Two tie-break matches were contested on Friday at d’Coque in Luxembourg City where the Grand
Duchy’s ‘Red Lions’ and Austria needed five sets each to edge Lithuania and the Republic of Moldova respectively on the opening day of a first-round qualifier (Pool 2) for the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men. The competition is set to continue on Saturday with Luxembourg playing Austria after Lithuania and Moldova will open the programme vying for their first victory in the competition.
Luxembourg vs. Lithuania 3-2 (25-23, 25-13, 20-25, 24-26, 15-10)
The second match of the opening day at d’Coque also lasted for five sets, turning into a very exciting race. Luxembourg seemed to feel the pressure in the early stages of the game and Lithuania used this as an opportunity to claim a four-point lead (10-6, 14-10). However, captain Gilles Braas (pictured) and his teammates fought their way back levelling the score at 21-all before showing nerves of steel in the deciding ‘money time’, eventually cashing the opening set 25-23.
Lithuania looked kind of shocked after losing the opening set this way and made many unforced errors in the second stanza of the match. On the other hand, everything went just easy for Luxembourg as the home guys had got rid of any pressure and after claiming a 20-9 lead, they cruised to a commanding 25-13 set win.
It was still a way too early to celebrate as the course of the match changed completely in the third set. Luxembourg looked over-confident and this resulted in many mistakes, especially at serving. After trailing 7-8 at the first technical time-out, Luxembourg lost control of the game and Lithuania jumped to a 16-10 lead at the second mandatory break. The hosts did not find any way to respond to this positive streak by their opponents and despite a late comeback, Lithuania secured their first set win at 25-20.
The fourth set was a close race from start to end, with Lithuania leading most of the time (8-6, 16-15) before Luxembourg edged ahead at 21-19. Both teams played with a lot of courage, with Kamil Rychlicki standing out for the home side. Luxembourg did miss out on a match ball at 24-23 and Lithuania flipped the charts around to stretch the match to the tie-break following their 26-24 set win.
However, Lithuania seemed to run out of fuel after this comeback whilst Luxembourg played very well in all aspects of the match, with long and exciting rallies entertaining the 400 fans in attendance at d’Coque. Rychlicki paved the way towards an early 5-1 lead and after stretching it to 10-5, Luxembourg finished it all off at 15-10.
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