On the brink of defeat, Belarus came to a victory against Slovakia in four sets 3-2 (18-25, 23-25, 25-23, 30-28, 15-12), winning a spot in the European Championship round of 16. Slovakia was thus left without a spot in the knockout phase.
Italy easily defeated Switzerland 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 27-25) and confirmed first place in Group C, which was hosted by Zadar. Croatia won second place in Group C with four wins and one defeat, and will thus play against France in the round of 16 on Sunday, August 29, in Belgrade.
By winning third place, Belarus will play against Russia, and fourth-placed Hungary will play against Serbia. Italy will face Belgium as a rival.
The first round of 16 matches are scheduled for Saturday when Bulgaria-Sweden and the Netherlands-Germany will play in Plovdiv. The next day, Turkey-Czech Republic, Poland-Ukraine, Croatia-France, and Serbia-Hungary are scheduled. On Monday, Italy-Belgium and Russia-Belarus will close the round of 16.
“At the beginning of the summer, we had a goal, and that was to reach second place in the group. In my opinion, this is our best result. This is the reality, we showed our game. Our goal was to reach first place among the teams that are not at the best level. We have achieved that and we are happy about that. We won without losing a set against teams that are not at the highest level of their game. We are happy with this round of the competition because we showed some really good moments in our game. But some of our mistakes are continuous. If we want to be at a better level, we have to play with teams that are at a higher level than ours. Losing to Italy was hard for us to accept, because it is not easy to lose after four consecutive victories. Italy is in the best shape and we are happy to have had the opportunity to play a match against them. Our job is not done. We are proud and happy with what we have shown so far, but we still have a lot of work to do,” revealed Daniele Santarelli, coach of the women’s volleyball team.
Croatia will continue its journey and travel to Belgrade to play the EuroVolley 2021 last 16.
“From the beginning of the summer and throughout the entire Golden European League, which was very good preparation for EuroVolley 2021, our goal was second place in the group. We have achieved that. We knew from the beginning that Italy is at a higher level than all the teams that are in our group. They showed that even though they came a little demoralized after the Olympics. But this group served to restore the self-confidence they lacked. We are satisfied and we are preparing for the future. I am proud of my team. During these four months, there used to be difficult moments, but also more beautiful ones. I am happy that I was able to share everything with them. I have to praise all the players. This is the first big European competition and championship for some players, and their first serious national team competition for the first time. We had a good first part and we are happy to see that we have room for further progress. I know we can do even better and we are still working on it. The time we spent here in Zadar, which is one of my favorites in Croatia, made our preparations easier. It was easier for us to relax and forget about sports obligations, at least on days off by the sea,” concluded captain Samanta Fabris.
Rene Sain, Ema Strunjak, Božana Butigan, Nikolina Božičević, Laura Miloš, Lucija Mlinar, Matea Ikić, Beta Dumančić, Samanta Fabris, Martina Šamadan, Klara Perić, Lea Deak, Dinka Kulić and Karla Klarić play for the Croatia women’s team. The professional staff includes national team coach Daniele Santarelli, first assistant coach Diego Flisi, second assistant coach Simone Truzzi, fitness coach Daniele Alpi, physiotherapist Francesco Zucca, team manager Frane Žanić, team analyst Marko Greco and assistant coach Mirela Delić.
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