Final Four of 2022 CEV Golden European League started today in Croatia.
In first semifinal, Czech Republic and Ukraine delivered a real Volleyball show in which the players around head coach Jiri Novak were two sets behind, but came back in the match, claiming the next three. Partially it was 23:25, 22:25, 25:23, 25:22 and 15:10. Speaking about numbers, Ukraine were better in attack (63 to 58 winning spikes), but It was the better serving (nine to two aces) that played a very important role for the Czech Republic’s victory, as they recorded aces above all in the most important moments of the game.
22 points by top scorer, Ukraine’s Oleh Plotnytskyi weren’t enough to stop the very inspired rivals. For the winners, Patrik Indra was the most prolific player with 19 points.
Daniel Pfeffer, Libero of Czech Republic: “We are very happy because in the first two sets, it looked like that we would lose. Then, maybe the opponents got a little bit tired, and stopped with the strong serve. It was our chance. With good reception and a good side-out – that’s how we won the game!”
Oleh Plotnytskyi, outside hitter and Captain of Ukraine: “It was a good match. The Czech played really good. They fought for every ball. They won deservedly, they have to play for the Gold. It wasn’t our goal to fight for the Bronze, but we will fight and we want to leave the competition with a medal.”
Jiří Novák, Head coach of Czech Republic: “The four sets were extremely even. Subconsciously, I knew we didn’t play that badly in the opening two sets and losing in the endgame was a rookie tax for some. The guys need to get a feel for this level of play, to let go of the importance of the moment. The ends of the third and fourth sets were in our favour and we handled the tiebreaker with bravura.”
Oliver Sedláček, middle blocker of Czech Republic: “I’m very happy with the result because I finally got to play, I got a chance to prove myself and I hope I helped our team to win today. If I play in the final, which is of course still a question, I will enjoy it because there are not many games like this in my life. I’m really happy to be here and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. On our side, we took it today by fighting. The most different thing was the display on the pitch and that’s how we got into our stride and went for the win.”
Martin Licek, Czech Republic: “It was a very interesting match, in which we pulled two sets. Then we turned it around and advanced, because when you’re down 0-2 and you turn it around to 3-2, it’s even sweeter. We can’t believe it yet. Patrik Indra has helped us a lot, improving our reception and serve. We started to get better, Lubos Bartunek could combine more on the pass and thanks to that it was successful.”
Patrik Indra, Czech Republic: “We knew we could play with the Ukrainians, but it’s not easy against such good players. But in the end we turned it on and started playing. We managed a tough game, we showed that we won’t give up in any situation and we managed to turn around a difficult 0:2 scoreline. Tomorrow we will fight for the title and if we show our inner strength, it could work.”
In Final for Gold, Czech Republic will face Turkey, again at a Golden European League final, who defeat hosts of Croatia in four sets (27:25, 21:25, 25:19, 25:19)
The first set set the tone for an exciting and intense match.
Despite Türkiye started slightly better (4-2), the hosts reply, and a point-for-point battle marked the last minutes of the first set. Even though Croatia had two set points, the 2021 winners denied them, to eventually open in their favour after a great set by captain Arslan Eksi and finishing with an attack by Bedirhan Bülbül. As many as 18 winning spikes helped the Turkish team to take the set!
The players of head coach Cedric Enard were determined not to lose any more chances, and they controlled their game in the second set(10-7 and 15-12) but, even though the defending champions from Turkey tried to get closer led by 2021 MVP, Adis Lagumdzija, Kruno Nikacevic with an ace helped his team to tie the score. Three aces and three kill blocks were crucial for the hosts in this set.
Only in the first minutes the third set was balanced, and then Türkiye then escape, leaving no doubts over their domination in this set (16-10 and a clear 21-13). The reigning champions lost concentration for a moment (23-19), but it was too late, and their opponents dominated on the court in the last set too, leading with a comfortable point-difference throughout most of the time. Four kill blocks and two aces made the difference. Moreover, Türkiye showed a great concentration, making only one error in this set, to seven by Croatia!
🏐| 2022 CEV Golden European League
FINAL FOUR @ Arena City Sport Hall – Varaždin
| Semifinals – June 18, 2022
• Czech Republic – Ukraine 3-2 (23:25, 22:25, 25:23, 25:22, 15:10)
• Turkey – Croatia 3-1 (27:25, 21:25, 25:19, 25:19)