Busto Arsizio, Italy, October 10, 2015. As anticipated, Russia and Serbia will be clashing on Sunday for the top position in Pool D and for the right to bypass the playoff round and move on straight to the quarterfinals of the men’s EuroVolley 2015. On Saturday Serbia washed away all bad memories from Friday’s debut with Slovakia by opening the program of the second competition day at Palayamamay in Busto Arsizio with a straight-set win over Finland by 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-21). Russia achieved an easy 3-0 (25-14, 25-10, 25-15) win against Slovakia to keep a perfect record in the competition. On Sunday Slovakia and Finland will be playing for third place in the group and for the chance to continue their journey in the knockout phase of the volleyball highlight of the year.
Serbia vs. Finland (25-19, 25-15, 25-21)
Serbia opened the program of the second competition day at Palayamamay in Busto Arsizio cruising to a fairly compelling 3-0 victory over Finland before a crowd of about 3,000 fans.
The Finns started the match quite well with a solid block and good serves, thereby claiming the lead at the first technical time-out of the opening set (8-7). The Suomis could count on the support of more than 2,000 fans from the stands and they paid them back with a 10-9 lead after the first mandatory break. They extended that to 13-10 following a powerful spike by their star player Olli-Pekka Ojansivu and a winning block. However, after a mistake by Finnish team captain Antti Siltala, the score soon stood at 15 all. Serbia managed to organize their game more efficiently and jumped to a 20-16 lead and after an ace by Srecko Lisinac they got as many as five set points, with the first being cashed on a superb cross court by their star opposite Aleksandar Atanasijevic (25-19).
Serbia had to fight also in the second set where the score remained tight up to 8 all as Finland continued to perform well, mainly via their most prolific player Ojansivu. Atanasijevic then contributed to a 13-9 lead for Serbia and after one more Serbian point, this time claimed by Marko Ivovic, Finland’s mentor Tuomas Sammelvuo stopped the actions. However, Serbia looked just unstoppable, broke away to 20-14 and comfortably finished the set off at 25-15.
There was a lot of tension in the third set and yellow cards were given to players from both sides. Neither of the two teams was willing to give up and the score was leveled at 6 all following a spectacular rally closed by Sauli Sinkkonen for Finland. However, Serbia responded immediately and an attack by Marko Ivovic made it 8-6 in their favor at the first technical time-out. Finland stormed back with two straight spikes by Konstantin Shumov and an ace by Ojansivu cut their deficit down to one point (11-12). After a very close battle, Serbia edged ahead again (16-14, 23-21) and Ivovic closed it all out at 25-21 for a 3-0 win.
Aleksandar Atanasijevic was the top scorer of the match with 15 points while Finland’s ace Olli-Pekka Ojansivu recorded 10.
Serbia’s Uros Kovacevic stated after the match: “We are definitely stronger than Finland, but they served very well. We had to play really well in order to win this match. Tomorrow against Russia it will be a very difficult match, as it always is against them. In my opinion we played better than yesterday and we stand a fair chance of winning against Russia too.”
Serbia’s best scorer Aleksandar Atanasijevic said: “Today we showed that we are a strong team. Yesterday we played badly, and we ended up winning only at the tie-breaker, but now we are very much focused because tomorrow’s match with Russia will be very important. If we win against Russia we will move on straight to the quarterfinals and I am confident that we can make this happen.”
Finland’s spiker Olli Kunnari commented: “I think that the result speaks for itself. We were fighting very hard but at the end we were unable to keep up with them. They play good and are stronger than us. If Russia wins against Slovakia tonight, we will be fighting for third place in the pool, so tomorrow we will have some kind of a final with Slovakia.”
Slovakia vs. Russia 0-3 (14-25, 10-25, 15-25)
Russia keeps an immaculate record at EuroVolley 2015 since on Saturday late afternoon it thrashed Slovakia in three straight sets to cement its leadership at the top of the table in Pool D.
The defending champions immediately set the pace in the opening set cruising to a 4-1 lead and this way they forced the Italian-born mentor of Slovakia Alberto Giuliani to stop the game; still Russia continued to rock and was 8-5 up at the first technical time-out. Emanuel Kohut reduced the gap for Slovakia but Russia smashed down every ball jumping to a seven-point lead (16-9) at the second technical time-out. Russia performed just superbly in every compartment of the game and this resulted in a quick, landslide 25-14 set win.
As they seemed to experience real troubles to keep up with Russia, Slovakia was additionally side-lined by the injury suffered by their middle blocker Simon Krajcovic in the opening set. Russia’s team captain Dmitriy Muserskiy continued, relentlessly, to push his team ahead reaching the first technical time-out at 8-2. Slovakia played valiantly trying to keep the pace of their world-class opponent but they still trailed 16-7 at the second technical time-out. Even though Russian mentor Vladimir Alekno used some of his second lines towards the end of the set, this did not prevent the reigning Olympic and European champions to cruise to a massive 25-10 win.
At the beginning of the third set, Slovakia seemed to be able to come back as they trailed by only two points after the first technical time-out (3-8, 6-8). Once again Russia responded and Egor Kliuka widened the gap to 16-11 as the game was stopped again. The initial spark from Slovakia was smothered by the powerful serves of the defending champions who cruised all the way to their easy 25-15 and 3-0 victory.
The best scorer of the match was Russian captain Dmitriy Muserskiy with 14 points, while Tomas Krisko and Emanuel Kohut paced Slovakia with four apiece.
Russia’s captain Dmitriy Muserskiy said at the end of the match: “I am very happy with this victory. We were able to use this match to work on some special elements. We did well and the result speaks for itself. We prepared ourselves for the match of tomorrow by studying videos of Serbia. I believe that tomorrow it will be a very tough match.”
Slovakia’s team captain Martin Sopko: “It is very difficult to speak about this game because today there was only one team on the field and it was not us. I think Russia today showed us how to play volleyball. They play at a different level compared to us. Today we lost but we must now focus on the next match with Finland to try and qualify for the next stage of the competition.”
For more information on the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men in social media, please use the competition’s official hashtag #EuroVolleyM.