truly something huge and we were not able to handle this situation,” Ukraine coach Ugis Krastins said. “During the third set, we controlled our game much better and found confidence but still the Germans were stronger. Every game represents for us a new lesson to learn.”

France 3, Iceland 0
The reigning European champions from France trailed briefly at the start of Set 2, but otherwise dominated Iceland in a 25-8, 25-8, 25-14 sweep. The French side outblocked Iceland 10-0, served up eight aces to one and hit at a 58 percent clip, while holding their foes to a 22 percent effort.

France jumped ahead 8-3 in all three sets and never looked back, increasing the advantage to 12 points at the second break in Set 1 (16-4), 10 points in Set 2 (16-6) and eight points in Set 3 (16-8). The match took just 57 minutes.

“The most important thing was to respect the other side, that means to play at our best level and that is what we did,” French captain Benjamin Toniutti said. “We need to think immediately about tomorrow’s match against Ukraine, a physically strong team. We will have to be patient and to play clever as we are used to do.”

Stephen Boyer managed a match-high 14 points, including eight kills, four aces and two blocks. Thibault Rossard followed with 10 points, including a team-best eight kills and two blocks.

“We knew it was going to be difficult, but it was a good first match for us,” Iceland coach Rogerio Ponticelli said. “It was the first time we played in such a big sports hall, with this kind of top players on the other side of the court. You could feel a lot of positive vibe and energy.”

Alexander Stefansson and Kjartan Fannar Gretarsson managed three points apiece for Iceland.


Pool A in FRA

Matches W L Pts.
1 1 0 3
1 1 0 3
1 1 0 3
1 0 1 0
1 0 1 0
1 0 1 0


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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for Volleymob.com after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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