The Serbian Women are 2017 European Champions – Recap and Highlights

  0 Liam Smith | October 01st, 2017 | European volleyball, International Volleyball, News


As was lately expected, Serbia beat the Netherlands to take home the European continental crown. And it did so in very convincing fashion, a 3-1 gentlemen’s sweep to cap off a dominating tournament run that saw them lose only two sets throughout all  competition.

The Serbian squad is today the hardest workers in female volleyball, always fighting against improbable odds in its way to constant over achievement.  In this tournament specifically, coach Zoran Terzic was without 7 injured players, including his two main setters. But, just like in last year’s Olympic games, injuries and a torn roster wasn’t enough to keep them out of the podium. These time around, though, things are just a little bit sweeter, as they will take home the gold medal.

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Below, you’ll find complete CEV Recaps and highlight videos from today’s matches, which includes Turkey’s win against Azerbaijan for the bronze medal:

Gold Medal Match: Serbia vs. The Netherlands (25-20, 25-22, 18-25, 25-18)

Serbia capped a perfect campaign at the 2017 edition of the women’s EuroVolley with a 3-1 victory over the Netherlands (25-20, 25-22, 18-25, 25-18) to claim their second European title in history – to go with the gold medal they won at home in Belgrade in 2011. The ‘grand finale’ of the tournament was a truly exciting match, with the best of women’s Volleyball on offer – but Serbia were too much to stand even for the highly motivated Dutch team, who could be happy with winning back-to-back silver medals from Europe’s premier Volleyball competition. Only three years after claiming the U19 European title, Serbia’s superstar Tijana Bošković can call herself a ‘senior’ European champion at the age of 20 – crowning her journey in the competition with the award for the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

The Netherlands and Serbia added another chapter to their rivalry – but for the first time there was as much at stake as the continental crown. They had crossed swords only a week earlier in the pool phase in Ganja – where Serbia had stormed to a 3-0 victory, one of four such wins out of the five matches they had contested at #EuroVolleyW going into the ‘grand finale’. Both these teams stand out for the depth and quality of their roster – and this became obvious from the early stages of the match with the Netherlands claiming a very small edge (8-6) before Serbia slowly but surely increased their tempo (17-14) with Tijana Bošković, Brankica Mihajlović and Stefana Veljković all rising to the occasion. Their block was working just fine and they played with such an intensity that even the highly motivated Dutchwomen could not keep up with such impressive pace (25-20).

The Netherlands put up a fight – as much as they had done back in the pool game – and looked much determined not to make life easy for Serbia. However, the ‘Oranjes’ were not able to stand the challenge brought by their mighty opponents – who spiked powerfully and cleverly from every angle to double their lead in the match (25-22).

The team coached by Jamie Morrison played courageously in the third set – their efforts resulting in 10-6 and 13-8 advantages, which looked promising towards cementing their chances of re-opening the fate of the game. A five-point lead at the second technical timeout was something to capitalise on for the Netherlands – and they did so as they dominated the late stages of the set (25-18).

Serbia’s had just dropped their second set in the tournament but their scoring machine promptly resumed its march in the fourth set – and this applied especially to the likes of Bošković, Mihajlović and Veljković. However, the Netherlands fought with all they had, thus contributing to some of the most spectacular and entertaining rallies the audience witnessed in the match. Veljković stamped a monster block on Celeste Plak to make it 14-11 Serbia’s way and shortly afterwards Bošković added a single block on Anne Buijs to extend the Serbian lead. It was just the opposite than in the previous set – this time Serbia had a five-point advantage at the second technical break and they were not to stop anymore with MVP Bošković deservedly sealing their 3-1 victory (25-18).

Here are the post match reactions:

“I still have to fully soak it up; obviously we are very happy and satisfied. We are very proud for being European champions, and especially with the way we have become European champions. We almost did not provide any opponent with an opportunity to beat us – and because of this, I am very proud of my team, my players, my staff and everybody else. Of course, it will be very difficult to repeat this kind of performance but I hope we cannot only stay where we are, but still grow because this is almost a new team. I am sure that we can play even better than we did here – so that we can take a medal from next year’s World Championship in Japan.” Zoran Terzić, head coach of Serbia

“I am of course proud of my team. Two years ago, we were in the final as well and Russia beat us up. This time we made another step forward and we got closer to the gold medal. I think the details made the difference today and we could have been cleaner in that – but anyway Serbia played better tonight and it is a deserved win for them. Tomorrow I will go back to Holland and on Tuesday, I will go to Poland to start working with my club Chemik POLICE. On Friday we have the Supercup, so I will just continue from here.” Maret Grothues, team captain of the Netherlands

“This loss is bittersweet – I am still proud of the team and I think that a lot of people did not expect us to in the best two of this tournament. I think we believed in ourselves and I am so proud that we made it to the final. However, Serbia are so strong and so complete, that they managed every aspect of the game in the best way – and they were hitting above our block. We stuck to our tactics but they still scored – so they did a really good job. I am proud that we continued to fight, we came back in the third set but I wished for more. Two years ago, we lost to Russia in three sets, so this is some improvement on that. After losing two European finals in a row, I hope that the next one will be ours.” Lonneke Slöetjes, player of the Netherlands

“I think I will be happier in about three, four days – when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will be a little upset but it is an accomplishment because we were able to equal what we accomplished the last time we were in this tournament. Serbia played extremely well, and as I said, we will learn from it to get better. There are those matches where you feel like you shot yourself in the foot and this is something that cost you the match. There are also matches where you have to tip your head to the opponent – right now without watching the video I am tipping my head to Serbia.” Jamie Morrison, head coach of the Netherlands

Bronze Medal Match: Azerbaijan vs. Turkey

Azerbaijan’s dream of a historic #EuroVolleyW medal was a short lived one. The hosts caught a promising start to the bronze medal match with Turkey but they could not keep that same pace for long and their opponents eventually stormed to a 3-1 victory (22-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-8) to silence an almost sell-out crowd in attendance at the National Gymnastics Arena for the second day in a row. As a result, Turkey celebrated their third European Championship medal in history – to go with the silver and bronze they won in 2003 and 2011, respectively. This is quite an achievement for a team, which had such a rough start to the tournament. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, have to be content with fourth place, thus equalling their result from the 2005 edition and what they achieved at the European Games two years ago as well.

After their ‘heart-breaking’ loss to the Netherlands in the semi-finals, Azerbaijan took for one last time to the court of the iconic National Gymnastics Arena, chasing their first-ever European Championship medal. Turkey were the opponent standing on the other side of the net – and Azerbaijan had to erase memories from two painful losses they had suffered to the ‘Sultans of the Net’ when hosting the inaugural European Games in 2015. Back then, Turkey won 3-0 in the pool and 3-2 in the semis, before taking gold – as Azerbaijan had to be content with a disappointing fourth place.

The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr Ilham Aliyev, paid one more visit to the 2017 women’s EuroVolley hoping to share with thousands in attendance a historic moment for the country’s Volleyball and sports family. The match started at a relatively slow pace with either side able to break away until Azerbaijan finally did so shortly after the second technical time-out (19-16) with the help of their star player Polina Rahimova. Turkey responded swiftly (20-19) but Azerbaijan did not tremble and resumed their march towards a 25-22 win.

Turkey rushed to a 6-2 lead in the early stages of the second set before two consecutive aces by Rahimova levelled the count at 7-7. Azerbaijan eventually edged ahead at 9-8 on a second tempo attack by middle blocker Kseniya Poznyak but Turkey were up to the challenge – as Gözde Kirdar and Neriman Özsoy set the tempo of their game and helped level the match (25-21) and stay in contention for the third European Championship medal in Turkish history.

Turkey had a rough start to the tournament last week losing two matches in a row in their pool before pulling out a 3-1 victory over Ukraine to stay ‘alive’ in the competition, but they improved with every match – with the only exception being Saturday’s semi-final with Serbia – and that was evident in the bronze medal game as well. A sound overall performance produced a compelling 16-8 lead for the players coached by Giovanni Guidetti as Azerbaijan, on the other hand, made too many mistakes and even Rahimova was far less effective than earlier in the match. Azerbaijan’s coach Faig Garayev substituted Rahimova and a few more players from his starting six – but to no avail as Turkey comfortably cruised to a 25-14 win.

At this stage, Azerbaijan had no other option than to fight back if they wanted to fulfill their dream of a historic European Championship medal on home soil – and the audience was likely to play a role as well in an effort not to miss out on such opportunity. However, the players of Azerbaijan looked kind of ‘frozen’ as they quickly trailed 0-5 in the fourth set and even the loud support from the stands could not help the hosts change the course of the game (2-8). Turkey realised they were getting closer to the achievement of their goal and continued to push as much as they could – and they were rewarded for their efforts as anything they attempted worked out just fine and produced a massive 25-8 score to seal their 3-1 victory.

Here are the post match reactions:

“Actually it was a really hard tournament for us. We played very good games and bad games; we fought a lot in some of the matches whereas in others we did not do quite the same. Yesterday it was a very bad game for us; we did not fight at all but in the end we reacted very well. This bronze medal is so important for our country, for ourselves – I am so proud of this team. This was my last game with the national team, so I am happy to finish with a medal. Thank you everyone!” Gözde Kirdar, player of Turkey

“I am really happy for my players – especially for some of them, for whom this was probably the last match with the national team. We started our season with the dream of winning a medal – and we grabbed the medal in the end. Therefore, this result is very important for us, for the players, for the Federation – and the Volleyball fans in Turkey as well. This is my first year with Team Turkey, so this is a very good start.” Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of Turkey

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