Baku, September 22, AZERTAC
EuroVolley 2017 started in central Azerbaijan with Serbia against the Czech Republic at the Goygol Olympic Sport Complex dressed up to fit the occasion. Bringing Volleyball to this part of the country may have presented a few logistical challenges, but if the full hall is anything to go by it is all worth it. Despite a close start, Serbia dominated the first match taking their first victory in straight sets.
The 2,000 plus in attendance got more and more into the match as the set grew on, clearly being led by a core group of Volleyball fans from the local area. Both teams exchanged points early on with Serbia starting to show their power through Brankica Mihajlovic. Leading by two at the first technical timeout everything reversed at the second with Czech Republic ahead 16-14. Something happened as the teams gathered, with Serbia siding out before Jovana Stevanovic served her team to be 20-16 up. The team ranked 2nd in Europe maintained their lead and a crosscourt shot by Tijana Boskovic took the set for her team 25-22.
In the 2nd set Czech Republic captain, Aneta Kocmanova Havlickova led her team out determined to come back after having many positives from the 1st set. This is their sixth successive appearance in the Final Round and they would need to call on that experience. A great rally at 1-0 was finished by again by Boskovic and from there Serbia never looked back. Very quickly it was 6-2 for Serbia, then 11-4, 15-9, with the Czech team unable to reduce the deficit to less than six points. A close line challenge at 17-11 went the way of the Czechs, but this was not going to stop the Serbian team who strode to victory in the 2nd set 25-16.
Serbia came out determined to finish the match in three sets but the Czech team were having none of it. They kept the set close with it being a one point game at the first technical following a close challenge on a block touch. From here the Czech team pushed on and established a three-point lead at 11-8. Another two challenges went their way at 11-9 and soon it was evident that Coach Zdenek Pommer`s team were in control of the 3rd set (16-11). However, his opposite number Zoran Terzic rallied his troops and they fought back to level at 20-20. It went point for point through the twenties but in the end the Serbians were victorious 25-23, with top scorer Boskovic getting 22 of their 75 points.
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