Pozarevac, Serbia, May 18, 2017 - Ukraine and hosts Serbia made a very promising start to their campaign at one of two European qualifiers on schedule for this week – with the eventual winners of the tournament in Pozarevac eventually securing their participation in the 2017 edition of the FIVB Volleyball U21 Men’s World Championship. 2016 U20 European silver medallists Ukraine beat France 3-1 before Serbia rallied to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over their neighbours from Bulgaria.
Ukraine started their campaign with a 3-1 victory (20-25, 25-16, 25-23, 25-20) over France after 102 minutes of play. France managed to match Ukraine, the reigning European vice-champions, only in the first set and in the late stages of the third. Ukraine were the better side as they looked well-organised and showed great potential in their game. They rightfully claimed their first victory at the tournament with Dmytro Viietskyi (pictured, #9) and Oleh Plotnyskyi top scoring with 17 points apiece.
“It is always hard to play the first match of any tournament and I think that there is a lot of room for improvement. We blocked and served well today, we have to be a little bit better in attack, but I am satisfied with our performance,” said Mykola Pasazhin, head coach of Ukraine.
The home stars of Serbia routed Bulgaria in just 72 minutes and with a maximum result of 3-0 (25-8, 25-21, 25-21). Serbia started fiercely and their opponents could only score eight points in the first set. However, in the second set Bulgaria came back and the fans witnessed a real battle. After the score stood at 20-19 to Bulgaria, Serbia managed to turn things around scoring several points in a row and ultimately wrapping it up at 25-21. In the third set the teams were pretty close in the early stages, but then Serbia went up by three points and managed to preserve this lead until the very end. David Mehić scored 18 points for Serbia in their winning effort.
“I want to congratulate my guys on this victory. It is a very important win for us. Furthermore, we showed a very intelligent play and I am confident that we are heading in the right direction. Now we have to prepare just as well for the next match,” said Vladimir Vasović, head coach of Serbia.
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