Eleven World Championship qualifiers complete schedule of busy European weekend
|Turkey, who are the bronze medalists from last year's U19 European Championship, will be among the teams set to headline the first round of European qualification leading up to the 2015 edition of the FIVB Women's U20 World Championship|
Some of Europe’s rising volleyball stars will be in action later this week as 21 men’s and 20 women’s teams take the first step in the European qualification process for the 2015 edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 and Women’s U20 World Championships.
The six and five first-round qualifiers coming up in the men’s and women’s competition respectively will mark the return to the international stage of many players who last year left their mark at the Final Rounds of the CEV U19 Women / U20 Men European Championships.
The winners of each qualification tournament plus the second placed team with the best score – only for the women’s competition – will join the gold and silver medalists from last year’s European Championship – Russia and Poland for the U21 Men, Serbia and Slovenia for the U20 Women – for the second and final stage of the qualification process scheduled for May 14-17. There will be two qualification tournaments then, each with four teams, and the eventual winners will qualify to the 2015 FIVB Women’s U20 and Men’s U21 World Championship set to follow later this summer in Cyprus and Mexico, respectively.
Make sure you follow the World Champs qualifiers also on Facebook and Twitter by using the official hashtags #FIVBMensU21 and #FIVBWomensU20!
Italy’s men will try to get back on track after last summer when they were the only team to beat eventual gold medalists Russia at the U20 European Championship, but in the end failed to make the semis of the tournament. Italy will be playing hosts Denmark and the Czech Republic in Gentofte. Slovenia will attempt to confirm their rising power status with a home tournament where they will take on Turkey and Estonia, while Austria have set their sights on upsetting Romania and Serbia in Pool C to make the second stage of the qualification process.
Belgium will have a tough pool in Vilvoorde, where they are hosting the stars in the making from Ukraine, Slovakia and Portugal, while European bronze medalists France are the top favourites in Pool E where they get to test the likes of Hungary, Greece and Latvia. Pool F could be dubbed the ‘group of death’, as it features as many as four volleyball powerhouses: hosts the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria and Croatia. The fight in Zwolle will be tough right from the go as these teams will all want to prove their strength and ability to perform at the highest level.
Another five qualifiers are scheduled in the women’s U20 age group: Italy will use home advantage in Milano to take on the challenge brought by France, Finland and Norway, whereas Turkey look like the most serious contender for the top spot in Pool B taking place in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. Russia will attempt to live up to their status and tradition as they play Germany, Israel and Romania in Bucharest, and Poland will have a couple of hard nuts to crack in Szczyrk, where the national teams of Belgium and the Netherlands are set to travel. Finally, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria will be the headliners in Pool E, which also features the national teams of Austria and Denmark.
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day
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