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19/07/2015 00:42
Italy and France claim ticket to ‘grand finale’ at WEVZA U19 Men’s Championship
News from the Zonal Associations

Valladolid, Spain, July 18, 2015. Italy and France will meet in the final match of the WEVZA U19 Men’s Championship. Italy shut out Germany with a commanding 3:0 win in Saturday’s semis whilst hosts Spain and France battled it out for five sets in the other semi-final before the young Bleus emerged victorious after a thrilling tie-break. The gold medal match will start at 17:30 local time on Sunday at the Polideportivo Pisuerga sports hall.  Before that Germany will challenge Spain for the bronze medal. Portugal and Switzerland will face off for the fifth place, and Belgium and Netherlands will fight for the seventh position in the final standing of the tournament.  

Italy claimed their ticket to the final match with a straight set victory (25-14, 25-20, 25-21) over Germany. The two teams that later this year will also participate in the World Championship in Argentina were expected to deliver a real ‘clash of titans’ in Valladolid. However, there was not much of a discussion during the first set.  The Azzurrini had more self-confidence, committed fewer errors than the opponent and comfortably cruised to the final 25-14. Germany found momentum in the second set and they were able to keep the score tight until Italy recorded four points in a row for the final 25-20. The third set went almost the same way. In the early stages there were continuous ties until Italy scored another positive streak to pocket their ticket to the gold medal match.  
Italy’s mentor Mario Barbiero said: “We played a very good match. I was hoping for this kind of performance since this was an important match, not only for the WEVZA Championship but also for the next World Championship. I’m very happy for Italy. I hope the final against France will be a wonderful match.”
Germany’s coach Matus Kalny commented: “In the first set Italy was far better than us, but in the other sets we played well. We conceded three-four points in a row and this way we also lost our options to edge ahead in the second and third sets. Today Italy was simply better than us, this was the key.”

France took the second spot in the ‘grand finale’ of the tournament after besting hosts Spain in five sets (27-29, 25-13, 23-25, 25-23, 15-11). The first set was a very thrilling and spectacular one, with a close end, where the two teams saved some set balls until the hosts sealed the final 29-27. France started with a very good performance in the second set and eventually drew level in the match. The third set was very even with both sides stepping up their spiking efforts but the Spaniards were more effective to reach the final 25-23. Les Bleus caught a flying start in the fourth set leading by as many as 10 points. Spain reacted trying to close the gap but they could not evade the tie-break. France was off to a 4:0 lead there and this was enough to bring the match to an end in their favour.  
France’s coach Olivier Aubradam said: “Today we played a good match. We are very happy for the win. We expect to play a great game in the final against Italy and to make amends for the loss we suffered in the group stage of the tournament.”
Spain’s mentor Benjamin Vicedo said: “We made many mistakes today. We could keep control of this for the past days but today we were not able to do so. My players made a great effort. We needed to grow and this match was a perfect opportunity to achieve this goal.”  
Switzerland beat The Netherlands 3:0 (25-19, 25-23, 27-25) to get the right to vie for fifth place in the competition. The first set was easily controlled by the Swiss guys that opened up a gap that the opponent was never able to recover. The second set was very competitive, with frequent changes in the lead. The Dutch mistakes reduced the options for the ‘orange side’ and the team work of Switzerland resulted in a 25-23 set win for the guys from the alpine country. Switzerland performed with more quality and consistency also towards the end of the third set and this way sealed their 3:0 win to get the right to fight for fifth place on Sunday.

Portugal got their first victory in the tournament as they beat Belgium on Saturday and this way they also got the right to play the match for fifth place. Portugal fought for five sets but in the end had the upper hand in their match with the young ‘Red Dragons’ (25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13). Antonio Correa’s players started the match very well, with good serving and put their opponents under pressure thereby cashing the first set. The Belgians reacted in the second one to draw level and the score remained very tight also in the three stanzas that followed before Portugal showed a lot of determination to win the tie-break and get the chance to challenge Switzerland for fifth place in the final standing of the competition.

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