Illustration photo – Match of the 3rd round of Group C of the European Volleyball League: Czech Republic – Estonia, June 3, 2023, Ostrava. Martin Licek from the Czech Republic rejoices at the victory.
Prague – After the main group stage, both Czech volleyball teams await the final battle for the European League trophy, which they have already won in the past and are once again among the favorites. The men in Zadar will play both Final Four matches during the weekend. The women will face Ukraine twice, first on neutral Romanian soil, and then possibly a final double match.
Participation in the finals also means progress to the Challenger Cup for the elite world League of Nations. For both Czech teams, the competition is also a preparation for the main highlights of the season: the European Championship and then the Olympic qualification.
“Ukraine is playable, we can reach the final again,” said captain and striker Michaela Mlejnková in the association's press release. “Last year we played three friendlies with them in Tábor and we won each time. But we had a different team. Now I don't even know what composition the Ukrainian girls are playing in this year. But I think most of those girls played for Dnipro in the Czech extra league. But we certainly have chance to beat them.” she added.
The Czech women's volleyball players, led by Greek coach Jannis Athanasopoulos, will play against Ukraine on Sunday at 17:00 CET, and they will host the rematch in Tábor on Wednesday from 18:00. They have to do without the injured first setter Kateřina Valková.
“We have been playing with her for several years, we are used to her, so it will be a complication. But on the other hand, it is an opportunity for Kačka Pelikánová and Květa Grabovská, who they can take a look at the squad, play in the first six. It will be a great experience for them. And this is exactly what the coach wanted, so that new players could join,” Mlejnková added.
The Czechs lost to France in the final last year ( 0:3), they previously dominated the golden European League in 2012 and 2019. The men led by Jiří Novák managed to win the title last year, and it was after 18 years. In the 2004 season, they won the premier year with coach Pavel Řeřábek.
The volleyball players flew to Split today, they will play Saturday's semi-final against Turkey in Zadar from 17:00. They beat the same opponent 3:1 in the final last year. The second pair of the Final Four consists of the home Croatians and Ukraine, the day after the competition will culminate.