NEVZA Day three: Sweden are double champions!
28th October 2018
Main image: Phil Gibbin Photography.
A brilliant weekend of volleyball was capped off at the National Volleyball Centre as the NEVZA U19 Championships came to a close.
It was double delight for Sweden as they were crowned the men’s and women’s champions. Both the finals were fought between Norway and Sweden.
The women’s final was a brilliant battle that went the distance. Norway won the first set but the Swedes hit back in the next to level it 25-23. Norway then took the initiative in the fourth and ran away with it, winning it 25-14.
Sweden never gave up on it and showed their steel to keep their championship dream alive. In the fourth, they won it 25-20 to force a decider.
Sweden looked buoyed and gained the upper hand, keeping any Norwegian fightback at bay. They close the set out with an ace to win the set 15-11 and the title of women’s Under 19 NEVZA champions.
In the men’s final, Sweden took control from the outset. They settled quicker into the match quickly opening a 3-0 lead. They continued to pull away and raced to the first set 25-14. The Swedes were relentless and kept the momentum in the second set. Rapidly establishing a cushion at 6-1 up.
Norway did fight back to level at 9-9 but that seemed to inspire Sweden to go back more aggressively. They took a run of points to take it to 20-14 and Norway would only get three more as their neighbour won the second 25-16 to double their advantage.
It was difficult to see a way back for Norway, but they battled hard at the start of the third set and found their best volleyball. For the first time, Sweden looked on the back foot and Norway had renewed vigour, winning the third set 25-20.
The dynamic of the final had completely shifted as Norway were matching Sweden and believing they could turn the match around. Norway were leading in the middle of the fourth set 16-11 and it was a very tight contest. When it came to the business end of the set, it was locked back at 20-20 as Sweden came firing back. Norway had two set points to force it to a decider but Sweden defended them both.
When it went to the two points required stage, Sweden smelled victory and took the chance at the first opportunity. When Norway could only put the ball into the net it gave Sweden a 27-25 set win and the NEVZA U19 Championship Men’s title.
England miss out on bronze
England finished fourth as both the men’s and women’s teams missed out on a medal, losing in the bronze medal matches to Denmark.
The England women made a good contest of it. After losing the opening set 25-21, they really upped their level. Matching the Danes in the early part of the second set, Team England hit their peak in the middle part of the second set and levelled the match when they won it 25-19.
Denmark too control of the third set and started to force the issue. They took the lead in the match when they captured the second set 25-15. The Danes were relentless in their pursuit for victory and didn’t let up at all in the fourth. They were aggressive in their play and won the final set in style 25-14.
England can be proud of taking a set off a good team as the Danes quality had to be admired.
For the men, Darren Lewis had his team right up for their bronze medal match. Team England came out firing and established control in the first set. They kicked on to reach 23-19 and though the Danes tried their best to come back England were in the ascendency and claimed the opening set 25-21.
The second set saw Denmark open a little points gap early one which they maintained in a nip and tuck set to peg England straight back, winning 25-22 and levelling the match. The third set would prove crucial and England gained the upper hand leading the set until it edged towards the business end. Denmark levelled at 18-18 and found that little something extra to win the set 25-23. It was such a tight affair.
It was a similar story in the fourth as England outplayed Denmark in the middle of the set but when it reached the business end, the Danes found their mental toughness and resilience to play their best volleyball. A series of points went unanswered as Denmark finished with a flourish closing out the final set 25-21 and earning themselves the bronze medal.
5th and 6th place
As with all the finals games, the men’s and women’s were draws were the same, with the Faroe Islands and Iceland battling it out for 5th.
Iceland women recorded a comprehensive victory, beating the Faroe ladies (14-25, 19-25, 22-25).
There was a reversal in the men’s game as the Faroes down the Iceland (16-25, 23-25, 25-23, 19-25) men to finish 5th.