Poland and Ukraine booked their tickets to the U21 Men’s World Championships with qualifying wins over the weekend. Both teams went 3-0 in pool play to earn the spots at the championship in the Czech Republic, June 23 to July 2.
Poland and Ukraine join Italy and Russia, who qualified through FIVB rankings, and host Czech Republic as European representatives at the event.
Ukraine 3, Serbia 2
Ukraine defeated hosts Serbia 3-1 Saturday in Pozarevac to claim its spot at the World Championships by winning Pool E.
Ukraine led 20-15 in Set 1, but Serbia rallied to tie the score at 22-all. Ukraine, however, held on and won 26-24 on its second set-point chance. Ukraine led Set 2 from start to finish, leading 18-8 before clinching the 25-12 win. Serbia, however, answered by charging out to a 16-9 lead in Set 3. Up by just two at 20-18, Serbia scored five straight to take the 25-18 win and extend the match. Ukraine led 7-4 out of the gate in Set 4 and boasted a 16-11 lead at the second technical timeout. Serbia pulled within two at 21-19, but could not hold off the 25-22 Ukraine victory.
“We proved our quality today, we performed well and I am very satisfied with my team,” Ukraine coach Mykola Pasazhin said. “We deserved to win, but it was not easy.”
Ukraine won all major statistical categories, outblocking Serbia 10-7, serving up 10 aces to seven, and hitting at a 54 percent efficiency while allowing just 42 percent.
Timofii Poluian, Oleh Plotnytskyi and Dmytro Viietskyi managed 14 points apiece to lead Ukraine. Poluian added 13 kills, while Viietskyi managed 12. Plotnytskyi served up five aces and added nine kills.
Boris Busa led Serbia with a match-high 16 points, including 12 kills and two blocks. Miran Kujundzic added 14 points, all on kills, and David Mehic chipped in 12 points.
“I am proud of my players, they played against the European Vice-Champions and they stood up to them,” Serbian coach Vladimir Vasović said. “Unfortunately, it was not enough. Still, I will remember this generation of very talented players.”
Poland 3, Germany 0
Poland swept host Germany 25-23, 25-23, 26-24 to earn the second available CEV qualifying spot on Sunday.
After many long rallies, Poland was able to secure the 25-23 Set 1 victory. In Set 2, the teams played to a 21-21 score, but Bartosz Kwolek came through to lift the Polish side to a 25-23 win. Germany led by as many as five in Set 3, but thwarted four German set point chances before claiming the 26-24 win and the match.
“It was important to play flawlessly towards the end of the sets,” Poland coach Sebastian Pawlik said. “Germany played their best game and surprised everyone. They improved their performance and did so in an impressive way. Even though we made many mistakes, we are of course happy with our victory.”
Poland hit at a 50 percent efficiency in the match and outblocked Germany 10-8.
Tomasz Fornal downed 15 points to lead Poland, including 13 kills, a block and an ace. Norbert Huber followed with 12 points, including two blocks, while Kwolek added 11 points.
Germany hit at a 41 percent clip in the match as Matti Binder led the way with 13 points, including 10 kills and a 71 percent attacking efficiency. Linus Webber added 11 points, including three aces and a block.
“It was an amazing match and it does not happen very often that you get the opportunity to witness such a game,” Germany coach Johan Verstappen said. “I have to congratulate the team for fighting so hard, even though we were not able to score the crucial points towards the end of each set. Nevertheless, it was an amazing performance from my team and I am proud of the way these players have developed over the last two years.”