Illustration photo – Match of the 3rd round of Group C of the European Volleyball League: Czech Republic – Estonia, June 3, 2023, Ostrava. Daniel Pfeffer from the Czech Republic.
Nitra (Slovakia) – Czech volleyball players will play in the Final Four of the Golden European League and have a chance to defend their triumph. They won 3-0 in Slovakia today to secure top spot in Group C regardless of the result of Finland's match against Estonia in the evening. In the culmination of the competition, Jiří Novák's men will play host to Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine next weekend in Zadar.
After four wins from the previous five matches, the Czech Republic was in a good position before today's duel in Nitra, a point was enough for a possible loss of 2:3. Although the Czech volleyball players initially lost in the first set, they bounced back to 11:8 and, thanks to good defense at the net and a productive attack, won without any major problems 25:19. The set ended with an ace by the all-rounder Marek Šotola, who was the most productive player of the Czech team with ten points.
However, more or less the entire second set belonged to the Slovaks. The Czech team struggled with passing, didn't have such an effective service, and the defense didn't do well either. Thanks mainly to the all-rounder Patrik Lamanc, the home team led by five points and had two set points at the end at 24:22. But they didn't use any of them, they added more errors and the Czechs turned the set in their favor with four points in a row.
With this, they secured promotion to the top four teams of the Europa League. Due to this, coach Novák changed the lineup. Only sweeper Lukáš Vašina, blocker Josef Polák and libero Milan Moník remained on the board from the starting seven. Even the substitutes did not let themselves be embarrassed and the Czechs won the third set clearly 25:18.
In the four-member group of the European League, they hesitated only in Estonia, when for the first time they had to rely only on the young recorders Jiří Srb and Šimon Bryknar. “We advanced to the Final Four, won five matches out of six, today I evaluate very positively. For future matches, the basis of what we want to play is in our game. But we will have to add in individuals, play for the team, think about what we can allow and what not,” coach Novák said in the press release.
Captain Adam Zajíček was also happy with the progress, but he warned against uneven performances in different passages of the match. “Especially in the Final Four, there will be minimal room for error. But I'm happy with the game we played. I'm glad it's paying off and I hope we continue to do so,” he said. “In my opinion, the break in Estonia came in handy. We were too confident in our performances and the mutual trust in the abilities of the players within the team did not work. We are glad that it came early. We know that there are still many places where we are pushed by the boot, and before with the European Championship, we must avoid such performances,” he added.
The composition of the Final Four of the Golden European Volleyball League will be the same as last year. Back then, the Czechs beat Ukraine 3:2 in the semi-finals in Varaždin and beat Turkey 3:1 in the final.
European Volleyball League:
Group C – 6th round (Nitra):
Slovakia – Czech Republic 0:3 (-19, -24, -18)
Referee: Cesare (It.), Schimpl (SR). Time: 79 min. Spectators: 1900.
Composition and points Czech Republic: Licek 8, Zajíček 6. Šotola 10, Vašina 7, Polák 5, Srb 2, libero Moník – Indra 7, Špulák 3, Bryknar 1, Cech 5, Benda . Coach: Novák.
Most points for Slovakia: Lamanec 16, Firkaľ 7.
Finland – Estonia 3:1 (-24, 22, 23, 18)