Focus on the ‘Players of the Day’ – August 29
The last day of the pool phase produced some superb individual performances, as teams fought bravely for a spot in the next round - or to cement their leading position in their respective groups. These matches set the tone for what is about to follow in just a couple of days – with the top 16 teams in Europe continuing their journey in the 8th Finals.
Pool A – Brankica Mihajlovic (SRB)
Brankica Mihajlovic was able to resolve some of the most difficult situations the reigning World and European champions found themselves in while playing hosts Turkey, with a noisy crowd of 10,700 fans in attendance.
“It was a very difficult match, even more difficult than I expected it would be and I am hoping that there will not be that many matches of this kind ahead of us,” joked the outside hitter, who scored 19 points in the match. Mihajlovic did not only perform well in attack, but she did so in defence as well, especially in a fourth set where Serbia had to stand a dangerous comeback from the ‘Sultans of the Net’. “I am happy we did not have to play a tiebreak, since I would not be able to tell how this would have ended,” she said.
Pool B – Malwina Smarzek-Godek (POL)
Never underestimate the heart of a true leader. With her crazy 53% success rate in attack (20/38) and three aces in a row for Poland in the first set of the match against Italy, Malwina Smarzek-Godek proved that she is one of the most powerful players of the whole tournament.
“We took many risks today, especially if you analyse our service. We talked a lot before this game and we motivated one another. These talks helped us use all of the chances Italy gave us today. We did it to show those who stopped believing in us that we are here to play good Volleyball and nobody should underestimate us,” the Polish outside spiker said.
Pool C – Polina Rahimova (AZE)
Polina Rahimova shone bright on the court in Budapest today.
The match against Romania was her own show. In the first set she served six aces, building a solid advantage for her team in the early stages of the game, adding to this another five points scored in attack. She did not spare her efforts also in the following sets. The 29-year-old opposite scored as many as 30 points during the whole game!
Her monster serve and powerful spikes were key to the success and victory over Romania with Azerbaijan finishing second in Pool C to stay in Budapest and play Bulgaria in the 8th Finals.
Pool D – Irina Voronkova (RUS)
Outside spiker Irina Voronkova scored 14 points against Slovakia and helped Russia secure second place in Pool D. Irina Koroleva, Kseniia Parubets and Nataliya Goncharova (all of them scored 10 points) joined forces with Voronkova to deliver a performance to which the home side of Slovakia could not find any response.
It was the second straight 3-0 victory for Russia after their surprising 2-3 loss to Germany. Russia have regrouped well to display some great Volleyball after that setback. Voronkova is confident that their mission for gold can continue.