The ‘Red Lions’ of Luxembourg completed a clean sweep of their matches to claim a second straight title in the final stage of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men Small Countries Division (SCD).
Luxembourg and Northern Ireland opened the programme of the last competition day in Reykjavik with the match resulting in a compelling victory for the ‘Red Lions’ (25-21, 25-14, 25-14).
Luxembourg mixed up their starting six from the earlier games for this match. Northern Ireland made a good effort in the first set, but it was not enough and the first set ended in a 25-21 win for Luxembourg.
In the second set, Luxembourg delivered a superb performance with Northern Ireland not having any solutions to stop them. The third set developed similarly to the second one and Luxembourg finished it off 25-14, therefore securing the gold medal.
Dieter Scholl, coach of Luxembourg, was happy with the result and the gold medal. “I am pleased I was able to play with the second team and this decision paid dividends,” he said.
Steve Weber was the top scorer for Team Luxembourg with 14 points and Jeffrey Scott and Graeme Currie scored seven points each for Northern Ireland.
The second match of the day was for the silver and was between Cyprus and Iceland with the silver medals eventually going to Cyprus after a 3-1 win (25-22, 25-16, 25-27, 25-11).
The first set was relatively even but towards the end, Cyprus edged ahead and finished it 25-22. The Icelandic team had a slow start to the second set, thus giving Cyprus an early lead and the hosts were never able to make up for their deficit.
The third set was very even from the beginning to the end, with the teams exchanging the lead back and forth. It finished 27-25 to Iceland after some exciting final minutes. It looked as though the Icelandic team had given up in the fourth set with an easy win for Cyprus (25-11) sealing a 3-1 victory for the team from the Mediterranean island.
Evangelos Koutouleas, coach of Cyprus, commented: “It was not easy to motivate my players after yesterday’s heavy loss against Luxembourg, especially after being considered the favourite team for the gold. Next on the agenda for us is the World Championship qualification in the Czech Republic where we hope to win at least two matches.”
Rogerio Ponticelli, coach of the Icelandic team was a bit sad after the loss, but at the same time happy with the third place. “I am excited for the World Championship qualification in France later this month. It will be a great experience for my players going up against some of the best teams in the world.”
Vladimir Knezevic was the top scorer of the Cyprus team with 16 points and Theódór Óskar Thorvaldsson paced Iceland with nine.
4. Northern Ireland
Outside Hitter: Kamil Rychlicki (LUX)
Outside Hitter: Vladimir Knezevic (CYP)
Middle Blocker: Angelos Alexiou (CYP)
Middle Blocker: Kristján Valdimarsson (ISL)
Opposite Hitter: Arnaud Maroldt (LUX)
Setter: Gilles Braas (LUX)
Libero: Antonis Antoniou (CYP)
MVP: Chris Zuidberg (LUX)
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