The Netherlands – Belarus 1-3 (22:25, 31:29, 19:25, 21:25)
It was a battle between the opposites in the first two sets: Radzivon Miskevich for Belarus scored six points after the first set, while Nimir Abdel-Aziz hit back with 14 in the second set alone. After the first two sets, Abdel-Aziz was up 18 to 12 on Miskevich. Top scorer of the match was Nimir Abdel-Aziz with 30 points, while Radzivon Miskevich was the best for Belarus with 18 followed by Andrei Radziuk with 16 and Siarhei Busel with 13.
Viktar Beksha, head coach of Belarus: “We are really glad that we won this game. I think our block-defence system worked perfectly, however in my opinion the most important in this match was the third set, since after losing 31-29 we didn’t give up and we played very wisely. I am very proud of my team, it is a historic achievement for Belarus. My players have a very strong character, and they always fight until the end. Tomorrow we will try to show our best volleyball and win the gold medal.”
Radzivon Miskevich, opposite of Belarus: “We are very happy that we booked a spot in the Challenger Cup and in the #EuroLeagueM gold medal match. We achieved that for the first time in the history of our national team. Tomorrow we also want to win. I think that the team spirit is our greatest advantage, during the group stage we had games, when we didn’t play technically good, but we still played like a team and it was our key to success.”
Nimir Abdel-Aziz, captain of the Netherlands: “Our game was off today, far more than that it was on. They played a good match, but we never underestimated them. However, if you don’t reach your own level, you can’t win the match. Even the set we won, we relied on a few moments of inspiration. We won fighting, but never showing our own game. And that wasn’t enough.”
Roberto Piazza, head coach of the Netherlands. “It is difficult to explain why we lost. There are two different situations for me. One is about transition, where we do not score the point on the first attempt, and we have to keep playing. The second one is emotion, where we have to grow a lot. Before this match we were better on all aspects of the game, except for blocking. Today we were not able to score points.”
Turkey – Estonia 3-1 (25:23, 22:25, 25:21, 28:26)
In front of 2,500 spectators, it was a high level match, illustrated by the attack efficiency that was 56% for Turkey over 55% for Estonia. Turkey remain unbeaten in the Golden League now for eight matches, winning all of their group stage matches and now have beaten Estonia. Adis Lagumdzija from Turkey was top scorer with 25 points, while Robert Täht was just one point behind him as the best scorer for Estonia.
Arslan Ekşi̇, captain of Turkey: “For us it is very nice to be in the final because when you win against a strong team like Estonia in their home, we experience more happiness. I am very grateful to my teammates, everyone played very nice volleyball. Now we will play Belarus in the final, and we know it will be a very tough match. We are in the same group of EuroVolleyM, it will be a good game I think. I am very happy that we are in the Challenger Cup in Slovenia, but first we will have to play like we did in the semi-final, or even better to beat Belarus tomorrow.”
Nedim Özbey, head coach of Turkey: “It was a really hard game, because we expected a different combination in the line-up of the Estonian team. At the beginning it was tough for us, but later we managed to play our game. Tomorrow, we also want to win, to gain the trophy. For the first time ever Turkey play in the grand finale of the European League, therefore it is so important for us and we hope to win and take the cup to our country. We are ready for it, we only have to play our best volleyball. We are really motivated after this game. We would like to thank the spectators, because they were great, we really enjoyed their enthusiasm.”
Robert Täht, top scorer for Estonia: “Both teams wanted this victory so bad. I think that it was seen also from the crowd that everybody on the court fought to the end. The match ended three-one, but it was very close. It’s volleyball, in the end of the sets both teams have to make really good and quick decisions. In the fourth set, we failed a couple of times in making the right decisions and the Turkish players used that to their advantage. All sets we had started being 4 or 5 points behind and we had to catch up. This tournament is in Tallinn at our home, we are going all in tomorrow. We want to win, we want to claim the bronze medal. It does not matter that we have gold from the previous edition, we play at home and we want to win.”
Gheorghe Cretu, head coach of Estonia: “It was a tough match. The Turkish game is based on serve and side-out, we knew it and we were prepared. When we were able to serve well and caught up the score, they were starting to struggle, because their side-out was not working anymore. At the beginning of the third set, it was weird, as we were not able to attack the ball. I do not ask for perfect reception, but I ask for reception which leads to attack. If three balls after reception go to the other side of the net, you get frustrated. I am satisfied that regardless of difficult situations in the beginning of the sets we were able to come back to the game. I am proud of my players. This team achieved a lot in the last five years, things which no one believed would be possible. We have to accept that sometimes the opponent can be better than us, it is a lesson to get better and smarter in some situations.”
Source and Photos: CEV