A first-round qualifier for the 2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship started on Friday at d’Coque in Luxembourg City with hosts Luxembourg and Iceland cruising to compelling 3-0 victories over Northern Ireland and Scotland, respectively. The tournament also coincides with the qualifying stage for the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Small Countries Division. On Saturday Iceland and Luxembourg will cross their ways playing for the leadership in the pool following the matchup starring Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Iceland vs. Scotland 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-17)
The Icelandic ladies coached by Italian-born Daniele Capriotti claimed a speedy 3-0 victory over Scotland in their debut. Scotland could keep the pace of their opponents only in the opening set; however, Iceland stepped up their efforts after the second technical time-out and playing with a lot of confidence they put more and more pressure on their opponent, closing the set out 25-21.
Iceland played even better in the second and third sets; in the second they claimed 8-2 and 16-7 leads at the first and second technical time-outs before finishing it off with a compelling 25-14 victory. The third set followed the same plot with the ladies from Iceland combining strong blocks with their effective defence to cruise to a 25-17 win. Scotland’s middle blocker Catherine Smy and her teammates were never quite able to pose a real threat to the Icelandic team.
Luxembourg vs. Northern Ireland 3-0 (25-18, 25-11, 25-7)
Later in the evening hosts Luxembourg easily claimed their match with Northern Ireland. The match was preceded by a small ceremony honouring home star Betty Hoffmann who a few weeks ago played her fiftieth match with Luxembourg national team at the first-round European Championship qualifier in Estonia. The visitors could keep the pace of the home side only in the early stages by means of their rather unconventional game.
Luxembourg coach Detlev Schönberg commented: “We made a way too many mistakes at the beginning of the first set where we should have played a lot better. However, we finally claimed a three-point victory as expected and we can now prepare to play Iceland, a team which performs at a much higher level. This will be a completely different game.”
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