Slovenia created major upset at the 2019 CEV European Volleyball Championship by eliminating the reigning champions Russia and qualifying for the semifinals!
Slovenia’s players didn’t give much of a hope to their fans in the Preliminary Round of EuroVolley: Alberto Giuliani’s team finished second in Pool C with a 3-2 score. However, after Slovenia surpassed Bulgaria in the eighth-finals, now, they complete the work, defeating also defending champions Russia in the quarter-finals!
Slovenia had already met Russia in the competition, precisely in the Preliminary Round, and suffered heavy defeat (0-3). But tonight, it was visible that co-hosts learned from mistakes and gave to more than 11,000 own fans at Dvorana Center Stožice in Ljubljana plenty of reasons for happiness: 3-1 (25:23, 25:22, 21:25, 25:21).
Tine Urnaut was the top scorer for Slovenia with 13 points, while Mitja Gasparini served 5 aces. Russia’s head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo entrusted Viktor Poletaev a role of a starting opposite hitter over more experienced Maksim Mikhailov, while another major star Dmitriy Muserskiy played only the first two sets. Poletaev was Russia’s most prolific player (and top scorer of the match) with 20 points. Egor Kliuka served 4 aces (scored 8 points in total in the first set!), while Dmitriy Volkov made 4 winning blocks.
Jan Kozamernik – middle-blocker (SLO):
“This is crazy. I was dreaming about this and I knew one day it will happen. We have the best fans in the world. I cannot describe all my feelings. We left our hearts on the court, we did everything to win this game. We are going for the gold.”
Alberto Giuliani, head coach (SLO):
“Sure I believe in these guys, because I know them very well. This evening against Russia we played unbelievably well on attack, on serve. Together with these magic supporters, it is difficult for the opponent teams to win against us.”
Tuomas Sammelvuo, head coach (RUS):
“These are interesting sporting moments, when you win easily the previous game and then the next game is always a war from the opening on. We knew perfectly that they will serve very very well. I have to congratulate Slovenian team, they played a great game, they attacked very well their high balls, not in our block but searching different angles, and on the other hand we had many problems with our attack in the first two sets. Today they were a lot better.”
Igor Kobzar, team captain (RUS):
“First set was important. We played point by point and we had four or five situations in which we made mistakes and gave chance to Slovenian team who took adventage of them. It was difficult to change the game. Before the game we were the favorites and that was pressure for us. Slovenian fans gave crazy energy to their team and they were better thanks to that.”
2019 CEV European Volleyball Championship – quarter-finals:
Source and photo: CEV