Match of the 2nd round of Group C of the European Volleyball League: Czech Republic – Finland, May 31, 2023, Zlín. From left Antti Ronkainen from Finland, Patrik Indra from the Czech Republic, Josef Polák from the Czech Republic and Martin Liček from the Czech Republic.
Zlín – After Saturday's win over Slovakia, the Czech volleyball players succeeded in the second match of this year's Golden European League. In the duel with Finland, they got knocked around after an unsuccessful first set and eventually won 3:2, winning the decisive tie-break 16:14. After two rounds, they remained the only undefeated team in Group C, and with five points they are in first place.
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Coach Jiří Novák changed the lineup. Luboš Bartůněk started on the recording instead of Jakub Janouch, and captain Adam Zajíček started on the block from the start. In the first set, the Czech volleyball players were not able to gain any ground against the tall Northerners. They lost from the beginning, in the end they only had a thirty percent attack success in this passage and lost it 16:25. “In the first set, we didn't have blood in our eyes, which was reflected in the attack, where we performed strikes at the level of the regional championship,” noted the Czech coach in the press release.
In the second set, his charges pressed for service, the all-rounder Marek Šotola and the smashers Lukáš Vašina and Martin Licek found their way through the Finnish defense, and the game turned. The Czechs built a three-point lead roughly halfway through the set, which they controlled and won 25:22. They did similarly in the third act. The promising 23:18 lead was reduced to 23:22, but the second all-rounder Patrik Indra closed the set at the final 25:23, who regularly came to the board for part of the set as part of the tactical rotation together with Janouch.
But the fourth set again belonged to the Finnish blockers. Severi Savonsalmi, who is more than two meters tall, was the most productive player of the guests with sixteen points, he scored eleven times with an attack. The Czech team was losing 15:18, and although with the help of Finnish hesitations they equalized at 22:22, they did not secure three points. At 23:23, Indra broke the serve and the Finns converted the first set point.
It was decided by a tie-break. His introduction belonged to the Northerners, but the sides changed at a score of 8:7 for the Czech Republic. The Czechs gained a key two-point lead 13:11 after a high-quality service by Lick, which the Finns returned only for free, and the subsequent attack on the point was converted by Šotola, the leader of the Czech team with twenty points. The Finns tied the game at 13:13 with another great defense, but Vaša won the match point twice. In the first, Zajíček spoiled the serve, but the second was converted by Bartůněk, who scored a direct point from the service.
“He decided the ball, which I probably wouldn't have expected for a match point. In the tie-break, it dragged on, until their reception flew off the sail and the better for us. I am satisfied that despite the changes we have made, the club wants to win. On the other hand, there are shortcomings that we will continue to work on,” Novák said.
Record player Janouch appreciated how his teammates performed on the pass. “We handled their serve well. Most of them were gliders, or they gave a combined serve, when we didn't know after the pitch if they were going to jump or give sails. We took care and won as a team, which is appreciated,” he said.
The Czech champions have another match in the Europa League on Saturday, when they will face Estonia in Ostrava. It has three points so far for a 0:3 loss against Finland and today's 3:0 win over Slovakia.
European volleyball league in Zlín:
Group C – 2nd round:
Czech Republic – Finland 3:2 (-16, 22, 23, -23, 14)
Referee: Boulangerová (Belgium), Buchar (Czech Republic). Time: 134 min. Spectators: 1350.
Composition and points Czech Republic: Licek 13, Zajíček 6, Šotola 20, Vašina 16, Polák 1, Bartůněk 2, libero Pfeffer – Indra 9, Janouch, Špulák 2, Klajmon 3. Coach: Novak.
Most points of Finland: Savonsalmi 16, Suihkonen and Jokela 15 each, Ronkainen 12.
Estonia – Slovakia 3:0 (17, 21, 20).
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