2018 FIVB World Championship – Men’s European Qualifier
- May 23 to June 4
It was a day of sweeps in Pool A of the European men’s qualifiers in Lyon, France with Germany, Turkey and France on the winning ends on Thursday, each moving to 2-0 on the tournament.
Germany topped Azerbaijan, Turkey edged out a feisty Icelandic team and the home French side dominated Ukraine in Day 2 action.
Germany 3, Azerbaijan 0
It took extra points in the opening stanza, but Germany registered a 29-27, 25-18, 25-18 sweep of Azerbaijan despite utilizing its reserve players for much of the match.
The Germans led for much of the first set, boasting a 16-13 lead at the midway point, but Azerbaijan rallied to go up 21-19, before succumbing to the Germans in the extra-point victory. Kills by Christian Fromm sealed the win. With the reserves in starting roles for Sets 2 and 3, the Germans finished off the sweep with matching 25-18 victories after leading 16-12 and 16-10 respectively.
“It was a bit difficult to move after the power training we did this morning, but we need to work also mentally to shorten the moments where we lack focus,” German opposite Gyorgy Grozer said. “Our goal is to win this tournament. Andrea Giani is a really good surprise for me because it’s fantastic to work with him. He totally understands us. He was an incredible player and he did not forget that. He is a precious help for the young guys who played the two last sets of this match against Azerbaijan.”
“Today’s situation was interesting because even though we played fearing we could lose the first set, at the end we won it, so this is a good thing,” German coach Andrea Giani said. “It was important to give to all the members of the team the opportunity to feel the rhythm of the game. The starting six will always need the other guys to be ready to play.”
The Germans hit at a 60 percent clip and outblocked Azerbaijan 6-3 and outserved the opposition 5-2. Jochen Schops and Moritz Reichert accounted for 10 points each in the win. Reichert downed nine kills, while Schops added eight kills and two blocks.
Parviz Samadov also tallied a match-high 10 points, while Rasul Ibragimov followed with nine.
“Our team is somehow still under construction,” Azerbaijan coach Farid Jalalov said. “We came straight from the Islamic Solidarity Games, where we played the final with Iran and won the silver medal. Today we played our seventeenth game in one month. The players are quite tired and three of our top ones are absent here.”
“We found the right solutions at the end of the first set but we are still a new team, and we need to learn how to play together,” middle blocker Dmitriy Obodnikov said. “We are learning from every match.”
Turkey 3, Iceland 0
Turkey dominated the first and third sets, but Iceland put up eight of its 13 blocks in the second set, pushing its foes to the limit in a 25-23 Set 2, before falling just short.
Iceland outblocked Turkey 13-4, but were aced nine times and gave away 21 points on errors in the 25-18, 25-23, 25-17 loss.
“Iceland played pretty well and we did not,” Turkish coach Josko Milenkoski said. “We tried four new players and it was a mess. The motivation was not high enough today. But still we take these three more points which are always important.”
Gokhan Gokgoz managed a match-high 15 points and hit at a 61 percent clip, while Yigit Gulmezoglu added 12 points, with nine kills, two aces and a block.
“We did not start well because we watched France vs. Iceland on TV yesterday evening and did not expect such a level from our opponent today,” Turkish captain Arslan Eksi said. “We were too relaxed, pretending it would be an easy game. One thing is for sure: we have to change everything tomorrow if we want to compete well against the reigning European champions.”
Theodor Oskar Thorvaldsson tallied 10 points, with seven kills and three blocks to lead Iceland.
“We could have done something more during the second set,” Iceland coach Rogerio Ponticelli said. “We excelled at blocking but it was a bit thanks to the Turkish hitters who tried to smash too deep. However, my players had great moments today and showed their value much more than they had done yesterday with France.”
France 3, Ukraine 0
After a back and forth battle in Set 1, France held home court the remainder of the match in a 25-20, 25-8, 25-15 win over Ukraine.
France led early in each set, but Ukraine rallied to take a 16-14 lead in Set 1. The French regained their composure, scoring seven of the next 10 points to go up 21-19 en route to the 25-20 win. From there on the match was never in doubt, especially in a 25-8 Set 2 drubbing.
“In the first set Ukraine played really well, so we decided to target Andrii Kutsmus who was the leader of the team at that time.,” French head coach Laurent Tillie said. “It worked and the whole team started to sink with him. We are satisfied with tonight’s performance. Our serve was strong, and the block as well. The atmosphere was incredible thanks to the crowd and the speaker, it was more than a Volleyball match, it was a show.”
The French served up nine aces and held Ukraine to a 32 percent hitting effort in the sweep. Three players led the way with double-digit point tallies. Thibault Rossard managed 13 points, including 11 kills and two aces. Trevor Clevenot (11) and Julien Lyneel (10) followed. Lyneel served up three aces. Kevin Le Roux put up four blocks.
Vasyl Tupchii was tops among the Ukrainian side with 10 points, all on kills.
“France came out with an amazing service tonight,” Ukrainian coach Ugis Krastins said. “To handle this service was our biggest problem. I am proud of the team since we came back in the third set, there were good rallies but the result is as it is…”