In their last match of the Pool phase, co-hosts Poland, the only unbeaten team in the group, fought against Ukraine who were already confirmed as finishing 3rd.
Poland finished the Pool A undefeated with a 5-0 score.
The world champion confidently defeated the rivals 3-0 (25:15, 25:20, 25:21) and topped Pool A, whose matches it hosted in Kraków, squeezing out Serbia to No.2. Poland’s head coach Vital Heynen did not want jokes today, and sent all his biggest stars onto the court from the first point, except for captain Michał Kubiak. Jakub Kochanowaski stood out on the winning side with 12 points.
Jakub Kochanowski, middle blocker of Poland: “We played much better than Ukraine. It was visible that this game didn’t have any meaning for them and they were not fully focused, because they can play much better. But the result is like it is and we like it, because we came here to win this match.”
Oleh Plotnytskyi, captain of Ukraine: “It was hard to find motivation. We just gave the opportunity to play to other players. They played and they could feel the court and atmosphere here. Time on the court is always better than sitting on the bench, and I think it will help us in the playoffs.”
On the second match of this Pool, Greece had to win this game 3-0 or 3-1 to progress to the next phase, any other result would give a spot to Portugal. The match ended 1-3 in favor of Portugal, thus they progresses to 8th finals.
Top scorer of the match was Nikos Zoupani (GRE) with 23 points. Alexandre Ferreira top-scored the winning side with 18 points, including four blocks, while Miguel Tavares served four aces. Filip Cveticanin made an 85% attack (11/13, one error). André Lopes had 79% reception (14 digs, 64% excellent).
Thus, for the first time ever, Portugal secured a spot in the Round of 16 of the CEV Men’s Volleyball European Championship.
POOL A STANDINGS – updated on this day
🇵🇱| Poland 14
🇷🇸| Serbia 12
🇺🇦| Ukraine 7
🇵🇹| Portugal 6
🇧🇪| Belgium 4
🇬🇷| Greece 2
In Ostrava’s Pool B Italy completed a poker of wins beating Slovenia in straight sets in a direct duel for the top spot. Partially it was 27:25, 25:20 and 25:23.
This was the fourth victory out of four matches, and also the vice-champion succumbed to rejuvenated Italy, who will enter the elimination phase as the pool winner, avoiding the other winning teams of the pools until the semi-finals. They built their success by overcoming difficulties in the first set in which they saw themselves trailing 16-20, finding the right pace in the continuation of the match. Alessandro Micchieletto was the most prolific player with 17 points for Italy.
Simone Giannelli, Italian setter: “It was a tough game because Slovenia is one of the best teams in Europe. We knew it would be difficult but we did a great job on the court and I am very happy for this result. We don’t want to look too much ahead. It’s because we have a young team so our target is to grow together and to improve our game.”
Jan Kozamernik, Slovenian middle blocker: “Italians played great but the main problem of this match was that our performance wasn’t as good as before. We served poorly and that was the key thing. They had amazing receive and serve as well. Those were the decisive factors.”
On the same Pool, Belarus defeats Montenegro with a clear 3:0 (25:23, 25:21, 25:12).
With this win, Belarus has still a hope of getting promoted from the group.
Viktar Beksha, Belarus coach: “We were so nervous at the beginning of today’s game. We made so many unforced errors. Our opponent’s best player Cacic didn’t start but nonetheless they led thanks to great serve and our mistakes. It was so important that we handled the first set. It helped to our psyche. After that it was easier. Now we have a match ahead of us against Bulgaria and I firmly believe that for the first time in the history we will play CEV EuroVolley round of sixteen.”
Veljko Basic, Montenegro coach: “We started one more time very well but again we threw away the first set by our mistakes. This thing has limited my team during the tournament. I am so disappointed that we lost every match.”
POOL B STANDINGS – updated on this day
🇮🇹| Italy 12
🇸🇮| Slovenia 9
🇨🇿| Czech Republic 7
🇧🇾| Belarus 6
🇧🇬| Bulgaria 5
🇲🇪| Montenegro 0
On the last day of Pool C in Tampere, Finland, the underdog North-Macedonia played against volleyball giants Russia who finally seems to find their rhytm despite they are playing the competition without several big names.
The match ended in fact with a clear 3-0 25:15, 25:13, 25:18).
Russia win first sets 25:15 with 5 aces, and their strong serve continues: 15 aces at the end of the match! But not only, as the winners made also 9 blocks.
Especially middle blockers Ilia Vlasov (10 points) and Artem Volvich (12 points) were decisive in this match, while Kirill Klets was the top scorer with 15 points. Besides Nikola Gjorgiev, author of 9 points, their rivals couldn’t find their way past tall Russian block.
Yaroslav Podlesnykh, outside hitter of Russia: “I think that we have been playing better and better with each match. Unfortunately, we failed in our opening game with Turkey but after that setback, we were able to regroup and find back our rhythm. It is obviously challenging to play a European Championship shortly after the Olympics where we definitely reached our peak – however, it is an interesting experience as well to see how much we can progress even under these conditions.”
On the same Pool, both Turkey and Finland had already secured tickets to EuroVolley’s next phase, but the pool standings were still open. And Finland defeats the rival after a battle lasted five sets: 25:17, 16:25, 27:29, 25:18, 15:13.
Top scorers were Sivula with 22 points for the winners, and for Turkey Lagumdzija with 28 points. Turkey places 3rd and Finland 4th in Pool C and will face Pool A’s 1st and 2nd teams in the 1/8 finals.
Urpo Sivula, Opposite hitter of Finland: “This match and the victory were a dream way to end this section of the European Championship at home. We did not really focus on the fact that Turkey had beaten Russia earlier in the tournament; we just wanted to play our own game and I think you can agree that we have raised the level of our performance with each match. Now we go to Poland and we want to win at least one more game there!”
POOL C STANDINGS – updated on this day
🇳🇱| The Netherlands 13
🇷🇺| Russia 11
🇹🇷| Turkey 10
🇫🇮| Finland 8
🇪🇸| Spain 3
🇲🇰| North Macedonia 0
In Pool D in Tallin, Estonia, Croatia achieved a noteworthy result. In its last match, the team commanded by italian expert Emanuele Zanini beat Slovakia in a do-or-die match: 3-1 (25:27, 25:19, 25:19, 31-29). Thus, Croatia qualified for the eighth-finals for the first time in 16 years, being led to this success again by Leo Andrić, author this time of 24 points, including as many as eight aces! Kruno Nikačević set up four blocks. Croatia is currently third-placed in the pool but could drop to fourth place in case Latvia beat France, which is hardly likely.
Leo Andric, Opposite of Croatia: “We got to the European Championships and now we go one step further to the next round, so I’m extremely happy. Yesterday, I wasn’t at my top level but today I did my best and so did my teammates”
Tomas Krisko, Captain of Slovakia: “We had our chances, the start was really good, but then we struggled with reception and couldn’t set high balls. Now, we have one match left and we have to put everything we have out there”
On the same Pool, Latvia could not find a way to surprise the leaders of the Pool D, France, and recorded a clear defeat in straight sets. France are currently sitting comfortably at the top of this group, and will end the pool stage tomorrow against the hosts of the tournament Estonia.
The Olympic champions demonstrated their superiority with an outstanding 86% efficiency in attack and took a comfortable 25:18 win of the first set, 25:14 second, and 25:17 third.
Mousse Gueye, Middleblocker of France: “It is my first time in the national team and my first game at the European Championships. It was really great for me to play and see my level with these guys. I am enjoying the tournament and the good moments we have with the team.”
Avo Keel, Coach of Latvia: “The level of these teams is just very different, there is really nothing we can do.”
POOL D STANDINGS – updated on this day
🇫🇷| France 12
🇩🇪| Germany 9
🇭🇷| Croatia 8
🇱🇻| Latvia 5
🇸🇰| Slovakia 3
🇪🇪| Estonia 1
| CEV EuroVolley 2021 | Day 8 | September 8, 2021
| POOL A 📍 Kraków (POL)
Poland – Ukraine 3-0 (25:15, 25:20, 25:21)
Greece – Portugal 1-3 (22:25, 26:24, 20:25, 22:25)
| POOL B 📍 Ostrava (CZE)
Italy – Slovenia 3-0 (27:25, 25:20, 25:23)| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
Belarus – Montenegro 3-0 (25:23, 25:21, 25:12)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
| POOL C 📍 Tampere (FIN)
Russia – North Macedonia 3-0 (25:15, 25:13, 25:18)
Finland – Turkey 3-2 (25:17, 16:25, 27:29, 25:18, 15:13)
| POOL D 📍 Tallin (EST)
Slovakia – Croatia 1-3 (27:25, 19:25, 19:25, 29:31)
France – Latvia 3-0 (25:18, 25:14, 25:17)
| September 7, 2021
| September 9, 2021
Source: CEV – Photos: CEV & Volleytimes