In penultimate Eighth Final of CEV Eurovolley 2021, the silver team from the last edition confirmed the role of the favorite by beating Croatia in four sets (25:20, 25:18, 19:25, 25:12) at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Slovenia dominated first two sets, with Cebulj’s 8 points only in the opening set.
Despite an amazing display by Leo Andrić, 7 aces (five in a row) and 7 spikes in 3rd set, nothing to do for Croatia, as Slovenia regain control of the match to take fourth set with a clear 25:12, securing its quarterfinal berth against the winner between France and Czech Republic on Wednesday….and it will be Czech Republic!
Klemen Cebulj was the top scorer for the winners with 13 points, while Jan Kozamernik set up four blocks. Leo Andric was the only player on the other side of the net in double digit: 21 points, including 9 aces!
For the fourth time in a row, Slovenia secured the place in the Top 8 in the continental championship.
Alen Pajenk, middle blocker of Slovenia: “It was a tough match, we knew that Croatia would come as hard as possible. You could see this in the beginning of the game. Then we started to play better, beated their blocks and improved our defence. It the third set they had a good serve when they scored five aces in a row. Fortunately for us we came back even stronger and brought home this victory.”
Leo Andric, Croatia opposite: “Slovenia was better even though we tried our best. They came for the victory from the beginning. I managed to surprise them with my serve. I can’t really tell why it was that good, I just tried it. Unfortunately in the next set we were completely down and it wasn’t all right.”
The national team of the Czech Republic made the major sensation at the competition until this moment, and that will be talked about for a long time among volleyball fans!
They advanced to the quarter-finals, yeah, but how did it do it?
By shocking the Olympic Games winner France in front of their home supporters in Ostrava with, believe it or not, a straight-set win, partially 25:22, 25:19, and 34:32.
And, to present the success in a better light, the winners achieved only two victories in the whole tournament prior to this match.
Interestingly, the Czech Republic repeated a stunt from four years ago, as it eliminated France, at that moment the reigning European champion, in the eight-finals of the same competition (3-1).
Jan Hadrava led the winning side with 18 points today, while Lukáš Vašina made 71% attack (15/21, and one error). Jean Patry was the most prolific player for France with 20 points (57% in attack).
Jean Patry, France opposite: “Czech players played extraordinary today and were pushed by amazing fans. Today’s result is a big surprise but we are not machines. I mean we are mentally and physically tired and then it can all be complicated.”
Jiri Novak, Czech coach: “After match like this I could probably talk a lot but I will be brief today. Although we won and performed great but that’s how it ends. We all know what happened after we defeated Slovenia and this mustn’t be repeated under any circumstances. We have to prepare ourselves for the next game and fight for every ball. We will see what the result will be.”
| CEV EuroVolley 2021 | EIGHTH FINALS
• Netherlands (C1) – Portugal (A4) 3-2 (22:25, 25:22, 26:24, 20:25, 15:13)
• Serbia (A2) – Turkey (C3) 3-2 (25:18, 22:25, 22:25, 25:23, 15:12)
👉🏼 September 13, 2021
• Slovenia (B2) – Croatia (D3) 3-1 (25:20, 25:18, 19:25, 25:12)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
• France (D1) – Czech Republic (B4) 0-3 (22:25, 19:25, 32:34)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH