Baku, June 25, AZERTAC
Germany won 3-0 for the fifth match in a row as they beat Serbia to advance to the semi-finals of the men's Volleyball competition where they will meet Russia, the only team they have lost to so far.
Jochen Schops said the relative ease of winning the third set (25-17) was because the first two sets "broke" Serbia.
"We were consistent at the end of the first two sets and I think that broke them a bit at the beginning of the third set," explained the German captain. "We were not able to stop their game and we didn't have control (in the first two sets).
"We made a big break in the third set and it was easy. We still have a lot of potential and can play better. It's time to show it because it's the semi-finals."
Lukas Kampa epitomised Germany's determination in the first set when he retrieved what looked like a lost cause – and almost ended up in the stands as he helped his team win an unlikely point.
The two teams traded points before Serbia got into a 24-22 lead. After two wasted set points, though, Germany came back to take the set 26-24 courtesy of a Schops kill.
The second set was another close affair, and this time it was Germany's turn to falter at set point. They closed it out at the second time of asking, however, once more taking the set 26-24.
The final set was much more one-sided as Germany raced into a 12-5 lead. The remainder of the match was a formality, but it was fittingly a spike from Denys Kalbierda, celebrating his 25th birthday, that sent them into the final four.
Speaking about the semi-final against Russia, Schops said: "I think they will be prepared perfectly. They knew before the tournament that we are a good team and I think they will play with the same attitude and style."
The quarter-finals concluded with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) win for Russia against France. The first two sets were close between the two sides, but the moment of the match came in the third.
After a poor reception, it looked as if the ball would land beyond the advertising boards. However, Russia's Egor Kliuka vaulted the hoardings to bring the ball back into play and Dmitry Kovalev delivered the kill to make it 7-5 in Russias' favour. The celebrations were huge, on and off the court.
The other two semi-finalists were decided earlier in the day when Poland swept aside Slovakia to set up a decider with Bulgaria, who beat Turkey 3-1 in the second game of the day.