Another big match in Ljubljana turned into a victory celebration for the majority of the about 11,500 fans on the stands at the Stozice: Slovenia delivered another great upset. After Bulgaria in the eighthfinals and Russia in the quarterfinals of EuroVolley 2019, it was world champions Poland’s turn to suffer a four-set defeat at the hands of a very inspired home team.
So, in the first semifinals, the co-hosts Slovenia kicked out the world champions Poland from the semifinals of the 2019 EuroVolley: 3-1 (25:23, 24:26, 25:22, 25:23). Slovenia will fight for the gold medal at the continental championship, for the second time ever, against the winners of France vs. Serbia match, on Sunday, September 29, in Paris (France).
What a stunt! And we remind you that Poland dropped only one set in the previous 7 matches!
Each of the sets was a battle to the last drop of sweat. In first set Poland had a five-point lead, however they could not hold on because the hosts scored four in a row to step ahead in the score, 24:22, for the first time in the set before closing it at 25:23 with a block by Alen Pajenk on Wilfredo Leon.
The second set went quite the opposite way, with Slovenia that manteined the led for the most part to be the first to reach set point, but Poland reacted with three points in a row and after the equalizer (24:24), Mateusz Bieniek entered the court and scored two points in a row of which the second one was from the block, to take an advantage just in time for a 26:24 ending.
After 6:6, the third set was dominated by Slovenia. The hosts, led by captain Tine Urnaut (seven points, including the winning one), increased the gap to 5 points (16:11) and Poland were unable to return. 25:22 for Slovenia.
The fourth set was quite balanced through 22:22, when Urnaut followed up on a successful spike with an ace to take the match point. Two serving errors later, Slovenia celebrated with a 25:23 victory.
Poland’s Wilfredo Leon was the best scorer of the match, with 22 points, including four aces and three winning blocks, while Tine Urnaut scored 18 times for the winning side and Jan Kozamernik made 70% attack (7/10).
Maciej Muzaj – opposite (POL):
“It’s hard for me to speak now – we had different goals, different thinking about this tournament. We wanted to play in the Grand Finale for the championship. The opponent played a really good match tonight. We gave it our 100 percent but it was not enough tonight. No doubt the crowd was a great support to the hosts. It’s not that it hindered us, but clearly gave wings to Slovenia.”
Dawid Konarski – opposite (POL):
“It’s a tough moment but this is the first opponent who set forth hard conditions and today we didn’t play what we have played so far. Slovenia are upper-shelf rivals. We had the ball on our side, we had the counters but they looked really bad tonight. I don’t know the statistics, but when we had the ball in the air we did not convert it into points. Not being able to finish the balls on your side makes the opponent win – that’s all. Tonight we are sad but we need to reset soon – bronze medal is also important.”
2019 CEV European Volleyball Championship – semifinals:
Source and Photos: CEV