2018 FIVB World Championship – WOmen’s European Qualifier
- May 23 to June 4
No. 5 Turkey survived a scare, edging host Bulgaria by the slimmest of margins to remain atop Pool C. Switzerland and Romania also won on Saturday in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Switzerland 3, Montenegro 0
Montenegro led at the first timeout in Sets 1 and 2, 8-7 and 8-3, but the advantage had faded in favor of the Swiss by the second timeout in each stanza. After that, it was all Switzerland in the 25-22, 25-16, 25-17 win.
The Swiss hit at a 50 percent clip and put up eight blocks in the win, overcoming 21 miscues, including 12 service errors.
“I feel great,” Switzerland’s Sarah Troesch said “We wanted to win today because last year we played Montenegro twice and we won one out of two matches. Therefore, our goal was to win again and the team did a great job. We executed everything our coach told us and we are really happy with the result.”
Maja Storck put down 17 kills and added two blocks for a match-high 19 points. Madlaina Matter and Laura Kuenzler added 13 points apiece. Matter added two blocks and two aces to her nine kills, while Kuenzler managed 12 kills and an ace.
Ana Otasevic scored 11 points, with eight kills and three blocks, for Monetenegro.
“Congratulations to Switzerland, they deserved to win today,” Montenegro coach Dragan Nesic said. “They played much better than us. We didn’t play well in attack and our serve was weak too.”
Turkey 3, Bulgaria 2
Bulgaria actually outscored Turkey 109 to 101, but it was two extra blocks in the decisive fifth set that gave the Turkish side the victory and likely the pool’s bid to the World Championships.
No. 5 Turkey won the match 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 13-25, 15-13, despite serving up just two aces and being outhit 46 percent to 39. Turkey did win the blocking battle 19-18.
Turkey led 21-18 in Set 1, only to see Bulgaria rally for the 25-23 win. In Set 2, the Turkish came back from a 16-14 deficit to grab the 25-23 victory and level the match. Another rally in Set 3, this time from 21-18 down to win 25-23. Bulgaria turned it on in Set 4, tallying five blocks and four aces in an easy 25-13 win. Turkey jumped ahead 5-1 in the final set and held off a late rally as Bulgaria closed to within one at 14-13 after trailing 12-4.
“It was a great match,” Turkish coach Giovanni Guiedetti said. “I want to congratulate Bulgaria because they played very, very well. They are a strong team. I’m proud of my team because we really fought hard for the whole match, from start to end. We only had a sort of blackout in the fourth set. I think we were a little bit luckier in the tiebreak but we deserved this victory because we played really well from the beginning of the match. I congratulate my team, but I have to congratulate Bulgaria as well! I think it was great volleyball show today!”
Neriman Ozsoy led Turkey with 15 points, despite missing the fourth set due to injury. Ozsoy managed 11 kills and four blocks. Meryem Boz (15), Eda Erdem Dundar (14), Gozde Kirdar (13) and Kubra Akman Caliskan (10) also posted double-digit scoring efforts. Akman Caliskan managed a team-best five blocks.
Elitsa Vasileva and Emiliya Nikolova turned in 24 and 21 points respectively to pace Bulgaria. Each tallied 19 kills, while Vasileva added four blocks. Hristina Ruseva (17) and Dobriana Rabadzhieva (13) followed.
“We were really close to the victory but for me the most important thing is the full sports hall,” Bulgaria’s Nasya Dimitrova said “This kind of support energizes us very much and adds a lot of adrenaline. Our run towards the World Championship will continue in the next qualification round. This is not the end!”
Romania 3, Kosovo 0
Romania more than doubled the output of newcomer Kosovo in a 25-12, 25-12, 25-13 win to wrap Saturday’s action.
Despite using several substitutions in preparation for Sunday’s showdown with Switzerland, Romania outblocked Kosovo 6-2 and outserved them 7-2. A 61 percent hitting effort also aided in the quick win.
“We were really focused during the match,” Romania’s Adriana Vilcu said. “We knew that Kosovo is not the best team here but we must play with respect to any opponent. Tomorrow I expect a really tough game because Switzerland is a good team. We know them, they know us. We will see what happens.”
Andreea Maria Petra scored 10 points to lead all hitters, with seven kills and three blocks. Roxana Iancu added eight points.
Florentina Deliu put up six points for Kosovo, all on kills.
“This was possibly our best match here,” Kosovo coach Lorik Ilazi said. “We played really well in attack. I hope we can continue playing in the same way tomorrow as well.”