FIVB World Championships – European Qualification Women
- May 24- June 4, 2017
Upsets were the order of the day in Pool F, with the exception of favorite Germany, which cruised to another win.
No. 21 Slovenia upset No. 14 France via sweep in the surprise result, while homestanding No. 27 Portugal edged No. 21 Finland and No. 3 Germany crushed Estonia.
Slovenia 3, France 0
Slovenia hit at a 55 percent clip, committing just eight errors, and got double-digit point tallies from three players in a 25-17, 25-15, 25-16 win over France on Thursday, earning its first victory of the tournament.
“We are still in the race, thank God,” Slovenian coach Alessandro Chiappini said. “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.”
Slovenia managed 10 blocks and held France to a 36 percent hitting efficiency in the win. Iza Mlakar scored a match-high 14 points for the victors, with 11 kills and three blocks. Tina Grudina added 12 points and Anita Sobocan followed with 10 for the Slovenians. Grudina managed four blocks and three aces.
Juliette Fidon led France with 12 points.
Portugal 3, Finland 2
Portugal’s Julia Kavalenka scored 31 points in a match decided by just two points (111-109) as the home side survived a five-set battle with Finland. No. 27 Portugal came back from down 2-1 in the match to grab the 25-23, 27-29, 17-25, 25-22, 15-12 victory.
“Our team is very competitive and it is growing,” Portuguese coach Antonio Guerra said. “Tomorrow we will face the favorite 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.”
Finland led the majority of Set 1, only to see Portugal rally from down 21-15 to steal away the 25-23 win. Finland led Sets 2 and 3 nearly from start to finish, capitalizing on 12 Portuguese errors in the former and turning in a 58 percent hitting efficiency in the latter. Portugal answered with a wire-to-wire Set 4 win, including four aces and three blocks, and carried the momentum into the decisive fifth set, in which the winners hit at a 55 percent clip.
Kavalenka turned in 26 kills, three blocks and two aces. Marta Hurst added 19 points, including 15 kills to aid the Portuguese effort.
Piia Korhonen managed 30 points for Finland, downing 24 kills and adding three aces and three blocks. Daniela Ohman followed with 12 points.
Germany 3, Estonia 0
No. 3 Germany made quick work of No. 32 Estonia, remaining atop the pool with a 25-18, 25-19, 25-20 win.
“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,” German captain Maren Brinker said. “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.”
Estonia led 8-6 early in Set 3, but Germany closed out the sweep with the 25-20 victory.
Germany put up 11 blocks and served up seven aces in the win. The Germans outhit Estonia 41 percent to 29 percent and capitalized on 22 Estonian miscues.
Brinker led all hitters with 14 points, including nine kills, three blocks and two aces. Jennifer Pettke added eight points, including five kills and two blocks.
Kertu Laak and Kristiine Millen scored 12 and 10 points for the Estonians. Millen tallied six kills and three aces, while Laak added a match-high nine kills.