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Sweden off to flying start, Kosovo make history at #EuroVolleyU18W qualifier

28 OKT 2016 23:32
The 1st round of qualifications to the #EuroVolleyU18W started on Friday at Frejahallen in Falköping where hosts Sweden downed Iceland in three quick sets. Later in the afternoon, Kosovo emerged victorious in a dramatic five-set game with Georgia.
  • Uppdaterad: 29 OKT 2016 13:52

The hosts got off to a perfect start of their campaign on home soil in Falköping. The Swedish players came out poised and ready, claimed an impressive early lead (17-9) and surged on to win the first set 25-13. Iceland tried to improve the quality of their performance and succeeded in doing so, at least in the early stages of the second set. However, Sweden did not slow their pace down. Powerful spikes and devastating serves proved to be the winning recipe for the home side which helped them build a 19-13 lead. Matilda Klarin Ekholm joined actions and she immediately delivered an impressive performance as she managed to score several aces during her series of seven (!) straight serves which brought the home team all the way to a 2-0 set lead. The third set also became the last. Sweden rolled on to a comfortable 25-12 win and therefore secured a perfect start to the much anticipated tournament they are contesting on home soil. 

Robert Söderberg, head coach of Sweden: “This was a really solid performance. The girls did perform very well from the beginning. We were a little bit nervous in the first set but after that we just rolled on.” 

Lorenzo Ciancio, head coach of Iceland: “The game was very good. We are here to learn and to gain experience. It is the first time for Iceland in this competition and it is important for us to understand the difference between bigger Volleyball nations and us. There is a lot of positive things to work on.” 

Georgia vs. Kosovo 2-3 (25-17, 21-25, 20-25, 25-16, 13-15) 

Even before it got started, the matchup between Georgia and Kosovo was meant to be special. Not only was it the first match in the tournament for both teams, it also marked the first time Kosovo competed internationally in this age group.

The Kosovars seemed determined to seize the night as they took to the court with much motivation, something which anyone could have read in their eyes. This was reflected by the way they played in the first few minutes of the game. Kosovo took a commanding 10-4 lead, and at that time it looked like the team would continue the same way through to the end of the set. However, the opponent standing on the other side of the net had different plans. Georgia woke up and played a totally different game from then on. The Georgian youngsters slowly but surely closed the gap and eventually took the lead (12-11). Georgia continued to play with the same momentum and went on to win the first set (25-17).

Despite this early setback, the Kosovars showed great patience as they stuck with their game plan and they were soon rewarded with a quite quick revenge. With an impressive performance towards the end of the second set, they outplayed their opponents, bringing it to a happy end at 25-21. 

The third set became a close affair. The two teams took turns in leading the score, but the closer the set came to its conclusion, the better the Kosovars played. The five straight points which secured them a 25-20 set win were as impressive as they were important.

However, the Georgians responded by putting up a fight and delivering their best performance since the beginning of the match. After an early sprint they went on to win the fourth set at a canter (25-16).

The fifth and final set was just as thrilling as the rest of the game. Halfway the Kosovars made an effort to edge ahead, taking risks and playing really aggressive, tactics which soon proved to be successful. Even though Georgia levelled the score at 13-all, Kosovo eventually came out on top (15-13), thus crowning their international debut with a historic victory. 

Valon Nikqi, assistant coach of Kosovo: “This is the first international match since our federation joined FIVB earlier this month. So this victory was important to us in many ways. We played as a collective and won points in some really important moments. This was a big win!"

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

Skribent: Herman Sewelén
E-post: Adressen Gömd
















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