Eurovolley Pool C: Russia beat Turkey, victories also for Finland and Slovenia.
The titleholders Russia National Team start the 2019 CEV European Volleyball Championship with a victory in Pool C in Ljubljana (Slovenia).
The most-titled side of the competition (14 titles including predecessors Soviet Union and CIS) beat Turkey in the opening of this year’s edition of a tournament with a score of 3-1 (25:13, 23:25, 25:17, 25:15). However, the players coached by Tuomas Sammelvuo, who are the reigning FIVB Nations League winners as well, dropped one set to their rivals. It was the second set in which Russia had a comfortable lead of 4 or 5 points but was unable to stop Turkey’s prospect opposite hitter Adis Lagumdžija who finished the match as the only player on his team with a double digit performance (15 points). As for Russia, Dmitriy Volkov was their top scorer with 16 points, including 4 of Russia’s 14 aces.
Adis Lagumdzija – opposite (Turkey)
“Russia are a team of world-class champions, one of the best teams at this Championship if not even the best. They are the best team in our pool. We are satisfied how we played. We played as a team. We had a few series of mistakes, with five, six errors, which should not happen this level. If we improve the reception, we have good chances against North Macedonia tomorrow.”
Dmitriy Muserskiy – middle-blocker (Russia)
“It was very tough to start the first match of the championship. All team was a little bit worried about the result, that’s why we had good motivation to win. We won the first set very easy and in the second set we were relaxed, which is why we lost it. It was a cold shower, we needed to improve our game and concentration. Everyone felt more confident in third and fourth set.”
Igor Kobzar – setter and Russia captain
“It was first game and we were a little bit nervous. We started a bit slowly and did not find our best game and best conditions. It was tough, not easy. But after second set we won really confidently, and we are happy to go straight. Today it was very important to find our game and start this championship to find our level.”
Tuomas Sammelvuo – head coach (RUS)
“In the first match we are searching our play rhythm. We served pretty well today, serve and reception were a lot better in the opening, but in the second set, probably after easy first set and we were winning in the second set, we had a few minutes of lack of concentration, like always in volleyball, it becomes difficult. But I am happy that we lost the second set because we did not deserve to win it. Then the team played really focused and we won with confidence.”
In the second match of the opening day in Pool C, Finland spoiled the debut of North Macedonia at European Championship. They beat rivals in four sets but broke the resistance of North Macedonia only after 116 minutes of a play. Finland showed an impressive blocking display (15 winning blocks in total) of which 5 were made by Tommi Siirilä. As much as 11 players of Finland scored at least one point, and Urpo Sivula was the best scorer with 17 points. Interestingly, three players of North Macedonia scored the same number of points (14): Nikola Gjorgiev, Risto Nikolov and Aleksandar Ljaftov.
Risto Nikolov – middle-blocker (MKD)
“It’s not individuals, it’s the team that is important. We have to improve our block and defence. We have to forget about this match now. We did a lot of elementary and unnecessary mistakes. Next game we have to play better. We have to be confident, raise our heads and move forward.”
Filip Despotovski – setter (MKD)
“Finish team had better tactics than we have. They were better in some elements of the game. They studied us well and that’s why they had the edge today.”
Joel Banks – head coach (FIN)
“Our fighting spirit was the key. Some guys from the bench helped our team and really made the difference. I am happy with the team performance and over the moon with our first win, I am very pleased with the players, they showed character, heart and team spirit. I’m hoping that the guys will continue to believe in themselves, have the confidence and believe in our fans, We won a game, now we play 3 in the row, We are underdogs against Slovenia but that will be a challenge for us.”
Urpo Sivula – opposite (FIN)
“We started our game with a little bit of panicking because we thought that we really need to win the game against North Macedonia. At the beginnig it was really hard for us but then we started getting into our own rythm which made everything a lot easier. We made some unnessecary mistakes but it was our first game in the tournament, so we will improve for sure. After all we have an amazing support from our fans. Slovenia strong but we will fight, stick to our plan and hope for the win.”
Slovenia, the 2015 EuroVolley finalist, had a good tournament opening, beating Belarus in straight sets (25:17, 25:14, 25:19). Mitja Gasparini, Tine Urnaut and Jan Kozamernik scored 12 points each for Slovenia, while there were no players with double digits in Belarus.
Alberto Giuliani – head coach (SLO)
“It was a good game, but difficult. The score was not close, particularly in the first set, but the first match is a difficult match, because you are nervous at the start of the tournament. The guys played very well, particularly in jump, block, serve. We have created clear situations for block, defence, counter attack. We have done a lot of work in preparation for this tournament. This is only the little first step, the first match. We wait and stay with feet on the ground. ”
Siarhei Busel – middle-blocker and team captain (BLR)
“Today we didn`t play our best game, we made too many errors in reception and serves and we all played very bad. It was also difficult to play against home team and the home crowd in this arena, as we have only had one practice here. We`ve played strong against Slovenia in the VNL qualifications in July but this time we just couldn`t build our game after such bad reception throughout the whole game.”
Viktar Beksha – head coach (BLR)
“Today I think my team was a bit nervous before the game, our reception was very bad and without reception you can`t realise any attacking balls. Slovenian team played very good in defence, they have caught our attacks and after that returned with counter-attacks. We look forward towards the next matches, as today we played a really, really bad game.”
Tine Urnaut – outside-hitter and team captain (SLO)
“I think that tactically we have played really great. We were agressive from the first point, we took advantage of our great float service. We managed to make a big difference and at the end take a win. Jan Kozamernik was great at the service, we’ve played excellent defence. We didn’t let Belarus play their game, however I think that they are a great team and they will be a big challenge for all the opponents in pool C.”
2019 CEV European Volleyball Championship, pool stage – Day 1:
POOL A (Montpellier, France)
Bulgaria – Greece 3-0 (25:22, 25:16, 25:20)
Portugal – Italy 0-3 (21:25, 10:25, 22:25)
France – Romania 3-0 (25:19, 25:14, 25:16)
POOL C (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Turkey – Russia 1-3 (13:25, 25:23, 17:25, 15:25)
Finland – North Macedonia 3-1 (25:23, 25:22, 23:25, 25:21)
Slovenia – Belarus 3-0 (25:17, 25:14, 25:19)
Source and photos: CEV