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#GoldenEuropeanLeague: Abdel-Aziz leads Netherlands in a thriller against Spain. Slovakia, Croatia and Czech Republic scored their first victories.

Yesterday, in Day 2, national teams of Slovakia, Croatia, and Czech Republic scored their first victories in the 2019 CEV Volleyball European Golden League. But what happened?

Pool A:

Slovakia enjoyed their first victory in this year’s European Golden League by beating Latvia away in a very balanced tie-break in Riga (25:21, 27:25, 24:26, 25:16, 19:17). Top scorers of the match were Atvars Ozoliņš 22 points for Latvia, and Filip Gavenda with 20 points for the winning side. In Slovakia, Peter Ondrovič was author of 6 winning blocks.

In the same pool, Turkey downed Belgium in four sets on the road in Brussels to get a perfect score after two games played. Top scorers of the match were Lou Kindt with 25 points for Belgium, and Adis Lagumdžija with 22 points for Turkey, while Çağatay Durmaz made 4 winning blocks and Burak Mert 93% positive reception (15 digs, 40 excellent).

Arslan Ekşi̇, captain of Turkey: “We are satisfied, for us the victory is important. After the first set, we started playing the way we wanted. In the fourth set we were a little tired, as you could see. We have won two matches, now we will go to Slovakia for the third game.”

Brecht Van Kerckhove, head coach of Belgium: “We had a better start to the match than in the first one. But we also had a stronger opponent. So we were happy to start like this. You can then see that they can even go one level higher. They were playing a higher level than us. With a young team this is to be expected. We need to learn from this and take it with us to Latvia for our third round.”

Pool B:

Croatia took advantage of playing at home in Varaždin to win their first match in the competition, coming back from a set down against Estonia and playing a fantastic match especially in the third set: 24:26, 25:20, 25:13, 25:21). Estonia is still winless. Top scorers of the match were Leo Andrić with 24 points, inclunding 4 aces, while Filip Šestan was author of 75% positive reception (20 digs, 1 error, 60% excellent), while for Estonia, Kristo Kollo scored 16 points.

Emanuele Zanini, head coach of Croatia: “It really was a very interesting game for us, the second one of the European Golden League. Honestly, in the first set we played some good volleyball, but Estonia was able to play better than us. That’s why they won the first set. We kept calm and continued to play our standard. After that, we were able to win the game. In the third set, the level of our opponent fell. We are satisfied, after a month we can see that we are a team on court and we could take our first victory here in Croatia.”

Tsimafei Zhukouski, captain of Croatia: “We had a little bit of a hard start. In the first set we probably felt a little pressure because it was our first match at home. In the second, third and fourth set we were relaxed and started to play our game. We did a very good job in practice over the last few weeks and I hope we will continue like this.”

Until this moment, each pool has one team with a perfect record after two games! In Pool B, it is the Netherlands who prevailed over Spain in front of their crowd in Soria, but only after five sets. Top scorers were Andrés Villena 19 points, while Alejandro Vigil made 4 aces for Spain, while for Netherlands, Nimir Abdel-Aziz played an excellent match with 27 points, but also his team-mate Thijs ter Horstl author of 4 aces and 74% excellent attack (17/23, 1 error, blocked once) and Fabian Plak made 4 aces.

Alejandro Vigil, player of Spain: “I think we really didn’t play a good game. We had some problems in reception and block also. We must be able to step up, because I think we have a great group. We must continue working to achieve our goals.”

Nimir Abdel-Aziz, captain of the Netherlands: “We won again a difficult match, with a lot of ups and downs. I think it was normal, we are in the beginning of the summer, we are a new team and the level is not that high. We work to reach the Final Four.”

Pool C:

Despite being two sets down against Ukraine at home court in Brno, Czech Republic ended the match in a victorious way after a great duel, to gain their first victory in the competition: 17:25, 20:25, 25:18, 25:18, 15:13). Top scorers were Jan Hadrava with 16 points and 74% excellent attack (14/19, blocked once) on the winning side, while in Ukraine Volodymyr Tevkun scored 17 points and Maksym Drozd 5 winning blocks. (CLICK HERE FOR GALLERY OF THE MATCH)

Michal Nekola, head coach of the Czech Republic: “Unfortunately we did not start well and we returned to the game in the middle of the second set only. All the players who came in, helped the team and picked it up. From the third set we were a better team and we won deservedly.”

Ugis Krastins, head coach of Ukraine: “It was a very different match, for the first two sets we controlled the game very well. Then we produced many mistakes and the Czechs started to serve much stronger. During the last set we had chances but did not use them. This is sport.”

In this Pool, Belarus remained unbeaten as they swept Finland in straight sets on home ground in Minsk. Top scorers of the match were Andrei Radziuk 14 points, while Siarhei Busel made 4 winning blocks in Belarus, and Samuli Kaislasalo scored 22 points for Finland.

Joel Banks, head coach for Finland: “I think one of our biggest problems was the serve today, we made a lot of mistakes. But I think we played in general a better game than we did against Ukraine. We had a chance in the first and second set. And in the third set we couldn’t hold on. Two sets close, one set clearly for Belarus.”

Aliaksei Kurash, player of Belarus: “We had a task to beat them out of reception, so we took a lot of risks on the serve. From the very beginning we felt confidence. I think the match against Ukraine will be the most difficult for us. All players there are very experienced.”

2019 CEV Volleyball European Golden League – Day 2
RECAP OF THE RESULTS.

Pool A:

Latvia – Slovakia 2-3 (21:25, 25:27, 26:24, 16:25, 17:19)
Belgium – Turkey 1-3 (25:22, 14:25, 22:25, 21:25)

Pool B:

Croatia – Estonia 3-1 (24:26, 25;20, 25:13, 25:21)
Spain – Netherlands 2-3 (16:25, 25:18, 24:26, 25:22, 12:15)

Pool C:

Belarus – Finland 3-0 (25:23, 25:23, 25:20)
Czech Republic – Ukraine 3-2 (17:25, 20:25, 25:18, 25:18, 15:13) —GALLERY

2019 CEV Volleyball European Golden League – Day 1:

POOL A: Belgium – Slovakia 3-2 (14:25, 21:25, 25:19, 25:21, 15:13)
Turkey – Latvia 3-0 (25:21, 26:24, 25:20)

POOL B: Spain – Estonia 3-1 (25:18, 25:18, 21:25, 25:19)
The Netherlands – Croatia 3-2 (25:20, 17:25, 26:24, 20:25, 15:10)

POOL C: Finland – Ukraine 1-3 (30:28, 22:25, 17:25, 22:25)
Belarus – Czech Republic 3-1 (19:25, 25:18, 25:20, 27:25)

Source: cev
Photos: cev, randomvolley.com

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