Young Finns book ticket to U16 Women & U17 Men EuroVolley in NEVZA qualifier
News from the Zonal Associations
Brøndby, Denmark, December 21, 2016. The young teams from Finland celebrated Christmas a couple of days in advance as the they qualified to the Final Round of next year’s inaugural CEV U16 Women and U17 Men Volleyball European Championships. They did so by completing a clean sweep of their matches at the NEVZA qualifier held in Brøndby where hosts Denmark claimed second place and with it are through to the second round of qualifications.
Finland vs. Iceland 3-0 (25-7, 25-10, 25-9)
Finland’s girls claimed their third win in a row in Wednesday’s opening match against Iceland. With consistent high-level service the Finns made it hard for the Icelandic girls to find a way into the match, and the 3-0 win was eventually a reality.
Finland head coach Heikki Kosonen: “I am very glad that every player we send on court plays well and keeps scoring at the same level. We got the proof that we have a broad roster. I am especially happy with our service which was strong and solid, and I hope we can continue to serve like this in the last match. My compliments to Iceland that keeps fighting all the time.”
Iceland head coach Daniele Mario Capriotti: “We knew that Finland would be a huge team to play against. So we defined our own goal: to reach 10 points. We accomplished that in the second set, where we made nine and Finland only gave away one point. I want to compliment Finland which are very consistent and played at a high level throughout the entire match.”
Denmark vs. Finland 2-3 (14-25, 12-25, 25-17, 25-23, 10-15)
Finland blasted away from the beginning of the match knowing that two set wins would be enough for them to progress to the Final Round of the European Championship. After Finland had secured their two sets playing immense Volleyball, Denmark made a strong comeback and extended the match to the tie-break. Here Finland came out on top to finish the qualification tournament unbeaten.
Finland head coach Heikki Kosonen: “We played really well and concentrated in the first two sets, where we executed almost everything as planned. After that we were sure of the ticket to the Final Round of the European Championship and lost a bit of focus. Denmark started to play better, and if we let them play – they play good. It is a huge thing for us to qualify for the Final Round, and a big thing for Finnish women’s Volleyball. This is the result of many years of hard work. I am very proud, and the ticket to the Finals is a good prize for the girls. This is only the beginning.”
Denmark Head Coach Mats Björkman: “It is always bitter to lose, when the chance for a win is there. In the first two sets Finland played world-class Volleyball. It is not like we were playing bad, but Finland were just excellent. We had decided to play cynical and beat them from the side, we succeeded with that and created an awesome match for all. Of course I am sorry for the loss, but all the girls fought very bravely and with huge hearts. If we can manage to keep our average level more stable in the future, I believe we can play at the same level as Finland.”
Finland vs. Iceland 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-8)
Iceland fought well in their last appearance at the NEVZA EuroVolley qualifier against Finland. But halfway in the first sets, coach Aapo Rantanen’s troops took off and left the Icelandic team behind. Iceland ran out of fuel in the third, and Finland added another victory to their tally in the tournament.
Finland head coach Aapo Rantanen: “The match was as I expected it to be, hard in the beginning and then we gradually got a better grip of it. Of course, I am always happy with a win in a European Championship qualifier. I now look forward to the last match against Denmark. Anything can happen in that, but I believe we have quite a good chance of qualifying for the Final Round.”
Iceland head coach Borja Gonzalez Vicente: “This was the best match in the tournament for us. We started from scratch in the first match and improved gradually in the following ones. It has been a good experience for us and we go home to work on the things we have learned. I am happy with our first two sets, but we ran out of fuel in the third.”
Denmark vs. Finland 0-3 (24-26, 20-25, 10-25)
In the direct duel for first place in the pool and a ticket to the Final Round, Denmark and Finland gave each other a battle of the brave. Finland won the first set and thereby secured their place on top of the standing. Though things were determined, the two teams kept playing high-level Volleyball. Denmark could not keep the same pace in the third set, and Finland wrapped it all up 3-0.
Finland head coach Aapo Rantanen: “It was our goal to qualify for the Final Round and we achieved that, so it was not a bad tournament for us at all. We were top seeded in the eyes of the other teams, and the guys handled that pressure quite well, especially in two tough sets against Denmark. We kept pushing, and that is why we stand here as winners. It is not an everyday thing to qualify for the European Championship, and I am very proud of the boys.”
Denmark head coach Christian Hesselberg: “The guys played a really good first and second set. We showed that we can play aggressive and push Finland all the way. We only made a few mistakes, kept a high service pressure and proved that we can match Finland. But I have to give my compliments to Finland which play very consistently in all aspects of their game, and each time we had just a little down period, they punished us. When I have a look at the tournament as a whole, I see a very positive progress of the guys and the team as a whole, and I am very satisfied with our performance.”