In opening Day 3 in Pool A in Kraków, Poland, Belgium earned their first win by beating in straight sets a still winless Greece, partially 25:16, 25:22, and 25:22. These three points came as a balm to the wounds of Belgium, who lost both matches at the start, one of which was to the underdog Portugal.
Sam Deroo, unstoppable in first set with 8 points and 86% in attack, was the top scorer of the match 21 points, while Nikos Zoupani made 19 on the other side of the net (70% attack, 19/27, one error, blocked three times).
Wout D’Heer, middle blocker of Belgium: “We made a better start than during the two previous days, we immediately put a lot of pressure with our serve and we had a good reception and then our setter could play everything. There was a lot of pressure, we knew that this was our last chance, because losing this game would mean being out of the tournament.”
Georgios Petreas, captain of Greece: “All the teams here fight to qualify for the next round, we knew that we had to play !00% to win this game, but Belgium played really good today. We had an opportunity to take one set, but they started again to play much better. We missed our power. Tomorrow is another difficult game but we will continue fighting.”
In a duel of the two world giants of European volleyball, Poland prevailed over Serbia in a tie-break.
Polish players showed their character in a very difficult game of Pool A, a duel of the reigning world and Europan champion in which the former got an energetic boost from the stands of nearly packed Tauron Arena (more than 12,000 spectators!) to take down the rival in a high level match: 3-2 (25:21, 23:25, 20:25, 25:20, 16:14).
Bartosz Kurek was the best on the winning side with 22 points, while Wilfredo León also contributed with five aces, and Jakub Kochanowski made four blocks. Uroš Kovačević tallied 22 points for Serbia, while Marko Ivović served four aces.
Slovenia destroyed Montenegro 3-0 (25:17, 25:16, 25:16) in Pool B in Ostrava and registered its first victory, redeeming for yesterday’s defeat against the pool hosts. Tonček Štern scored 16 points (85% attack, 11/13, blocked once) for the vice-champion, while Vojin Ćaćić scored 13 for Montenegro.
On the same Pool, after an amazing start with a victory in four sets vs. Slovenia a day ago, the Pool hosts Czech Republic suffered a bad defeat against Belarus. Uadzislau Davyskiva was the man of the match with 20 points on the winning side, including 3 aces and 3 winning blocks.
In Pool C in Tampere, Finland, Spain still hunts for first win, but they succumbed in straight sets against Pool hosts (19:25, 20:25, 18:25).
Before the match, Mikko Esko was awarded for his impressive career with 300 national team matches. Finnish legendary setter, 43 years old, started his national team career already in 2000!
Four Finnish players scored over 11 points: Sivula, Ronkainen, Mäkinen and Siirilä (8 only in first set!), while Villena was the only player for Spain that reached a double digit (14 points).
Tommi Siirilä, middle blocker of Finland: “This is a fabulous start to the tournament for us with two wins from two matches. These are two big wins – and now the pressure on us has somehow dropped. I think today’s performance was even better than in our previous game with North Macedonia earlier this week. Therefore, the perspectives for us look good now in this pool. It really feels amazing to be playing in front of such a crowd – especially because it has been so long since the last time we could enjoy the support of our fans.”
On the same Pool, Russia, who came to the CEV Men’s EuroVolley 2021 without several big names, narrowly avoided the second defeat in as many matches, and take the first win by beating The Netherlands at tie break.
Due the outstanding Nimir Abdel-Aziz, who tallied 32 points in total, the Netherlands managed to tie the score in sets twice, forcing the rivals to convert only its third match ball in the tie-break.
Kliuka with 20 points (8 only in first set, and four aces), and Volkov, 21 points, were Russia’s most prolific players, while Ivan Iakovlev was superb in blocking (seven blocks).
Dmitrii Volkov, Outside hitter of Russia: “This is a very important victory for us, even though this was again far from an ideal performance. At least, we can say that we could rise to the occasion – and when it did matter the most, we did eventually deliver! Our loss to Turkey was more due a psychological problem on our side, since we know we have not come here with our best roster. However, we analysed that game and changed tactics – but there is definitely still plenty of room for improvement.”
In Pool D in Tallin, Estonia, both Slovakia and the hosts having faced defeats in their opening matches of the competition, and both sides faced today in front of a nearly full house in Saku Suurhall.
And it was an unusual decision of coach Énard to help Estonia.
After being down at 0-2, they managed to make an amazing comeback and, after a five-set rollercoaster, took a 3-2 victory, partially 25:27, 22:25, 25:18, 25:14, and 15:13. Thus, the Estonians save their chances of proceeding ahead to the next stage of the EuroVolley. At 0-2, Estonia started the third set with a changed rotation, with opposite Oliver Venno who was moved to the position of an outside hitter, while Renee Teppan joined the team as an opposite, and scored eight points only in this set!
Matej Patak and Peter Michalovic top-scored for Slovakia with 17 and 16 points, while Estonia’s duo Oliver Venno (including 6 of his team’s aces) and Renee Teppan made 22 and 17 points respectively. Ardo Kreek also contributed with 6 winning blocks.
Robert Viiber, Setter of Estonia: “Our backs were against the wall and that actually took some pressure off. In the fourth, set we went out to enjoy the game and succeeded.”
Marek Kardos, Coach of Slovakia: “We were not smart today, that’s the reason why we lost. They had two good guys on the serve, and we had to be smarter on the side-out. Venno is always good but I was also very surprised with Teppan today. He brought a lot of good energy to the team.”
On the same Pool, Croatia took two extremely important points in a match with a direct opponent for the ticket to the playoffs. Even though it controlled the opening set ultil 18:12, Croatia lost it. The team commanded by Emanuele Zanini trailed 1-2 in sets and managed to save two match balls of the rival in the fourth set before prevailing in the tie-break: 3-2 (28:30, 25:20, 23:25, 31:29, 15:11). Leo Andrić played an amazing game scoring 32 points for Croatia, six of which were aces, while Kruno Nikačević made five blocks. Hermans Egleskalns put down 21 points for Latvia.
| CEV EuroVolley 2021 | Day 4 | September 4, 2021
| POOL A 📍 Kraków (POL)
Belgium – Greece 3-0 (25:16, 25:22, 25:22)
Serbia – Poland 2-3 (21:25, 25:23, 25:20, 20:25, 14:16)
| POOL B 📍 Ostrava (CZE)
Montenegro – Slovenia 0-3 (17:25, 16:25, 16:25)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
Belarus – Czech Republic 3-1 (25:20, 19:25, 25:21, 25:19)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
| POOL C 📍 Tampere (FIN)
Spain – Finland 0-3 (19:25, 20:25, 18:25)
The Netherlands – Russia 2-3 (13:25, 25:19, 21:25, 25:21, 13:15)
| POOL D 📍 Tallin (EST)
Slovakia – Estonia 2-3 (27:25, 25:22, 18:25, 14:25, 13:15)
Croatia – Latvia 3-2 (28:30, 25:20, 23:25, 31:29, 15:11)
| September 3, 2021
| September 5, 2021
| POOL B 📍 Ostrava (CZE)
Source: CEV – Photos: CEV and Volleytimes (Pool B)