Rotterdam, Netherlands, August 27, 2017 – With the two teams qualifying for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship already decided, the last remaining question at the European qualification tournament in Rotterdam was which team would occupy the top step on the podium.
Hosts Netherlands were quick to provide the answer with their fifth consecutive straight-set win, this time against their main rivals Bulgaria, to finish the tournament with a perfect record of 15-0 sets.
This was the third and final round of CEV qualifications for Japan 2018. It ran in a single round-robin format from August 22 through 27 at the Topsport Centrum in Rotterdam. After its completion, winners the Netherlands and runners-up Bulgaria joined previously qualified Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Italy, Azerbaijan and Germany in the European contingent for the World Championship from September 29 through October 20, 2018.
Sunday’s first match was supposed to be the icing on the cake, as neither the Netherlands nor Bulgaria had lost any matches so far in the tournament. The Dutch had more arguments in the battle to stay unbeaten and maintained their impeccable record with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-23) shutout of the Balkan Lionesses.
The Netherlands’ Robin De Kruijf and Bulgaria’s Elitsa Vasileva shared the top scorer honours with 13 points each. Yvon Belien and Lonneke Sloetjes added 10 each to the winning team’s tally.
"I am very proud of the whole group - the team, but also our great staff,” said Jamie Morrison, coach of the Netherlands. “We worked hard all summer and that is the result right now. The start was not great in May, but here we showed we absolutely belong at the World Championship. This tastes even better on the eve of the European Championship, where we want to play a dominant role."
Belgium had lost their last shot at qualifying the day before, but made sure they finished the tournament with a victory – 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-12) against bottom-placed Greece – earning third place in the final standings.
Belgium’s Laura Heyrman, Charlotte Leys and Britt Herbots were the only ones who reached double digits in the match, as they scored 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Greece’s Anthi Vasilantonaki finished with nine.
In the last match of the tournament, the Czech Republic did not waste much time either. The Czechs claimed a 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-20) victory over Slovenia to end fourth in the table.
Aneta Havlickova was the best scorer of the match with 16 points for the Czech Republic. Her teammate Michaela Mlejnikova added another 11. Iza Mlakar’s eight points put her on top of the Slovenian chart.
For more details on this qualification tournament, including results, statistics and photos, visit the CEV’s official website.