Russia and Poland earned spots at the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championships winning CEV European Qualifiers on Sunday. Both teams went undefeated to book trips to Mexico for the championships alongside Italy and Serbia, who were already qualified due to FIVB ranking. The U20 championships will take place in Boca del Rio and Cordoba, Mexico, July 7-16.
Russia topped Pool E, which included Turkey, the Netherlands and Croatia, with a 3-0 record, sweeping the Netherlands and Croatia before edging Turkey in the finale.
Poland won Pool F with a perfect 3-0 mark, including sweeps of Germany and Bulgaria and a four-set win over Belgium in the clincher.
Russia 3, Turkey 2
Russia rallied to defeat hosts Turkey 119-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-21, 15-10 in a winner take all match in Turgutlu. Turkey took an early 8-6 lead and boosted its advantage to eight at 19-11 en route to the 25-19 Set 1 victory. The hosts led Set 2 from wire to wire, boasting a 15-8 lead midway through and holding off a late Russia surge in a 25-17 win.
The Russians answered in Set 3, building a 16-10 lead and hanging on for the 25-21 win. Russia went up 10-7 and 16-11 before taking the 25-21 victory and forcing a decisive fifth set. The visitors scored six of the first eight points in the final set, but Turkey pulled within one at 6-5. The Russians scored three straight to take a 9-5 lead and closed out the match and punched their ticket to Mexico with a 15-10 win.
Russia won the service battle 12-8, but was outblocked 14-12 and outhit 39 percent to 37 percent.
“It was a very difficult match,” Russia coach Vadim Pankov said. In the third set, we had some luck on our side and won it. We made some substitutions and this paved the way towards the eventual victory.”
Anna Kotikova led the Russian side with 20 points, including 16 kills and three aces. Ksenia Smirnova added 14 points, while Angelina Lazarenko managed 10, including three blocks and three aces.
“We felt quite some problems in the first set also because of the Turkish supporters,” Russian captain Maria Vorobyeva said. “It was difficult to play against Turkey because they put a lot of pressure on us. However, we tried to fight back and we did so on and on.”
“The match was a real joy to watch for the spectators,” Turkey coach Mustafa Suphi Doğanci said. “We lost because we made too many mistakes. My players were really concentrated and focussed and it feels bad to lose after leading 2-0 in the match.”
Poland 3, Belgium 1
Poland earned its spot with a 3-1 win home over Belgium in the Pool F finale in Wieliczka. After a close battle early in Set 1, Poland surged ahead before closing out a 25-17 win on an ace by Julia Nowicka. The teams were tied 11-all in Set 2, but Belgium went up 21-15 and held on for the 30-28 win to even the match. After the intermission, Poland came out determined and cruised to wins of 25-13 and 25-17 to end the match and claim its spot at the World Championships.
Poland served up 15 aces in the match, while allowing just eight, and outblocked Belgium 11-3.
Natalia Murek scored 26 points to lead the Polish side with six aces and 19 kills. Zuzanna Gorecka added 15, including three aces. Maryna Lukasik chipped in 10 points, including two blocks.
For Belgium, Nikita De Paepe and Manon Stragier added nine points each.
“My team put all their heart to the game but the rivals were stronger,” Belgium coach Fien Callens said.