Portugal made the first major upset at the 2021 CEV Men’s Volleyball European Championship by beating Belgium 3-2 (25:23, 25:22, 20:25, 18:25, 15:13) in the second day of Pool A in Kraków, Poland.
This can be considered a huge upset given that Belgium were considered certain qualified to the playoffs before the event but now, after two defeats in as many matches, they are absolutely in trouble.
On the other hand Portugal, who lost to hosts Poland in the opening match, is the underdog in the pool. However, today, they took two precious points in the fight for progress to the knockout stage.
In a very balanced match in which every single point was crucial for the outcome, Alexandre Ferreira stood out on the winning side with 21 points, while Miguel Tavares set up four blocks. Phelipe Martins made 71% attack (10/14, one error, blocked once), while Ivo Casas had 70% reception (30 digs, three errors, 57% excellent). Sam Deroo scored 23 points for Belgium.
Alex Ferreira, outside hitter of Portugal: “We had a very good start. I think that serve made a huge difference, they know how to play volleyball so we had to push them with our service, because defence and block are not our strengths. We were a little bit down physically, but in the end we made it. We also had a very good reception. Every victory is important for us, we just try to enjoy the game and give our best. Even if it’s impossible to win like yesterday, we try to learn, so I’m very happy that we won against Belgium.”
Matthijs Verhanneman, outside hitter of Belgium: “I think that we started slow, we were losing 2-0 so it was difficult, but we made a nice comeback to turn around the game. Also the fifth set we started well, and then in the end a few small mistakes and a lack of experience of play on the highest level were decisive. At the end a coin flipped and we just lost it, so it’s hard a disappointing. We need to be better in small aspects of the game, we have to improve them. We can still grow and beat some teams.”
On the same Pool, defending champions Serbia defeated Ukraine by 0-3. Ukraine had their chance to win first set, but the rivals close it with Kovacevic’s spike.
Ukraine led during most of set 2, but Serbia fought back to take 2-0, while in third set Serbia had only 5 kills and got 13 points by Ukraine’s errors! Aleksandar Atanasijevic was the top scorer among the winners with 16 points, while Oleh Plotnytskyi and Dmutro Viietskyi (UKR) made 12 for Ukraine.
Marko Podrascanin, middle blocker of Serbia: “This was a really important game for us and a big victory, especially that we finished it in three sets. It was a really tough game, especially in the first two sets, which we won with only two points of difference. Ten days ago we lost against Ukraine in their house during the friendly tournament, so before the game we knew that they are a really good team. They are improving with a few very good guys – like Plotnytskyi and Viietskyi.”
Vitaliy Shchytkov, setter of Ukraine: “A few details were missing in our game, especially in the decisive parts of the sets. The first two sets were really close and it was really details deciding. We learn from every game, we have to analyse it and go further. Every victory and every loss is an important experience for us.”
The Italy Volleyball National Team couldn’t have imagined making a better international debut with an almost totally reconstructed roster.
In their first match at the competition, they downed a modest Belarus in Pool B in Ostrava in a very convincing way: 3-0 (25:18, 25:12, 25:15). This will be an important incentive to an Italy without Zaytsev, Juantorena, Piano and Colaci for the rest of the tournament. Giulio Pinali top-scored the winners with 15 points, while Simone Giannelli set up five blocks.
Viktar Beksha, Belarusian coach: “We were able to play an even game only for the first couple of points. After that Giulio Pinali went to serve and he totally broke the psyche of our team. He served explosively and thanks to that our opponent gained a huge lead. Italians have surprised me, I did not expect them to play such a quick a great game at the beginning of the tournament. They had great blocks and defense. I firmly believe we can definitely play better and prove it in the next game.”
Ferdinando De Giorgi, Italian coach: “I am very happy with today’s performance. I think we played a good match in terms of quality. I want to praise my team for its concentration during the game especially in the third set. When you are leading 2:0 it is always difficult to calm down the players because you still must win the last set. Belarus had a nice sequence when they scored many points from service. We still played our game and made it work. We are very happy for the 3:0 victory.”
On the second match scheduled today in Pool B, Bulgaria fulfilled their role of favourite in match against Montenegro and won 3:0 (25:22, 25:17, 27:25). However, they had to fight for their win in third set, as they were facing two set points. Luckily for bulgarian fans, outside hitter Todor Skrimov ended the match with a spike.
Veljko Basic, Montenegrin coach: “I think the biggest difference between us and our opponent is that they did not do as many unforced errors as we did. I firmly believe we should have won the last set but unfortunately once again we made a mistake and that cost us this match. In the opening set we were not able to hold a step with them. We had a problem to step back into the game. But after all I am satisfied with the team effort because we showed spirit.”
The hosts of Czech National Team made a sensation in their first match at the 2021 CEV Volleyball European Championships.
The Jiří Novák’s side showed a fantastic performance in front of the home audience in Ostrava and defeated vice-champion Slovenia 3-1 (26:24, 25:18, 14:25, 25:19), one of the co-hosts took a big step towards advancing to the Round of 16.
In third day of Pool C in Tampere, Finland, Turkey, that defeated Russia in yesterday’s match, defeated also Spain at Hakametsä Arena by 3-1 (25:16, 29:31, 27:25, 25:23). Turkey starts strong with 7 blocks and takes the first set. Spain fights really hard, clearing five Turkey’s set points, and finally ends the set with an ace, but they lose their five point lead and Turkey win a balanced third set. Spain fight but can’t stop Turkey’s firepower in fourth and last set. Spanish opposite Alvaro Gimeno Rubio with 22 points was the top scorer of the match, while and Adis Lagumdzija (21 points) and Mandiraci (19 points) were the best among the winners.
Mert Matic, Middle blocker of Turkey: “I think we were a bit tired, both physically and mentally, from yesterday’s match with Russia, which cost us so much energy. Two wins is obviously a great start to the competition. As for this game, after the first set, Spain raised the level of their performance and they put much pressure on us with their service, whilst our block did not work at all and we could not stop any of their attacks. We take this competition one match at a time – but our primary goal is to reach the quarterfinals.”
Despite North Macedonia‘s efforts, the Netherlands ruled the match with total 13 blocks. Ter Maat was the most prolific player with 20 points, while North-Macedonia’s top scorer was opposite Nikola Gjorgiev with 13 points.
Wouter ter Maat, Opposite hitter of the Netherlands: “Two 3-0 wins is definitely a great start for us in this tournament, especially since you can regard both Spain and North Macedonia as very dangerous opponents. I think that compared to other teams, the level of the players of our team is even, so it does not make too much of a difference who plays and who does not – we are a good team anyway. It is difficult to say how far we can get in this tournament – we have to get out of the pool and see who we would play in the next round.”
Germany set off its EuroVolley 2021 campaign successfully, beating Croatia 3-0 (25:20, 25;13, 25:19) in Pool D of Tallinn, Estonia.
After a year and a half from saying goodbye to the international career, the legendary opposite Georg Grozer put back on the national team jersey in the official match and, of course, was Andrea Giani’s main weapon, scorying 16 points. Florian Krage and Tobias Krick made four blocks each, while only Leo Andrić scored a double digit (13 points) on the losing side with 12 attacks and 1 block.
Denys Kaliberda, Germany spiker: “Today, we didn’t make many mistakes and 3-0 is a good start. I think we can be happy”
Tsimafei Zhukouski, Croatia setter and captain: “This was not our day, our game. We didn’t show anything today, we just lost 0-3, very quickly, very easy. We lacked energy in our team, because that has always been our biggest weapon. But there is no time to think about this game and we need to forget it. We have to focus on the next one”
On the same Pool also France made a good start on the tournament, by beating Slovakia in three sets – partially 25:22, 25:20, and 25:19. Thus, the olympic champions made a nice welcome gift to their new head coach, the iconic Brazilian expert Bernardo Rezende ‘Bernardinho’, for whom this was the first official match on their bench. Moreover, it was France’s first official match after winning the historic gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, just a month ago.
Jean Patry and Earvin Ngapeth scored 17 points each for the winners, while Barthélémy Chinenyeze made six blocks, and Trévor Clévenot had 80% reception (15 digs, one error, 53% excellent). Peter Michalovič was the most prolific player with 16 points for Slovakia. And, above all, 15 blocks by France to only 5 by Slovakia makes the difference!
Peter Michalovic, Opposite of Slovakia: “We were fighting, we had some good moments, but it was not enough. We were not stable and had problems with side-out in some rotations. It was the basic reason of why we couldn’t manage to finish the sets.”
Jenia Grebennikov, Libero of France: “It was a good game, it was important for us to win and to play well. We really enjoyed the game, this is how we play: we enjoy Volleyball. Even though we are Olympic winners, we still try to win the European Championship, too. But it’s difficult both mentally and physically. We have a new staff and we want to prove and push ourselves.”
| CEV EuroVolley 2021 | Day 3 | September 3, 2021
| POOL A 📍 Kraków (POL)
Belgium – Portugal 2-3 (23:25, 22:25, 25:20, 25:18, 13:15)
Ukraine – Serbia 3-0 (25:27, 24:26, 21:25)
| POOL B 📍 Ostrava (CZE)
Italy – Belarus 3-0 (25:18, 25:12, 25:15)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
Montenegro – Bulgaria 0-3 (22:25, 17:25, 25:27)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
SCORE NOT AVAIBLE
Czech Republic – Slovenia 3-1 (26:24, 25:18, 14:25, 25:19)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
SCORE NOT AVAIBLE
| POOL C 📍 Tampere (FIN)
Turkey – Spain 3-1 (25:16, 29:31, 27:25, 25:23)
The Netherlands – North Macedonia 3-0 (25:20, 25:18, 25:22)
| POOL D 📍 Tallin (EST)
Croatia – Germany 0-3 (20:25, 13:25, 19:25)
France – Slovakia 3-0 (25:22, 25:20, 25:19)
| September 2, 2021
| September 4, 2021
Source: CEV. Photos: CEV & Volleytimes (Pool B)