Friday 13 means “bad luck” to some people, but this was not the case today for the teams of Belarus, Bulgaria and  Slovenia who have recorded their first wins in Pool I of #EuroVolleyU17W. Day 1 of the competition gave many Volleyball emotions to the young players who showed fighting spirit and determination. Local fans and supporters of the other teams were also an important factor, making the atmosphere in sports hall Hristo Botev amazing and inspiring the teams to fight until the end.

Belarus vs. Serbia 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 21-25, 25-17)

•    Both Belarus and Serbia entered the court motivated, keeping the score close in the beginning of the opening set.  After a point-for-a-point play in the first minutes, the Serbian girls took a small lead trying to establish their rhythm of play, but Belarus didn’t give up easily. On top of that, the girls around head coach Dzimtry Kot managed to turn things in their favor (20-15) and eventually opened the match by 25-21.
•     Also in the second set the play kept on being intense and none of both teams lost their fighting spirit.  Eventually Belarus proved to be better, taking this set by 25-21.
•    The Serbian players were leading in the beginning of the third set, bringing back the intrigue in the match (8-4). Belarus seemed to have lost a bit of their rhythm, which made the head coach calling a time out by (9-12). There were some long rallies with both teams showing that the future of European women’s volleyball is bright.  Although Belarus tried to make a comeback in this part, Serbia put an “end of the discussion” by 25-21.
•    Belarus were “on fire” in the fourth set, leading during all the time and making it hard for their opponents.  Thanks to their good performance on the field, team Belarus managed to claim their first victory in #EuroVolleyU17W.
Dmitry Koz, head coach of Belarus: “Our opponents are really strong, but it was a good game for us. We were better mentally and I think that this was the key to the final victory.”
Jovo Cakovic, head coach of Serbia: “First matches are always very, very difficult. My team today did not perform well on defense, on reception and we lost because of that. I could say that the reception was the main problem for my team, but it is only the first match.”

Bulgaria vs. Russia 3-2 (25-18,23-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-12)

•    Home crowds were supporting the hosts of #EuroVolleyU17W, but there were also fans of Team Russia, making this way the atmosphere in Hristo Botev sports hall amazing.
•    Bulgaria scored 20 aces in total.
•    Although they started a little bit slowly in the first minutes, the players around head coach Stojan Gunchev found a proper response and opened the match.
•    Russia reacted well in the next set, but Bulgaria kept on controlling the game during most of the time. However, thanks to great actions in the end of this part Russia made the set score equal by 1-1.
•     The Bulgarian Lions got “hungry” for the win in the third set and without any big problems took this part. Their performance on serve was crucial for them in order to take the lead by 2-1.
•    The situation changed in the fourth set – there were no doubts in who was better (13-20) and Team Russia deservedly brought this match into a tie break.
•    Bulgaria stormed it out there at the beginning, but Russia managed “to get back in the game”. In the next moments the Bulgarians were “flying” . The tension on both teams got bigger, but Bulgaria’s reception was suffering. However, some good performance on block in the last minutes were the key points for Bulgaria to claim the final victory.
Stojan Gunchev, head coach of Bulgaria: “I am pleased with today’s match. Of course, because of the result, but also because of my girls, who played well organized. We had a serious problem with one of the players who was injured, but fortunately it is all fine now. I think that we deserved this win today, we were good on serving, but also as a whole. Also in the moments of tension, we managed to keep our minds fresh and thus we have won. We hope to continue to do so”.
Svetlana Safronova, head coach of Russia: “Today our team was nervous, it was the first game and a first game is always difficult, especially when the crowd in the sports hall is supporting so much their team. We will be searching to improve”.

Hungary vs. Slovenia 1-3 (18-25,20-25, 25-22,14-25)

•    Although they entered the court showing great emotion, Hungary couldn’t cope with the determination of Slovenia, who opened the match for 0-1.
•    Things seemed to be more equilibrated in the second part of this match with the play going point-for-a-point. With the set unfolding Slovenia took again control of the game and made a comfortable point gap of four points. Despite the attempts of Hungary to turn things in their favor (18-19), the Slovenian players were better in defense and on block and made the result 0-2.
•    Hungary started much better in the third set, leading by 6-0 and being more concentrated on the different components.  On the other hand, Slovenia were struggling to find their way of play, but step by step they got closer to their opponents. It was a “play of nerves” game, as both teams were performing good in the rallies, but let some unforced errors impact the score. In the decisive moments Hungary showed great skills in defense and took this set.
•    In the fourth set the Slovenian team started better and managed to make a 10 points difference.

Gabor Honig, head coach of Hungary: “ As I said yesterday we came here to have fun, but today we were a bit nervous and we couldn’t enjoy our game. I don’t think that we are under pressure, it’s just that these are very young girls. We had lot of ups and downs and I hope that in the next games we will have more ups, showing that we are able to play like in the third set”.
Jaros Stekl, assistant coach of Slovenia: “ I think that it was a great game. The third set was not good for us as we made a lot of mistakes, but then we managed in the fourth set to resolve our problems and eventually win. We served really good and we played very well also in defense.”