There will not be any surprising participant in the Women’s EuroVolley finals. Belgium, which deserved for this name, wasted an unique chance to win at least the silver first time in history despite leading already 2-0 and having a comfortable occasion to finish off the game in the third and fourth set. However, Germany exhibited almost paranormal will to fight and turned the tables on Belgium and claimed the semi-final. As a result, the “Yellow Tigers” will play for bronze, while Germany are standing in front of Russia to solve the question: “Who is the best in Europe?”.
Germany – Belguim 3 – 2 (17-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21, 15-11)
Germany: Waiss 3, Brinker 11, Furst 11, Kozuch 24, Beier 14, Ssuschke-Voigt 6, Duur (L) and Hanke, Hippe 4, Thomsen
Belgium: Dirickx 4, Leys 16, Heyrman 6, Van Hecke 21, Rousseaux 14, Aelbrecht 13, Courtois (L) and Van DeVyver, Vandesteene, Coolman
The guests from Belgium jumped out for an early 4-1 lead but were quickly caught up by a spirited German team. Captain Margareta Kozuch draw level at 7-7 with a blistering service winner. The Belgians responded with sharp serves on the German passers, mainly on Heike Beier. At the second technical timeout, Belgium led 16-13. There was not much to separate the two teams at that stage of the thrilling duel. The 7.137 fans pushed the home team with tremendous applause, but could not stop the persuading Belgian attackers. Hélène Rousseaux scored five times in the first set; captain Charlotte Leys, Freya Aelbrecht and Lise Van Hecke helped their team with four kills each. At 16-21, Guidetti called his ladies off court to give new instructions. It did not help as the “yellow tigers” continued their run. With a well-timed tip, setter Frauke Dirickx brought up set point at 24-17. Kozuch saved one with a hammer from the right. However, Denise Hanke served long to offer Belgium a well-deserved 1:0 set lead.
Both teams had struggled with their reception in the first set (35% positive receptions for Germany, 31% for Belgium), but compared to Germany, the Vande Broek squad had an excellent offense with 56% positive attacks (the hosts had only 36%). It seemed as Germany felt the pressure on their shoulders in the beginning of tonight’s duel. However, at the first technical break of the second set, the brave German ladies had turned the tables (8-6). Trailing 14-18, Vande Broek asked for a timeout and, two rallies later, sent in Ilka Van de Vyver for serving. It was the turning point of the set. Van de Vyver served eight times in a row to turn the score around again. Guidetti asked for two timeouts, but could not help his players until 20-23. Maren Brinker stopped the Belgium run with a missile from the left, but it was already too late. Two Aelbrecht winners finished the second set in Belgium’s favour (25-20).With 24% positive attacking, Germany was far away from their usual efficiency.
The hosts needed a quick reaction in the beginning of the third set to keep their hopes for a comeback alive. It was a tough battle now with both teams experiencing many ups and downs. At the second technical timeout, Belgium led by one point, 16-15. Led by extraordinary setter Frauke Dirickx, the “yellow tigers” opened the gap to two points at 18-16. Germany answered with a three-point run to regain momentum at 19-18. Van Hecke smashed long at 21-23 to offer Germany a two-point lead. Kozuch rapidly took advantage of it by bringing up set point for Germany with a scorching winner from back row. Another spiking mistake by slightly injured Van Hecke brought the hosts back on track. The Guidetti squad had increased their offensive game to 41% in the third set.
Even though the host came back strongly in the end of the third set, their game was still too instable. Belgium quickly regained control of the match in the fourth set, forcing Guidetti to call a timeout at 5-10. The Belgium defence players made tremendous saves and top scorer Van Hecke bounced back with some impressive strikes at the net. However, Germany gradually reduced the gap with better serving and improved defensive play. Maren Brinker hammered for a 20-19 German lead but Rousseaux immediately drew level one rally later. It was a roller coaster of emotions in Berlin’s Max-Schmeling-Halle with both teams displaying great fighting spirit at that moment of the match. Germany kept the upper hand in the deciding moments of the fourth set, moving tonight’s semi-final thriller in the fifth and deciding set. Compared to the previous sets, Belgium had committed more mistakes in the fourth set (9).
There was still not much to separate the two teams early in the fifth set. Belgium led 8-7 at changeover but Germany retook control two rallies later (9-8). It was probably the key moment of the match. The hosts rushed to an amazing finish with a 6-3 run to bounce the 7.137 fans in heaven. After 134 minutes of tough battle, Heike Beier ended the marathon match with a blistering winner from the left.
With tonight’s win, Germany qualified for the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship in Italy.
ActionSpike pointsSpike %BlockServeRec. Pos.Rec. ExcErrorsGermany5235%14735%15%24Belgium5736%11627%11%27
ActionPointsSpike PointsSpike %Spike errorsBlockServeErrorsMargareta Kozuch242044%1134Lise Van Hecke212149%5006
Belgium captain Charlotte Leys: “Congratulations to Germany. They showed great fighting spirit. Two sets down, they took much more risk in serving. It was one of the key factors for their triumph tonight. I feel disappointed. Nevertheless, tomorrow we will have a second chance for a medal.”
Germany captain Margareta Kozuch: “Belgium played a great game, congratulations! I am very proud of my teammates. Only a very special team can turn the tables like we did tonight.”
Belgium coach Gert Vande Broek: “During two and a half set, we were very close to victory. However, Germany deserve the win. They took a lot of risk in the deciding moments of the match. I am sure the fans enjoyed tonight’s match. I have not seen all the matches of EuroVolley 2013, but I am sure it was one of the best matches so far. I am very proud of my players. Belgium has become a strong team in Europe.”
Germany head coach Giovanni Guidetti: “It is an amazing feeling. We won against a very strong team tonight. Congratulations to my players; even in the most difficult moments of the match they never gave up. Moreover, it was a victory for the supporters. More than 7.000 fans pushed us beyond our limits. Thanks to them we managed to make an incredible comeback.”
Description and press conference: CEV