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Volleyball 2017 Discussion Thread

356 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

The following teams have progressed either to World Championship or Qualification Round 3


Women's Tournament





























Edited by VolleyRuller96

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Serbia simply ruthless as Olympic silver medallists book ticket to Japan



Warsaw, Poland, May 28, 2017. The silver medallists from the Rio 2016 Olympics – Serbia – are the first European team to secure a ticket to next year’s FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship in Japan. They did so by completing a clean sweep of their matches in Pool B where they did not drop a set in five games, finally routing also hosts Poland on Sunday. The Czech Republic settled for second place, thus keeping alive their chances of boarding a plane to Japan next year – and the Czechs will be trying to achieve this goal when contesting the third and final stage of European qualifications in mid-August. 

Iceland vs. Slovakia 

The match between Iceland and Slovakia brought no surprises. Marek Rojko’s team shined with a 63% spiking efficiency against their opponents, who managed to attack successfully only once every three attempts. The Icelandic team can be commended for their better performance at blocking, compared to Saturday’s match with Cyprus. This, however, could not have any major impact on the final result, especially when Slovakia kept bombarding their opponents from the service line (15 aces), saying good-bye to Warsaw with a comprehensive 3-0 victory (25-11, 25-21, 25-11).
“For us it was an important tournament to practice as a team and gain more experience in the game. Facing a stronger rival is always a great opportunity to improve your skills and be better prepared for the next competition,” said Iceland Frida Sigurdardottir.


Czech Republic vs. Cyprus 

The Czech Republic’s 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-15) win against Cyprus cemented their second place in the tournament, with a chance for a World Championship berth in the last qualification round. Fuelled by this kind of motivation, the Czech players were dominant in the scorecards on spiking, while Cyprus gave away too many points (10 in the second set) to be able to pose a threat to their opponent. The third and last set only confirmed the Czech Republic’s dominance on the court, with a great performance and the final point scored by Katerina Kohoutova.
“This was a good tournament for our team. Our goal for Warsaw was to take up the second place. Winning over Poland was the biggest milestone and we did it! I am happy and excited to wait for the outcome of the last match between Poland and Serbia,” said Veronika Dostalova, libero of the Czech Republic.

Serbia vs. Poland 
The first set of Poland vs. Serbia showed the difference in quality between these two teams. The Olympic vice-champions were aware of their own strength and capabilities, while the hosts seemed to still have the painful loss against the Czech Republic in their heads. Zoran Terzic’s players dominated on court from the very beginning (8-2) and their superb reception allowed them to lead the game as they pleased. Two sets (25-15, 25-16) were enough to confirm Serbia’s first place in the tournament, the third one (25-15) was a formality, giving the team a flawless 3-0 record in all of their Warsaw matches.
The organisers of the tournament awarded the best players / Dream Team of the competition as follows:
Outside hitter: Brankica MIHAJLOVIC (SRB)
Outside hitter: Michaela MLEJNKOVA (CZE)
Middle blocker: Stefana VELJKOVIĆ (SRB)
Middle blocker: Agnieszka KĄKOLEWSKA (POL)
Libero: Silvija POPOVIĆ (SRB)
Setter: Bojana ZIVKOVIĆ (SRB)
Opposite hitter: Tijana BOŠKOVIĆ (SRB)


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Six elite teams through to 2018 Worlds, Slovenia celebrate historic first ever appearance



Luxembourg, May 28, 2017. Sunday was some kind of ‘D-Day’ for Europe’s Volleyball family with a number of highly anticipated matches going to decide which teams would book their ticket to the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship to be co-hosted by Italy and Bulgaria next year. With Serbia having secured their spot on Saturday already, another five teams had a good reason to celebrate on Sunday – and something truly historic happened in Ljubljana where hosts Slovenia secured their first ever World Championship appearance after edging Belgium 3-1. France, The Netherlands, Russia and Finland completed a clean sweep of the matches they contested in their respective pools to qualify to the Worlds as well. The six runners-up – Germany, Slovakia, Belgium, Estonia, Belarus and Spain – will contest a single round robin in mid-July to determine the last European team making it to next year’s World Championship. 

Pool A in Lyon (FRA) 

Azerbaijan vs. Iceland 

Azerbaijan finally claimed a victory in Lyon as they beat Iceland 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-20). Iceland had high expectations for their last game in the qualification tournament but Rogerio Ponticelli’s men suffered another 0-3 loss, this time at the hands of Azerbaijan. The first and second sets followed the same pattern, with the score remaining close in the early stages before Azerbaijan broke away as Iceland’s reception collapsed and the outsiders also made quite some unforced errors. Iceland’s hopes to win at least one set were alive again in the third one where they kept the score tight up to 14-all, but Azerbaijan’s Dmitriy Obodnikov made the difference with nine points out of nine attempts in attack, plus one ace and two blocks. Outside hitter Agil Agazade scored six points in the last set, thus enormously contributing to the final 25-20 score. Iceland outside hitter Theodor Oskar Thorvaldsson top scored in the match with 13 points, including two aces and two blocks. 

Dmitriy Obodnikov, middle blocker of Azerbaijan: “Even though we did not qualify for the next round, this tournament was a perfect way to prepare for the European League starting in two weeks and this match was a perfect opportunity to use the entire team.”

Rogerio Ponticelli, head coach of Iceland: “In their minds my players thought we were able to win this match but we faced difficulties from the beginning and made numerous unforced errors. The opponents had a good service. I have mixed feelings because we are happy to be here but sad because we did not win any set. It is tough for us, as we have to recognise that our situation in Iceland is totally different from the other nations competing here. We need to learn to make it to the next level.” 

Felix Thor Gislason, outside hitter of Iceland: “We need to gain more experience to be competitive in such kind of competition. Now we will fly to San Marino for the Games of the Small States of Europe where we have good chances because we won silver two years ago. The gold medal is our clear goal this time.” 

Ukraine vs. Turkey 

Turkey ended their campaign in Lyon on a high note with a compelling 3-0 victory over Ukraine (25-16, 25-19, 25-20) to settle for third place in the pool. This match was supposed to be a rather close affair but finally Turkey cruised to a 3-0 victory. Even though the first set was dominated by the Turks (25-16), the second one followed a totally different plot with Ukraine leading the way until Turkey levelled the score at 15-all. After that, Turkey put a lot of pressure on the Ukrainian receivers with their service and by scoring two aces paved their way towards a 25-19 win. It was too hard to come back for the Ukraine after such a setback, they lost focus and trailed from early on in the third set – and not being able to make up for their early deficit, Ukraine surrendered at 20-25. 

Ugis Krastins, head coach of Ukraine: “We are not satisfied with the result. We had big problems in reception and we gave the chance to the opponent to come back into the game. This moment was decisive, because after that we lost confidence. However, before this kind of blackout, we were doing a good job. Now we will go home and prepare for the European League. It’s the first time in history that Ukraine will participate in this competition, so it is going to be exciting.” 

Yigit Gülmezoglu, opposite of Turkey: “We completed a good comeback in the second set. We did some good services in a row. After this, they had lot of pressure on them while we were getting confidence. After this competition we can see that we are not completely ready for the European Championship, which is our main goal this season.” 

Josko Milenkoski, head coach of Turkey: “Today we finally played an easy match. But there was not much at stake because the two teams were not qualified in any case, that’s why both sides played a little bit too relaxed. We had great tactical services and were efficient in attack. We are looking forward to starting the World League in Ankara and I hope that the team will be complete.” 

Pool B in Apeldoorn (NED) 

Republic of Moldova vs. Austria

On the last competition day in The Netherlands, the Republic of Moldova won their second match in this qualification tournament. After beating Luxembourg on Saturday, the team of head coach Artur Romascan was too strong for Austria on Sunday (3-1; 22-25, 31-29, 25-22, 26-24). Both Luxembourg and Austria are higher ranked in Europe, so it’s fair to say that Moldova played a very successful tournament in Koog aan de Zaan and especially in Apeldoorn.  

The Netherlands vs. Slovakia

In the direct battle for first place in Pool B between The Netherlands and Slovakia, the Dutch hosts claimed the much-desired ticket to the 2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship. Slovakia will get another chance to achieve this goal at the third and last qualification round scheduled for mid-July. The Netherlands needed two sets to secure the first place in the pool, and they fulfilled this task when they made it 2-2 before the ‘Lange Mannen’ kept their unbeaten status when they won the match 3-2 (25-27, 26-24, 22-25, 25-16, 15-9). “It is so important for us that we are going to the World Championship for the first time since 2002,” said Dutch head coach Gido Vermeulen. “Our programme for the next two years is perfect, now we are qualified for the European and the World Championship as well.” 

Greece vs. Luxembourg

In the last match in the beautiful Omnisport in Apeldoorn, Greece proved to be too strong for Luxembourg (3-0; 25-19, 25-23, 25-21). Only in the second set the Red Lions from Luxembourg were able to pose a threat until the end of the set: 25-23. Greece, considered one of the favourites for this tournament, ended the week with three victories and two losses. Unfortunately for the team of head coach Konstantinos Arseniadis, this was not enough to qualify for the third round of qualifications. Since Slovakia has a better set ratio, Greece has to be content with third place in Pool B.  

Pool C in Ljubljana (SLO) 

Slovenia vs. Belgium 

On the last day of the World Championship qualifier in Ljubljana, all eyes were set on the clash between Slovenia and Belgium, who were fighting for a spot in the Finals taking place next year in Italy and Bulgaria. The home side was keen to secure their first ever World Championship appearance, while Belgium already competed at the last edition of that same competition held in 2014 in Poland. Slovenia had a 5-3 win-loss record from previous matchups with the Red Dragons, but Belgium had beaten Slovenia the last time they faced each other at the 2015 European Championship, where Slovenia later on claimed a historic silver medal. After a dramatic match and three exciting sets, Slovenia took total control in the fourth one and celebrated a memorable 3-1 win (28-30, 26-24, 27-25, 25-20) in front of 2,000 people in Arena Stožice. 

“I told my players that they had to play this match with their hearts and head but at the beginning they played only with their hearts. Consequentially, we made too many mistakes, especially with our serve. Fortunately, my players changed the rhythm of their game and got this win. The feeling is fantastic,” Slovenia head coach Slobodan Kovač commented.

Georgia vs. Israel 

In the first match of Day 5 in Pool C, Georgia fought hard again, but Israel’s players showed their good shape and won the game in a little more than an hour (3-0; 25-13, 25-22, 25-19). “We have an extremely young team and the experience from this tournament is really beneficial for us. We came here to do everything we can, we fought hard and this is what is the most important,” top scorer Dmitri Zemlianukhin said after Israel’s last match in Ljubljana. 

Latvia vs. Portugal 

In another exciting game, the last one on schedule, Portugal claimed their third victory and finished the competition in third place after stamping a 3-1 win (26-24, 23-25, 26-24, 25-17) in their matchup with Latvia. “The tournament was organised in a great way, congratulations to the Volleyball Federation of Slovenia. And of course, congratulations to Slovenia for their win and for their first FIVB World Championship appearance! We started the tournament by playing really bad, but now I am satisfied with the way we finished our duties here,” Portugal head coach Hugo Silva said. 

Pool D in Tallinn (EST) 

Romania vs. Hungary

The last competition day in Estonia’s capital brought three duels featuring neighbouring nations. The first one was between Romania and Hungary, with Romania rallying to a 3-0 victory (25-19, 26-24, 27-25). “We served better and our attitude was also superior. We were in a better mood, so to speak. However, if we look ahead, Hungary has three, four very promising young players,” said Romania’s team captain Laurentiu Lica.
Hungary coach Juan Manuel Barrial agreed that the opponents had more energy than his own players. “We were not at the same level in terms of aggressiveness than in the previous matches. We tried to fight with them, especially in the second and third sets but they closed the sets better,” he said.
Romania had started the tournament with straight losses to Estonia and Russia before netting three consecutive victories to finish the competition in third place. “We got better with each game, against Estonia and Russia we could not do much but after that we raised the level of our performance. Still, one thing we really have to learn is to be careful and to respect our opponent. Losing one set to Kosovo was really bad. It is a lesson for the future and especially for our younger players who have joined the national team quite recently,” Lica added. 

Kosovo vs. Montenegro

Montenegro rallied to a 3-0 victory (25-15, 25-9, 25-15) in this duel featuring two Balkan countries. It was the second victory for Montenegro in the competition, enough to finish the tournament in fourth place. “We started our preparations a bit late, some our players came back from injuries and some ended their club season as early as in February. We had a very good game against Russia and the match with Estonia was also very, very close but in the last two games we were very tired,” said Montenegro head coach Veljko Basić. As soon as on Friday, the team will start this year’s FIVB World League campaign. 
Kosovo men’s national team, which is taking their first steps on the international stage, ended the tournament with five losses but won their first ever set on the third day of the tournament when they faced Romania. “This tournament was a very good experience for us. Physically we were not very good because our preparation lasted only ten days and as a result, our game swayed a lot. Sometimes we played really well, sometimes really bad,” team captain Valon Nikqi commented.

Pool E in Zagreb (CRO) 

Norway vs. Switzerland 

Switzerland completed their spectacular campaign in Zagreb with a third victory in five matches, this time edging Norway 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 15-10). The Swiss players were probably still tired and fatigued following their five-set match with Belarus and Norway caught the better start, taking the first set 26-24. Although they still looked physically exhausted, the Swiss fought back in the second set, reducing the number of mistakes – Jovan Djokic and especially Sébastien Steigmeier made the difference as the latter served for four times in a row in the late stages of the second set, thus securing a 25-21 win. The still winless Norwegians were hoping to finish the tournament on a high note and delivered a very solid performance in set three, thus taking it 25-20. Switzerland, however, did not tremble and the starting six paid back the trust shown by the coaching staff with a 25-23 win. The tiebreak was a close race up to 7-all but after the side switch Switzerland broke away to celebrate their third victory of the week (15-10). 

Scott Olsen, head coach of Norway: “As we prepared for this tournament, we had to raise the level of our game to a much higher level than what we are used to in our national league. We had to adapt to a strong service, opponents being a lot taller and to a faster game as well. We made some progress, but I am not happy with the results we achieved. We need to continue building our team, and next year hopefully we will achieve some good results in the qualifications for the 2019 edition of the European Championship.” 

Mario Motta, head coach of Switzerland: “We have done something really big at this tournament. I have to thank all players for believing in this team and the staff. The players remained focussed on every match. I think that none before coming to this tournament thought we could play for second place in the pool. I am really happy for my players and for the staff as well.” 

Croatia vs. Serbia 

There was not much at stake in the ‘derby’ between Serbia and Croatia, with Serbia having already secured their participation in the 2018 FIVB World Championship the night before and Croatia being out of contention for a spot in the next round of qualifications. Croatia, however, had nothing to lose and started very relaxed, thus leading 10-6 before Serbia stormed back to make it 16-14 in their favour at the second technical time-out. It was a very close race until the end with the two teams exchanging the lead back and forth until Serbia prevailed at 25-23. Serbia looked more composed and determined in the second set, leading the way from start to end (25-16). The third set was kind of the same with Serbia claiming an early lead to capitalise on and finish the tournament unbeaten – without dropping a single set in five matches (25-21). Marko Sedlaček and Aleksandar Atanasijević top scored for Croatia and Serbia with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Marko Ivović also scored 11 times for the winners. 
Ivan Rančić, head coach of Croatia: “It is a pity that we started to play well in the last game of the tournament. This game showed that we have great potential. We are going to get screwed in with this young team, as their talent gives us the hope to do even better. We will gather again in June to lay the foundations for what is expected in the near future.” 
Dragan Stanković, captain of Serbia: “We were confident we would go straight to the World Championship from here but we took this tournament and every match very seriously. We were the favourites on paper, but we had to prove it on the court. Our team has participated in all major Volleyball competitions for many years and this has been achieved through hard work and the good cooperation developed among all those involved.” 

Belarus vs. Denmark  

Belarus had to claim their matchup with Denmark if they wanted to finish second in the pool – and so they did (3-1; 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 25-23). They started the match in the best way, leading 8-4 and by keeping the number of mistakes down to a minimum and with the help of their star player Pavel Kuklinski, Belarus claimed the first set 25-23. Denmark set the tempo for most of the second set up to 23-21; at this stage, Andrei Pratasenia went to serve for Belarus and his side scored four times in a row to double their lead in the match. Denmark stormed back by taking the third set but Belarus were not going to let it go – the match was too important and by stepping up in the fourth set, they sealed a 3-1 victory to make sure they progress to the third round of qualifications. Rasmus Breuning Nielsen and Kuklinski top scored for Denmark and Belarus with 17 and 16 points, respectively. 

Siarhei Busel, team captain of Belarus: “This was a very difficult tournament with five games in a row. The whole team is tired and it was difficult to play this last game. We are happy because we are going to the third round of qualifications.” 

Axel Jacobsen, team captain of Denmark: “There was tiredness from yesterday’s game. We played with six, seven players in this tournament, and Belarus had a longer bench with good substitutes, so they were cooler than us. If we had not felt such tiredness, we would certainly have played better. For us this was a good tournament, we started not so well, but we got better with each match. Now we have the European League in front of us and there is no time to rest.” 

Pool F in Karlovy Vary (CZE) 

Sweden vs. Cyprus 

The final day of Pool F in Karlovy Vary started with a victory for Sweden over Cyprus. However, it was not easy for the heavy pre-favourites of this match, Sweden. After two sets, it was Cyprus, who was leading 2-0. However, Sweden swept the following three sets and after a celebrating a 3-2 victory (19-25, 25-27, 27-25, 25-21, 15-13) they leave the tournament on Czech soil with two wins from Northern Ireland and Cyprus. The Cyprus side beat only Northern Ireland but they deserve thumbs up for the big fight they put up against Sweden. Their head coach Evangelos Koutouleas was quite positive about this tournament: “The end of the match is a little bit bitter for us because if you check the points scored, we have the very same number of points. But that’s Volleyball, it’s a great sport. We had a chance to win 3-0, but we didn’t close the third set and that’s it. We have many positives to take from this tournament. There was always a great atmosphere and it was very supportive. We did not play that many games before the tournament so for us it was a big and good preparation for the Games of the Small States of Europe, which we will contest from tomorrow.” 

Spain vs. Northern Ireland 

In the second game of the day, Spain comfortably beat Northern Ireland 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-12). However, it was not the best performance by the Spaniards. The second set was close and there Northern Ireland were close to causing a real sensation. “I think we played a good tournament. We lost only one game. Now we have to wait for the other match. I hope Finland will win. I think that we controlled the game from the beginning to the end. We played the way we wanted, so I’m happy with the result,” Spanish team captain Jorge Fernandez Valcarcel said.

Czech Republic vs. Finland 

The last match of the tournament was the most important one for both sides. The Finnish team needed to win just two sets to make sure they would finish first in the pool. And that was obviously their primary goal: “The game went exactly the way we planned – to take two sets and be sure that we will go to the World Championship. The home team was really great, and they have something I have never seen before,” Finnish captain Eemi Tervaportti said. After taking the second set, the team of Finland started to celebrate as they knew that they had qualified to the World Championship taking place next year in Italy and Bulgaria. For the Czechs, there was still a chance – by winning three sets in a row, they could have finished second in the pool. They knew that the Finnish squad could play relaxed and just enjoy the match and could even lose it. In the third set, the Czechs left everything on the court and they won it (25-23). The sports hall almost blew up and everybody was convinced that the boys could make it. Unfortunately, the Finnish team did not want to leave any doubts about their supremacy in the group, and by winning the match 3-1, they made sure Spain would take second place in the pool and progress to the next round of qualifications.  
Finland head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo could not find the right words after this superb tournament: “Well, we played an amazing tournament. The idea was to grow with each match, moment by moment and today we needed to leave everything we had on the court. We have really amazing players and they really enjoyed playing together. I think that it’s amazing to see how they played. Also, I have to thank the fans, they were really great. I’m very happy for them! We played a solid tournament… I can’t find any more words now.”


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which team is the favorite for the world league?


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1 hour ago, George_D said:

which team is the favorite for the world league?

I would say France as they managed to avoid drastic changes in their team (unlike Poland or Brazil) and they already showed their strength against Germany yesterday.


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Posted (edited)






:ARG ARGENTINA  http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/arg argentina/team_roster

:BEL BELGIUM http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/bel belgium/team_roster

:BRA BRAZIL http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/bra brazil/team_roster

:BUL BULGARIA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/bul bulgaria/team_roster

:CAN CANADA  http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/can canada/team_roster

:FRA FRANCE http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/fra france/team_roster

:IRI IRAN http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/iri iran/team_roster

:ITA ITALY http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/ita italy/team_roster

:POL POLAND http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/pol poland/team_roster

:RUS RUSSIA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/rus russia/team_roster

:SRB SERBIA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/srb serbia/team_roster

:USA UNITED STATES http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/teams/usa usa/team_roster




:AUS AUSTRALIA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/aus australia/team_roster

:CHN CHINA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/chn china/team_roster

:CZE CZECHIA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/cze czech republic/team_roster

:EGY EGYPT http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/egy-egypt/team_roster

:FIN FINLAND http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/fin finland/team_roster

:JPN JAPAN http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/jpn japan/team_roster

:KOR SOUTH KOREA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/kor korea/team_roster

:NED NETHERLANDS http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/ned netherlands/team_roster

:POR PORTUGAL http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/por portugal/team_roster

:SVK SLOVAKIA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/svk slovakia/team_roster

:SLO SLOVENIA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/slo slovenia/team_roster

:TUR TURKEY http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group2/teams/tur turkey/team_roster



:AUT AUSTRIA  http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/aut austria/team_roster

:TPE CHINESE TAIPEI http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/tpe-chinese taipei/team_roster

:EST ESTONIA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/est estonia/team_roster

:GER GERMANY http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/ger germany/team_roster
:GRE GREECE http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/gre greece/team_roster

:KAZ KAZAKHSTAN  http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/kaz kazakhstan/team_roster

:MEX MEXICO http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/mex mexico/team_roster

:MNE MONTENEGRO http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/mne montenegro/team_roster

:QAT QATAR http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/qat qatar/team_roster

:ESP SPAIN http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/esp spain/team_roster

:TUN TUNISIA  http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/tun tunisia/team_roster

:VEN VENEZUELA http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group3/teams/ven venezuela/team_roster

Edited by VolleyRuller96

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Posted (edited)

I will attend all 3 WL games of our team this weekend :)

Edited by DaniSRB

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2 hours ago, DaniSRB said:

I will attend all 3 WL games of our team this weekend :)

Nice :) sadly I won't be able to watch any match of Polish NT this year


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Poor Georgia girls.. they were just this close to winning first set against Croatia :(


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Portugal:France 3:2. How? :yikes:


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Top teams off to flying start in women’s World Champs qualifiers 



Luxembourg, May 31, 2017. The top favourite teams – i.e. Russia, Croatia, Belgium, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey and Germany – caught a promising start to their campaign in the second round of European qualifiers to the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Japan 2018. They all claimed their respective opening matches in three sets to cement their status as ‘hottest’ candidates to book a ticket to Japan. Azerbaijan and The Netherlands achieved the same feat in Pool E – and actually they repeated it for the second day running, since they started their campaign on Tuesday already and they have not dropped a single set this far at the tournament being held in Azerbaijan’s capital. 

Pool A in Osijek (CRO) 

Russia vs. Austria 

Russia are certainly the clear-cut favourites to claim a ticket to next year’s World Championship from Pool A and they cemented this role from the very first match they contested in Osijek, routing Austria in three sets (25-14, 25-13, 25-15). Russia coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin could use almost all of the players on the roster and was visibly satisfied with the result. Kseniia Parubets (Ilchenko) top scored for Russia as Srna Markovic paced Austria in their losing effort. Austria head coach Svetlana Ilic commented: “I am pleased with the performance of my players. We are playing in a very difficult and challenging pool, but my players are happy that they can measure themselves up against such world-class opponents.”


Greece vs. Hungary 

The second match of the day was much closer and a lot more dramatic, with Greece eventually edging Hungary at the tiebreak (25-18, 20-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-13). It was difficult to predict the outcome of the match, especially in the fourth set where Hungary enjoyed a small advantage and eventually called for the tiebreak. Greta Szakmary and Bernadett Dekany top scored for Hungary as Anthi Vasilantonaki and libero Areta Konomi were the key players in Greece’s eventual victory. Hungary coach Alberto Salamoni commented: “We are disappointed, especially since we were that close to winning the match. We played well and we hope for a positive result in tomorrow’s game with Austria.” 

Georgia vs. Croatia 

Hosts Croatia easily beat Georgia 3-0 (28-26, 25-11, 25-18) even though the first set was kind of shocking for the home fans as the Croatian team had to work hard and fight until the end before emerging victorious. The following two sets were a lot easier and Croatia eventually celebrated a 3-0 victory to start their home campaign in Osijek and quest for a spot to compete at next year’s World Championship in Japan. 

Pool C in Sofia (BUL) 

Turkey vs. Kosovo 

Turkey comfortably claimed the first set of their matchup with Kosovo and after that their Italian-born coach Giovanni Guidetti made some substitutions without affecting the final result (3-0; 25-5, 25-13, 25-10) in any way. Meryem Boz top scored for Turkey with nine points as Fjolla Shabani scored four times for Kosovo in their first ever international match. 

Nazmie Ibrahimi, player of Kosovo: “This match was really special for me and my team, because for the first time in history we represent our country in such a big tournament. As you know we are the youngest country in Europe and it is great pleasure to be here. Turkey is a great team, we knew that and we tried to do our best. However, for us it is important to continue to work even harder and hopefully one day we will be able to put up a fight and be successful even when playing strong opponents such as Turkey.”   

Lorik Ilazi, coach of Kosovo: “This is the first international competition for our women’s national team. The level here is really high. For our team this tournament is really important because we will have the opportunity to learn and gain some valuable experience. This is our main goal here, not the results. Turkey is just too strong for us. We have a programme for the next years to develop our young players and to build a strong team.”  

Güldeniz Önal, player of Turkey: “We tried to play with a lot of discipline in all aspects of the game. If our block did not work so well, they ended up scoring, so this means that we have to improve on this element for the next matches. However, I am confident that the level of our performance will improve in time for the big match with Bulgaria. Step by step, match after match we will play better and better.” 

Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of Turkey: “Of course, it was not a difficult match and I’m happy because all of my players had the opportunity to take to the court. This is only the first day of the tournament and it’s really important that all players join the competition and feel the atmosphere of it. I am very happy with this. Kosovo tried their best and I want to congratulate them because they never gave up. They fought for every ball even when the situation was difficult. Respect for Kosovo!”


Bulgaria vs. Switzerland 

Hosts Bulgaria started in the best way their campaign in Pool C with a comfortable 3-0 (25-8, 25-9, 25-20) victory over Switzerland. After the first two sets, Bulgaria head coach Ivan Seferinov made some substitutions and Switzerland managed to play better in the third, even though Bulgaria emerged victorious in the end. Nasya Dimitrova and Emiliya Nikolova scored seven points apiece for the “Lionesses”. Maja Storck finished the match as top scorer recording nine markers for Switzerland. 

Emiliya Nikolova, player of Bulgaria: “We were really concentrated but as you could see from the third set, when we lose focus, we immediately start making mistakes. Tomorrow I expect to start with our six best players. For sure Romania is a tough opponent, but we won our last two matches against them last year and back then we showed that if we play at our level, they do not stand any chance against us.” 

Gergana Dimitrova, player of Bulgaria: “In the third set we didn’t play as well as in the first two sets, but the most important thing is the final result. Romania play well, especially in defence. Now we will scout them and we will be ready for tomorrow’s match.”  

Sarah Troesch, player of Switzerland: “Bulgaria served really strong. They are very experienced and tall. Bulgaria played well from start to end and it was a little bit difficult for us, but I think in the third set we finally found our game. We scored 20 points and this is actually good. Bulgaria and Turkey are the best two teams in this pool but we will try to keep the level from the third set and take it to the next matches.” 

Thays Deprati, libero of Switzerland: “For us it was a really difficult game. We had a lot of problems in the beginning but we played better and better as the match progressed. We have a good feeling and I think the last set was really much better and now we are in the tournament. We feel ready for the matches to come.” 

Romania vs. Montenegro 

Romania completed the programme of the opening day in Sofia with a comprehensive 3-0 victory (25-23, 25-15, 25-16) over Montenegro. 

Dragan Nesic, coach of Montenegro: “Today the difference was 25 years. We had three players on the court who are only 15 years old. I am happy I can provide them with the opportunity to play at this level because they have a lot of potential and a bright future ahead. Congratulations to Romania. I hope in future my team will grow so that the next time we can beat them.” 

Nikoleta Perovic, captain of Montenegro: “Romania is a good team. We started pretty well and we played really solid in the first set but after that we didn’t manage to bring out our best game.” 

Madalina Angelescu, coach of Romania: “We are happy because my players performed really well. They played a good match. They understood the kind of spirit and motivation which they must have and show in a game like this. It’s very important to start the tournament with a victory, so for us this is a huge moment. Bulgaria is the best team in this pool. Tomorrow’s match will be a very difficult one. They have a lot of experience but we will try do our best and this is Volleyball, so you never know what can happen.” 

Adina Salaoru, captain of Romania: “For us this is a very important tournament. We really, really wanted to start with a victory. We are glad that we finally managed to beat Montenegro, because we are teams of the same level but maybe today we were the luckier ones. Bulgaria is a really strong team but you know, anything can happen in sport.”
Pool D in Kortrijk (BEL) 

As many had expected and predicted, the women’s World Championship qualifier in Kortrijk started with easy victories for hosts Belgium and Italy in their respective matches with Latvia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Belgium beat Latvia 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-12) and the coach of the Yellow Tigers, Gert Vande Broek, said: “It was a good way to warm up for the remainder of the tournament.” Italy showed little mercy for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the third and last match of the opening day (25-12, 25-12, 25-13). “We could try some tactics and test some players; we had a good start to the tournament by playing this kind of match,” said Italy coach Davide Mazzanti.


The result of the first match was a little more surprising as Belarus routed Spain in three sets too (25-14, 25-20, 25-13). Aliaksandr Klimovich, coach of Belarus, was obviously pleased with this result. “The way we won this match makes me happy and hopeful ahead of the next games,” he said. “Our tactical plan was good, we could read their game from the first minute, we remained concentrated until the end, our block was outstanding and our counterattacks worked well too. Of course, we have some experienced players on our team, but our setter remained calm all the time, and she listened to her coach,” he said. “What about the expectations for the rest of this tournament? Let’s enjoy the victory today, and after that we will be taking it one match at a time and see how far this is going to take us.” 

Pool E in Baku (AZE) 

The Netherlands vs. Norway 

The Netherlands – together with Azerbaijan the ‘hottest’ candidate for the top spot in the pool – added a second victory to their tally as they easily beat Norway 3-0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-13). The Netherlands showed an impressive quality in their game and as a result, they still have not dropped a single set in the two matches they have contested so far in Baku. Team captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues finished the match with nine points and said: “I think we delivered a very good performance, we have won two matches so far and we feel the rhythm of the game. I think we can do even better in the next matches against Israel, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. The team is 100% ready for the matches still to come.” 
Norway head coach Odd Atle Ekerhovd took some positives from the match despite the 0-3 loss. “We did a good job in reception and in some other aspects of the game. We keep on learning and we hope to play as good as we can in the next matches.” 


Ukraine vs. Azerbaijan 

Azerbaijan emulated the Netherlands as the hosts also claimed their second 3-0 victory in the tournament, this time dispatching Ukraine in three sets (25-17, 25-17, 25-21). Azerbaijan came out with all guns blazing leading 10-5 in the first set as Natalya Mammadova and Polina Rahimova joined forces to contribute to a real Volleyball show, finally resulting in a comfortable 25-17 win for the home side. Ukraine found their rhythm in the second set, thus claiming an early lead (8-5) before Azerbaijan responded to make it 10-all. Mammadova scored some terrific blocks and showed a very solid performance in reception as well to pave the way to another 25-17 set win for Azerbaijan. Ukraine attempted to change the course of the game in set three leading 16-14 at the second technical time-out, but Azerbaijan fought back (17-17) and eventually closed the match at 25-21. 
“We needed a victory, especially since this match was very important for us. I think we did a good job, especially in reception. We immediately start preparing for the next matches as we want to extend our winning streak through to the end of the tournament,” said Azerbaijan libero Valeriya Mammadova (Korotenko). 
“Azerbaijan played a really good game. We wanted to win but we missed our opportunities towards the end of each set,” said the head coach of Ukraine, Gariy Yegiazarov.

Denmark vs. Israel 

Israel celebrated their first victory in Baku as they beat Denmark 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-18). Despite the final score, it was a fairly close match and the Scandinavians put up a real fight against a young Israeli team. They did so especially in the second set where they rallied to an 8-4 early lead before Israel fought back and eventually took three points from this match. Israel’s most experienced player, Anna Velikiy top scored with 24 points. 

Pool F in Viana do Castelo (POR) 

Germany vs. Slovenia 

After a bit of slow start to each set, Germany could finally impose their rule and did so with their blocks and attacks to produce a 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-22) victory in their matchup with Slovenia. Germany opposite hitter Louisa Lippmann was the top scorer of the match with an impressive personal tally of 21 points. “I am very happy and proud since we took three points while facing a team as good as Slovenia. The first match of any such competition always goes along with quite much pressure, since all the participating teams want to qualify to the World Championship,” said Felix Koslowski, Germany coach.


Portugal vs. France 

The home team of Portugal, featuring several young players, some of them making their international debut, record a hard-fought victory over France 3-2 (25-21, 13-25, 23-25, 27-25, 15-13) which will certainly provide a further boost of motivation to the young Portuguese ladies. Manuel Almeida, Portugal assistant coach said: “Many young players gave their contribution to this win against such a strong team as France and that’s a huge motivation for this group.” Home star Julia Kavalenka was the best scorer of the match with 25 points. 


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The 28 years old American Murphy Troy ended career :yikes:


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A nice promo video by FIVB


less than 24 hours now:clap:


first match of the tournament (Group II :SLO vs :FIN tommorow at 9:00 CEST  :d


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Greece beat Croatia 3:0 :yikes:


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Volleyball powerhouses with immaculate record after second day of World Champs qualifiers 



Luxembourg, June 1, 2017. Russia and Greece (Pool A), Turkey and Bulgaria (Pool C), Italy and Belgium (Pool D), Azerbaijan and The Netherlands (Pool E) as well as Germany and Portugal (Pool F) have a perfect record of two wins in as many matches following completion of the second competition day in the European qualifiers to the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Japan 2018. The eventual winners of the five tournaments taking place this week will join Serbia (who finished first in Pool B last week) to start composing the European contingent for next year’s Worlds. This will also include the winners and runners-up from the third round qualifier scheduled for mid-August featuring the five second-placed teams from the tournaments coming to an end on Sunday, June 4 plus the Czech Republic, who finished second in Pool B.  

Pool A in Osijek (CRO) 

Austria vs. Hungary 

The second competition day at Gradski Vrt sports hall in Osijek started with a dramatic match where Austria eventually beat their neighbours from Hungary 3-2 (27-29, 25-22, 25-18, 11-25, 15-12). Austria coach Svetlana Ilic was visibly happy with the result and the victory. “We have a completely new team, so it is challenging and heavy to play five sets for these young girls but the eventual victory is a really big thing for us. We are especially proud of this victory since coming here we were regarded as the outsiders in this tournament.” “What to say after this kind of match? We somehow gave it away to Austria and provided them with a nice present,” said Hungary head coach Alberto Salamoni. 

Russia vs. Georgia 

Reigning European champions Russia needed only 59 minutes of play to rout Georgia 3-0 (25-8, 25-6, 25-13). Iuliia Kutiukova and Irina Zariazhko-Koroleva were the best players for the Russian powerhouse in this match. Georgia coach Paata Ulumbelashvili commented: “We know that Russia have the best team in these qualifications and are one of the top teams in the world, so it is always difficult to play such an opponent, and this you can clearly see from the final result.”


Croatia vs. Greece 

The home fans did not have anything to celebrate on Thursday night as Greece beat hosts Croatia 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-18). The crowd was expecting a big victory from Croatia but this did not happen. “We had an opportunity and we did not use it, but this is not the end of the world. We have to remain concentrated and focus on tomorrow’s match,” said home star Ana Grbac. “I did not expect such an easy victory. We played the best we could and I think this has been the team’s best performance since I have been their coach,” said the leader of Greece, Georgios Rousis. 

Pool C in Sofia (BUL) 

Switzerland vs. Turkey 

Turkey confirmed their status of ‘hot’ candidate for first place in Pool C after claiming their second 3-0 victory in as many matches they have contested so far in Sofia, this time dispatching Switzerland in 63 minutes of play (25-16, 25-11, 25-17). 

Giovanni Guidetti, coach of Turkey: “We did our job. I saw some good things from my team and some bad ones, which we have to analyse later today. Our opponent played better than Kosovo did yesterday. I think that the level of the opposition is getting higher with each match and this is good for us, because I expect to be in perfect condition for our ‘final’ matchup against Bulgaria. Romania is a good team with good attackers and very good middle-blockers, so tomorrow we will have to play better than we did today.”

Naz Aydemir Akyol, player of Turkey: “It was not an easy game for sure. Switzerland was a better opponent than Kosovo, but the level of our opponents is getting higher with each day and we know that our strongest opponents are still on our way, so we used these first two matches to develop the right chemistry within the team because we didn’t have much time to prepare for this tournament. We need to improve many things because we want to qualify for the World Championship in Japan by finishing first in this pool.” 

Timothy Lippuner, coach of Switzerland: “I am very satisfied with the early stages of the match. Today we were ready to take up the challenge. Unfortunately, in the second set we struggled but we played well in the third one, so I am proud of the spirit shown by the team. We were better in reception, attack and service, so we made some progress from yesterday.”  

Laura Kuenzler, captain of Switzerland: “Yesterday we had a lot of problems in reception but today we managed to do our best in this aspect of the game. This gave us the opportunity to attack and serve well and I am happy with the progress we could see compared to yesterday’s game with Bulgaria.” 


Montenegro vs. Kosovo 

Later in the afternoon, Montenegro claimed the Balkan derby with Kosovo 3-0 (25-20, 25-7, 25-5) in a match which was only the second ever for Kosovo’s senior women’s national team on the international stage. 

Dragan Nesic, coach of Montenegro: “For our team every victory is important. It does not depend on which team we play, we must be happy with any good results. We were not enough concentrated in the opening set but in the next two we improved our performance. For sure we are not the best team here, but we are not the weakest opponent. Officially, this is the first victory for us this season. I congratulate my team and of course all respect for Kosovo.” 

Ksenija Ivanovic, player of Montenegro: “It was a good match for us, we were the better team today and I hope this positive trend to continue in the same way in the coming days. Yesterday we lost to Romania and so it was important to win today.” 

Lorik Ilazi, coach of Kosovo: “In the first set we started really well. We played tactically very good, and my players followed the game plan we had agreed upon. Our reception was stable and as a result, the first set was a close call. This was our goal before the match; in the following sets I made some substitutions, since it is important that all players feel the rhythm of the game and gain experience from international competition. Of course, congratulations to Montenegro. They deserved the victory.” 

Anyla Kryeziu, player of Kosovo: “We are a really young team and this is our first big international tournament. Maybe emotions caught us during the matches we have played so far and we didn’t manage to show our best level. We must keep working hard.” 

Romania vs. Bulgaria 

Bulgaria emulated Turkey to claim their second 3-0 victory in as many matches in Pool C as they beat their neighbours from Romania after 77 minutes of play (25-23, 25-15, 25-21).  

Pool D in Kortrijk (BEL) 

Even though hosts Belgium and Italy lived up to their status of pre-favourites and cruised to 3-0 victories in their respective matches with Spain and Belarus, these games were closely-fought and surprised were not too far away. “After the first set, where the Italian star player Paola Egonu successfully finished 80% of her attempts, our block started working better and better,” explained Belarus coach Aliaksandr Klimovich after the match. Anastasiya Harelik is confident that Belarus can achieve even more: “If you give us some more time to practice, we can certainly reach a higher level. Of course, today every player wanted to be excellent against a team as strong as Italy. We were all very motivated,” she said after Italy emerged victorious 3-0 (25-12, 26-24, 25-22). 
Italy coach Davide Mazzanti was not so pleased with the performance of his team. “After a very good first set, we had problems with their variety of serves, their good defence and their well-performing counterattacks. On Sunday against Belgium I want my players to play with a lot more aggressiveness. We can definitely play better than we did today.”


The Yellow Tigers – supported by a lot of spectators wearing a yellow hat – had problems with the good defence of their opponents for one set, but after that Lise Van Hecke, Freya Aelbrecht, captain Charlotte Leys and Laura Heyrman were too strong in the remainder of the match (3-0; 25-21, 25-18, 25-14). “We know the Belgians very well because we practiced together a few times,” explained Spanish coach Pascual Saurin. “However, we could only play two friendly matches while preparing for this tournament. So, our aim is to make some progress with each match, while the Belgians want to qualify to the World Championship.”

In the last match of the day in Kortrijk, Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Latvia 3-1 (25-11, 25-21, 25-27, 25-12). 

Pool E in Baku (AZE) 

Norway vs. Ukraine 

On Thursday Ukraine bounced back from their loss to Azerbaijan the day before to rally to a 3-1 victory (25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-17) in their matchup with Norway. Ukraine’s star player Olesia Rykhliuk had to follow the game from the side-lines after catching a gold. Despite this, Ukraine stormed to an early 8-3 lead before Norway fought back to edge ahead at 14-13. Ukraine, however, responded in the best way to win the first set 25-21. Norway caused a little sensation by taking the second set after rallying to an impressive 20-14 lead, before producing a 25-22 final score. However, Ukraine regrouped to win set three and four and eventually take three points from this game. Hilde Elvebakk from Norway was the best scorer of the match with 20 points.
“I am absolutely pleased with my team. We played really well against an opponent as strong as Ukraine. My players showed very dynamic Volleyball and I can say that we are improving our game with each match. I hope we will continue in the same way for the remainder of the tournament,” said the head coach of Norway, Odd Atle Ekerhovd.  


Azerbaijan vs. Denmark 

Azerbaijan made it three wins in as many matches so far after cruising to a comprehensive 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-14) victory in their matchup with Denmark. Their head coach Faig Garayev decided to make some changes to the starting six, with Natalya Mammadova enjoying some rest and Jana Kulan taking a lot of responsibility in attack. Kulan eventually finished the match with nine points, as Yelyzaveta Samadova scored 11 times. Polina Rahimova was on a class of her own as she registered 29 points. 
“We have good players also among our substitutes and the coaching staff decided to give an opportunity to every player on the team, so that they all can feel the rhythm of the game. Now we need to step up and prepare as good as we can for the next matches with Israel and the Netherlands,” said Rahimova. 

Israel vs. The Netherlands

The Netherlands also claimed their third straight victory in Baku but they dropped one set in their matchup with Israel (25-19, 25-11, 22-25, 25-15). The Oranjes achieved this result through a combination of monster blocks, strong serves and precise spikes. After easily routing Norway and Denmark earlier in the tournament, the Netherlands had to play an opponent of a higher calibre. Robin de Kruijf did some good work at the net with her blocks as Celeste Plak spiked many times to help Holland claim a 2-0 lead in the match. Israel, however, did not accept an easy loss and they stormed to a 15-12 lead in the third set; though the Netherlands responded by scoring three times in a row, and even edged ahead at 17-16, Israel put up a fight and eventually had the upper hand at 25-22. However, after this setback, the Oranjes came back strong in set four to take three points from this game and can now prepare for the all-deciding matches against Ukraine and Azerbaijan coming up on Friday and Saturday. 

Pool F in Viana do Castelo (POR) 

France vs. Slovenia 

Looking determined to take their first points in the competition after their 0-3 heavy loss to Germany on Wednesday, Slovenia started the match quite aggressively and kept the pressure high through to the end (25-17, 25-15, 25-16). They just didn’t allow the French to breathe and were able to hold on to their early leads in each of the three sets, even though the second one was a lot more closely contested at least at the beginning. In the end, Slovenia coach, Italian-born Alessandro Chiappini said: “We are still in the race, thank God! Today the team played more relaxed, and compared to yesterday’s match we showed what we are capable of and I am very pleased with what I saw. After the defeat against Germany we deserved one more chance, since we want to fight for the qualification to the World Championship.”


Portugal vs. Finland 

Portugal caught a slow start to the match but supported by their fans, the hosts were able to win the first set and almost completed an epic comeback in the second one, with the Portuguese setter’s experience being a key factor and with Finland having difficulties to deal with it. The following set saw Portugal making a few more errors and the visitors took full advantage of this to take the lead in the match. However, Portugal could capitalise on an early advantage they had in the fourth set to extend the match to a tiebreak and eventually claim their second victory on home soil in as many matches (3-2; 25-23, 27-29, 17-25, 25-22, 15-12). Julia Kavalenka from Portugal was the best scorer of the match with 31 points, one more than Finland’s Piia Korhonen. Antonio Guerra, Portugal’s coach said: “Our team is very competitive and it is growing. Tomorrow we will face the favourite team from Germany. However, we should remember that sometimes you just need to change a little thing to the most perfect machines to disrupt their functioning.” 

Estonia vs. Germany

In the last match of the day Germany confirmed their position as one of the favorite winning once again by 3-0, this time against Estonia. Portugal and Slovenia will probably be the biggest obstacles in the Germans path towards the World Championships in Japan. Maren Brinker, Germany’s captain is aware of that fact “the biggest difficulty is that all are waiting to see our team easily winning all our matches, so our focus has to be always at maximum level. Portugal played two very emotive matches and plays with the public mostly on their side, what grants them extra strength. We will have to put on the court all our power to add another victory”.


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