The annual Novotel Cup started on January 1 at d’Coque in Luxembourg City with the home heroes celebrating a terrific 3:1 win in their home debut with Denmark. The gold medallists from last year’s Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) and from the Small Countries Division of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship came back from one set down to stamp a 3:1 win (21-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18) over a team including players with experience from the CEV Volleyball European League and other international competitions.
As many as 900 fans attended Luxembourg’s home debut and the hosts displayed a very solid performance to make amends for the 2:3 loss they had suffered to the Danes last year in the 2015 edition of the annual Novotel Cup. It was a close race in the opening set up to 18 all but in the end Denmark had the upper hand pocketing it by the score of 21-25. However, Luxembourg stepped up their efforts in the seconds set and Denmark, on the other hand, seemed to lose momentum. Even though Danish mentor Mikael Trolle tried to turn the tide by changing setter, Luxembourg imposed their rule and easily swept set 3 and 4 for a well-deserved 3:1 victory.
In the other match of the opening day, Switzerland edged Iceland with a 3:1 win (26-24, 23-25, 25-17, 25-11).
In the women’s competition, the home heroines of Luxembourg opened their campaign playing Denmark as well. The start of the match was quite promising for the home side, with Luxembourg leading the way by 8:5 and 16:11 at the first and second technical time-outs. However, the Danes – who had arrived in Luxembourg only a few hours before their debut in the tournament – slowly but surely found their way into the match, levelled the score at 18 all and after that did not slow their pace down anymore. 500 fans in attendance enjoyed a thrilling finish of the opening set where the teams exchanged the lead back and forth before Denmark eventually wrapped it up at 28-26. The shock was too much to stand for the young players of Luxembourg who lost the second set by a landslide 11-25. The ‘Lionesses’ got back on track in the third stanza where they put in a real fight but in the end had to accept a 22-25 set loss to their opponents.
Earlier on Friday Iceland had cruised to a commanding 3:0 victory (25-22, 25-20, 25-18) in their opening matchup with Liechtenstein.
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