Croatia finish the first round at third place with a tie break victory over Germany


Ivana Milos of Croatia attacks through the German block

Rome, Italy, September 28, 2014 - Croatia won their third match in this first round of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 in a long tie break against Germany, winning 3-2 (17-25, 25-23, 9-25, 25-21, 15-11).

The last day of the first round saw Germany and Croatia fighting for the third place in the pool, both seven points in the tournament entering the match. Croatia advances with a 3-2 record and nine points, while Germany moves on to the second round with eight points and 2-3 record.

Key facts

- Croatia are on three wins at this World Championship, overcoming their number of victories from their previous participation (2010) and one victory shy of their only other appearance (4 in 1998)

- Germany lost for the second time in a row for the first time since the 2006 World Championship

- In their only World Championship meeting in 2010, Germany defeated Croatia in straight sets

- Germany collected five blocks in the first set, three of which scored by Christiane Furst

- After scoring its tournament-worst points in a set with nine in the third set, Croatia fired back to win the match.

The top scorer of the match was Maren Brinker with 20 points, immediately followed by her teammate Christine Furst at 19. Croatia had its best scorers well divided between Sanja Popovic (18 points), Maja Poljak and Senna Usic (16 points each).

Germany pushed hard early to a 6-1 lead under Margareta Kozuch’s serve turn. Sanja Popovic spiked for her team’s recovery, but the first technical timeout was at 8-4 for Germany. Croatia paid for some imperfection in setting and Coach Angelo Vercesi called timeout trailing 11-4. Maja Poljak’s teammates weren’t able to change the trend of the set, and the second technical timeout saw their team nine points behind in the score at 16-7. A wonderful rescue from Germany’s libero Lisa Thomsen made the 19th point for her team. The miscommunication between Croatian’s setter and the spiker continued and the set flowed at 22-14 for Germany, when Croatia called the second timeout. Two aces in a row by Senna Usic allowed Croatia to stay close in the set, but Germany closed it at 25-17.

The second set was opened by Christiane Furst’s block and fast spike giving Germany a 4-2 lead. Croatia set the blocking section and Kozuch was stopped in a couple of spikes, and Poljak’s ace tied the score at 6-6. Croatia managed to arrive first at the technical timeout at 8-7 with a winning block over Maren Brinker. Croatia found the right balance and Popovic took her team’s lead to bring it at the second technical timeout leading 16-11. A two point break scored by Germany thanks to a great defense by Thomsen forced Vercesi to call his timeout at 16-13. Three points in a row from Brinker signed the German comeback at 18-16 and finally tied the score at 19-19. Mia Jerkov scored at 23-21 for her team in a very delicate moment for the entire match. Poljak’s block over Heike Beier claimed the set ball for her team and the set ended at 25-23 for Croatia.

Germany started the third set as the first one, with an early lead at 6-1 with the same Kozuch’s serve turn. The gap increased at 9-2 with German block doing its job. The game building was quite difficult for Poljak’s team and the second technical timeout arrived at the overwhelming score of 16-4 for Germany. Vercesi decided to talk on the situation and called a time out at 21-6 but the set ended at 25-9. Germany produced five aces and four blocks in the set.

The fourth set started with Croatia trying to retake the match with Poljak, and it actually stood very close at the beginning in the result at 5-5. Furst’s attacks claimed the German lead at 8-5 and brought the teams to the first tecnhical time out. The referee gave a yellow card to Giovanni Guidetti for objection, and his team let the opponents recover the gap and take the lead with Ivana Milos’ attack. Croatia took more confidence in itself and went to a 14-10 lead. The second technical timeout was again in Croatia’s favor, with three points of advantage at 16-13. Poljak and Popovic were both protagonists of the set, spiking and serving very well. Germany didn’t defend as in the previous sets so Croatia collected four points of advantage at 22-18 and Senna Usic delivered the team to tie break, at 25-21. The second tie break of the round for both teams.

Tie break shows Croatian attaks aimed at the very highest part of German block and to be very focused at blocking itself. Germany seemed disoriented by the previous set’s lost and the provisional score was positive for Croatia at 6-3. Brinker didn’t want to give up and tied the score at 6-6. The switch arrived at 8-7 for Croatia. Popovic scored the 10th point with a beautiful block over Binker. At 11-8 Guidetti called time out, and his team clung to Brinker’s spikes, made a two point break forcing Vercesi to call the time out himself. Popovic’s ace claimed the match ball for Croatia at 14-11, and Poljak maed the last point of the match. 15-11 was the final score.


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