The final stage of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men Small Countries Division (SCD) started on Friday in Reykjavik with pre-favourite Cyprus and Luxembourg rallying to comprehensive 3-0 and 3-1 victories over Northern Ireland and hosts Iceland, respectively. Cyprus and Luxembourg will lock horns on Saturday in a matchup, which is most likely to determine the eventual winners of the competition.
Team Cyprus was a way too strong for Northern Ireland and comfortably sailed to a 3-0 victory (25-15, 25-15, 25-13). All three sets were almost identical, with the score at the first technical time-out always standing at 8-4 to Cyprus. After the break, Cyprus kept on going making it hard for their opponents to catch up.
Evangelos Koutouleas, Cyprus coach, commented: “The main difference between the teams in today’s match was in service and reception. I was able to rotate the team well today, giving the players some rest for possibly harder games, which are to come this weekend.”
Gerrard Ford, the coach of Northern Ireland, was not happy with his team at the end of the match: “We are a way better than what my players showed in today’s mach. I am still optimistic for the games to come and we are determined to deliver a totally different performance in Saturday’s game with Iceland.”
Achilleas Petrakidis and Gabriel Georgiou were the top scorers for Team Cyprus with nine points apiece; Patrick Crooks and Graeme Currie scored seven points each for Northern Ireland.
The second match of the day was between Iceland and Luxembourg, with the ‘Red Lions’ from Luxembourg emerging victorious 3-1 (25-15, 25-19, 22-25, 25-12).
Luxembourg showed a great game in the two first sets, whilst the Icelanders could not do much to stop them. The Icelandic team stepped up their efforts in the third set, although Luxembourg did not make it any easier for them. Luxembourg were far better than their opponents in the fourth set, thus sealing their 3-1 victory with strong serves from Chris Zuidberg who scored four aces towards the end of the set.
Dieter Scholl, the coach of Luxembourg, commented: “We did not expect the first two sets to be as easy as they were. I expected the match to be more like the third set. I am optimistic for the rest of the tournament, especially after such a convincing win over Iceland.”
Hafsteinn Valdimarsson, captain of the Icelandic team: “The team was kind of asleep during the first two sets. We could not follow our game plan and made many silly mistakes. For the rest of the tournament, we will focus on being more stable, keeping the bad plays shorter and the good ones longer.”
Tim Laevaert scored the most points for Luxembourg with 16, and Kristján Valdimarsson was the top scorer of the Icelandic team with 10.
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