CEV Volleyball European Silver League Final Four in Budapest started today with first semifinal between Finland and North Macedonia.
Finland prevailed in four sets (25:22, 20:25, 25:18, 25:16) and with an amazing performance above all in blocking (14-7).
Runners-up of the 2021 Silver League, North Macedonia opened the match with more confidence, taking a lead 8-5 and improving it to 13-9.
However, once they thought that the situation is under control, Finland reacted, already with 5 winning blocks in this part of the game. As a result, the team coached by Joel Banks not only level the score (14-14), but also take the lead, led by Jiri Hanninen (8 points) and Joonas Jokala (7 points) who closed the set.
North Macedonia learnt their lesson from the first set, and they managed to react. Although they struggled in reception, ending the partial with only 24%, Captain Nikola Gjorgiev and Luka Kostikj helped their team to level the score in sets, and they were the most prolific players, with 6 and 5 points, respectively.
After a very balanced start, in third set Finland jumped to a 16-10 lead. Even if Gjorgiev scored as many as nine points, his teammates were not able to follow him. Aaro Nikula, who came as a substitute in the previous set, in the 3rd part, became the best scorer of Finland (8 points), recording 100% of success in attack – 6 out of 6 – with also a winning block and one ace. Joel Banks’ side didn’t look back and took a 2-1 lead in the game.
Being only a step from their ticket for Grand Finale, Finland was motivated to complete their mission in the fourth set. They reached the a lead of seven points at 15-8 and although North Macedonia tried to shorten the distance, they take the victory 25-16 after Nikula’s spike, who was the best scorer of Finland with 17 points and 94% success in attack (15 kills). However, the top scorer of the match was Nikola Gjorgiev, who ended the game with 23 points.
Finland will face Romania in Grand Finale scheduled tomorrow.
The second semifinal was no less exciting than a previous one, as the favorite Romania literally destroyed their rivals with a clear 3-0 (25:20, 25:19, 25:20).
The match itself had a very competitive start, but then the visiting team, who was better in attacks (56% to 45%), jumped to a three-point lead and kept the distance safe. Mircea Peta was the best with 5 points, while the same number of points were tallied by Hungary’s Krisztian Padar.
In front of the home crowd, Hungary tried to escape to 12-10, but they didn’t manage to keep it for long, as Romania made up the difference and imposed their own rhythm. With a solid reception (53%), they improved their advantage and closed the set in their favour.
Romania kept the lead, starting the third set with 4-0 lead and improving it further to 15-8. But the result on the scoreboard didn’t discourage Hungary, who tried to react. The players around Robert Koch tried, but they couldn’t get closer than two points (18-20), once Romania used their first match point, claiming their ticket to the gold medal match with an ace from captain Cristian Bartha.
Mircea Peta was the top scorer with 14 points, including 10 attacks, 3 aces and 1 block, while Peter Blazsovics was a top scorer of Hungary with 12 points.
🏐| 2022 CEV Silver European League
FINAL FOUR @ Tüskecsarnok Sporthall – Budapest
| Semifinals – June 18, 2022
• Finland – North Macedonia 3-1 (25:22, 20:25, 25:18, 25:16)
• Romania – Hungary 3-0 (25:20, 25:19, 25:20)
| Finals – June 19, 2022
• 16.00 Bronze Medal Match: North Macedonia – Hungary 3-2 (25:22, 18:25, 25:15, 19:25, 15:7)
• 19.00 Gold Medal Match: Finland – Romania 2-3 (25:17, 21:25, 25:20, 23:25, 13:15)