In the last round of CEV Volleyball European Golden League the only decisive match for qualifying for the Final Four was the match between Ukraine and Belarus. The winner was Ukraine, but it was not enough for qualifying for the final four: the two sets won by Belarus were enough to secure the top spot in Pool C and to join Estonia, Netherlands and Turkey in Tallinn.
Slovakia – Belgium 3-1 (21:25, 25:22, 25:20, 25:21)
Tomas Krisko from Slovakia with 19 points and 73% in attack was the best player of the match, while in Belgium Lou Kindt with 20 points was the best scorer. Slovakia finished third in the Pool A, ninth overall, two places better than last year.
Andrej Kravarik, head coach of Slovakia: “It is great that both of our teams made the fans happy today in Poprad. Our performance was good today, much better than on Wednesday in Humenne against Latvia. We had team spirit, we fought and we showed our game – what we should have done during the whole competition. I think Turkey was the best team in our Pool and they will be the favourites in the Final Four. We finished two places better that last year, but I think that even though we missed some experienced players, we were able to show more.”
Lou Kindt, opposite for Belgium: “We played at high level in the first set, then we slowed down a little bit. We could not find the right solutions. In the fourth set it was better again, but it was not enough; Krisko served really well in the end. We cannot be satisfied with the results, we had some injuries and played with a young team, but we could have played better in this competition.”
Latvia – Turkey 0-3 (18:25, 16:25, 14:25)
Turkey are the only team to finish the pool phase of the 2019 European Golden League unbeaten.
Guntis Atars, assistant coach of Latvia: “We showed a poor performance today. We started with a number of players from the second unit and unfortunately, we lost to the opponents in all aspects of the game. We are upset at how we lost in front of our fans. But we will learn also from this match. In general, I think we had a good tournament except for the last game. We showed a good performance during this competition and for such a young team, the final result is respectable.”
Erkan Togan, assistant coach of Turkey: “Six games and six wins – great feeling. We started the match with some new players and they played great, so that is an extra victory for us. Now we will fly to Estonia for the Final Four and we hope to get at least to the final. I think we deserve it because we have practiced hard and have played very well this far. The team has a good atmosphere and it all together brings the result.”
Croatia – Netherlands 3-0 (25:19, 25:23, 25:22)
Filip Sestan from Croatia and Thijs ter Horst from the Netherlands were the top scorers of the match with 14 points. The Netherlands had already booked their ticket to the Final Four last Wednesday as they beat Estonia 3-0.
Emanuele Zanini, head coach of Croatia: “Today was not easy, playing again after three days. We just came back from Spain. I have to congratulate my players for finding the motivation and energy to play a good match against the Netherlands. Unfortunately, even though we have more points than the Netherlands, we cannot qualify as group winners. Anyway, for us it is important to grow, tactically and mentally. So in the European Golden League we demonstrated that we took an important step and increased our level, our competitive spirit and the organisation of the team.”
Estonia – Spain 0-3 (24:26, 23:25, 20:25)
In Estonia, Rauno Tamme was the best scorer with 9 points. Andres Villena from Spain with 15 points was the top scorer of the match. Spain finished with three victories to claim second place in Pool B while Estonia were fourth with only one victory.
Robert Täht, outside hitter of Estonia: “We did try hard and it felt good before the match. But when it started nothing really was going our way, we did not find good solutions and lost our heads too fast. Spain were the better team tonight and deserved the win for sure.”
Ukraine – Belarus 3-2 (23:25, 25:23, 25:22, 23:25, 15:11)
Ian Iereshchenko and Yurii Semeniuk scored 17 pints each for Ukraine. Radzivon Miskevich with 22 points and Siarhei Busel with 13 were the top scorers for Belarus.
Finland – Czech Republic 2-3 (25:18, 25:27, 15:25, 25:51, 13:15)
Czech Republic took their fourth victory beating Finland 3-2 on their home ground in Mikkeli. However that was not enough to qualify for the Final Four. Finland lost all six matches in the competition, winning only four sets. Jan Hadrava from Czech Republic was top scorer of the match with 24 points.
Joel Banks, head coach of Finland: “We had a chance to win this match. The Czech players are very experienced and played very well. I am of course very disappointed for our results in the Golden League, but I think our young team has a lot of potential in the future.”
Michal Nekola, head coach of Czech Republic: “We started the match very badly, especially in reception. After that, we made some substitutions and new guys helped us improve our game. This was a very close match except for the third set. We are very happy to win the last game and that we won four out of six matches. It is of course a disappointment that we didn’t qualify to the Final Four.”
FINAL FOUR PROGRAMM:
The programme of the semis at Saku Suurhall in Tallinn:
16:00 The Netherlands – Belarus
19:00 Turkey – Estonia
The bronze and gold medal matches will follow on Saturday, June 22, starting at 16:00 and 19:00 local time. The winners and runners-up of the Golden League will qualify for the FIVB Challenger Cup due to take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia in early July – whose eventual winner will secure participation in the 2020 edition of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Source and Photos: CEV