This is one of the most astonishing conclusion at Women’s EuroVolley 2013. Underestimated Croatia defeated much more respected team as the Netherlands in tie-break and secured a spot among eight best crews in Europe. The Mediterranean country may celebrate the most impresive achievement at European Champs since 1999, when took silver, while Holland repeated an annoying result 16 years before.
Croatia – The Netherlands 3 – 2 (23-25, 25-11, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11)
Croatia: Grbac 1, Jerkov 7, Milos 14, Popovic 18, Topic 22, Poljak 14, Malevic (L) and Brcic, Alajbeg, Fabris 15, Cutuk
The Netherlands: Stoltenborg 7, Buijs 15, De Kruijf 11, Flier 11, Grothues 9, Steenbergen 10, Knip (L) and Pietersen 2, Renkema, Plak, Belien, Dijkema
After the first minutes the Netherlands gained a small leadership of two points (5-3) in the first set. The teams set on strong serves which caused problems on each side of the court. The crowd saw great block action by Sanja Popovic and a Croatian Team which took on a one point lead until the first technical time-out (8-7). In the sequel the Netherlands as well as Croatia tried to keep the pace with their wing-spikers Anne Buijs (5 points) and Mira Topic (6 points). It didn´t changed the course of the game, both teams battled hard till the end of the first set (19-19). In a thrilling final phase Robin de Kruijf decided the first set at 25-23.
At the beginning of the second set the Netherlands offered problems with their reception and enabled their opponents an outclass start (8-1). Croatia dominated and defended the earlier advantage (20-9), but it was a disastrous performance by the defense of the Dutchwomen with only 39% successful receptions. However the Team of Igor Lovrinov performed very well in attack and wrapped it up to 25-11.
The Netherlands needed a better start into the third set. And it seemed that they had recovered from the shock and led at the first technical time-out 8-5. Now Croatia had problems to put the team of Gido Vermeulen under pressure with their serves. Especially Maret Grothues returned 60% of Serbian attacks to her and had a big share at the six-points lead (16-10). But Croatia fought back bravely and reduced the result with a 10-4 run (20-21). In the final phase Martina Malevic cut a sorry figure and caused three points in a row in the third set, which was ended by a block of Robin de Kruijf. (25-22).
Three sets down, but Croatia didn´t give up in the third set. They set the pace right from the beginning and reached a three points lead (16-13) until the second technical time-out. But like in the second set Croatia got problems in attack to lose their advantage from 18-17 to 18-20. After that Robin de Kruijf dominated on the net with two blocks and cared out the big chance for her team to book the quarterfinal ticket. But things never turn out the way you think, because it was the Team from the Netherlands which lost the set with easy mistakes. Samanta Fabris added a kill to 24-23, an another failure by the Netherlands closed the set at 25-23.
Croatia started very well in the fifth set and gained a 9-5 lead. The Netherlands lost their concentration and the Croatian Team was able to stay ahead until the end (15-12) to celebrate their ticket for the quarterfinal at the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women. As a result of this the home heroines of Germany will face Croatia in the quarterfinal on Wednesday at 8pm.
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