Serbia have managed to make a surprise by defeating France at their home court at tie break, to reach the final of the European Championship after Slovenia.
Serbia had to handle the pressure from the rival and about 13.000 French fans during the match. They managed to do it in an amazing way as they played at an impressive level in the fifth set, won with a clear score of 15:7.
If often we could hear the voice of the legendary singer of the Queen Freddie Mercury at the arena in Paris, it was like a motive for the Serbian team to create their own rhapsody.
France controlled the situation at the start of the match, keeping the advantage almost all the time. Laurent Tillie’s team made a huge pressure on the reception of the rivals. However, Serbia was managed to reduce the lead of their opponents to only one point, but they couldn’t do anything to save the set point and France took the lead in the match 1-0.
In the second set, we saw an amazing performance of Serbia, who created an eight-point adavantage 19:11! However France, with some Ngapeth’s and Lyneel’s serves, managed to save five set points! Julien Lyneel was on fire, but at the result 24:23 for Serbia, he made a footfault, touching the service line and Serbia leveled the game at that moment 1-1.
Serbia have kept their level of play even in the third set, giving just a small space for the attackers of France. It was a very balanced match until 16:16 when Kovac’s team managed to create a 3-0 scoring run and to give themselves a huge advantage. The hosts couldn’t find a solution out of this situation and they let Serbia win this set.
The fourth set went completely in the domination of France, and after a huge adavantage of Tillie’s team 17:9, it was clear that both teams started preparing for the tie-break!
Serbia opened the decisive part of this thrilling match with a 5-0 run thanks to great serves of Nemanja Petric and a great block. Stephen Boyer was a player who ended the streak of Serbia, 5:1. However, after just a few minutes, Serbia had a 9:2 lead but thanks to Ngapeth the French team decreased the lead to 9:4, even if France simply couldn’t find a solution for Serbia’s strong serve and they just watched how the Serbian lead was increasing until 14:6. Serbia had 8 match points in front of a fully packed hall in Paris, and the hosts saved just one match point before surrendered. Ant the end is 15:7.
Aleksandar Atanasijevic had a great performance, scoring 27 points while Uros Kovacevic also contributed with 18 points. On the other side, Earvin Ngapeth scored 29 points, and Stephen Boyer added 19 points.
Serbia will meet Slovenia in the final on Sunday in Paris, while Poland and France will battle tomorrowfor the bronze medal.
Nemanja Petric – Serbia’s captain:
“Our dream is the gold medal. We gave everything to be here. We’ll need to be concentrated as we’ll face a really good team in the final. Slovenia have shown amazing volleyball until now and I’m sure they will repeat. But we also played our best volleyball and I hope we won’t give up, as was the case against Ukraine and France.”
Laurent Tillie – France’s head coach:
“We’re feeling disappointed of course because we fought a good game, we lost because we started the tiebreak so badly. We were exhausted, we lost confidence, but Serbia played so well. Spikers, blocks… You can just congratulate Serbia.”
Nikola Jovovic – Serbia’s setter:
“We’re all happy, it’s like a dream. It’s the first final for this generation, definitely one of the biggest wins in front of I don’t know how many fans. Like Slovenia, we want to win this gold medal.”
Trévor Clevenot – France’s outside hitter:
“We still have the bronze medal match tomorrow, it will be important to be on the podium for this European championship in France. Tonight, it was a big battle. We knew we would face a really strong opponent, they served really well. It all came down to the tiebreak where they put a lot of pressure on us right away.”
2019 CEV European Volleyball Championship – semifinals:
Source: CEV. Photos: randomvolley