Lima, Peru, June 29, 2019 – The Czech Republic and Canada won their semifinal matches against Argentina and Croatia respectively, to clash in the 2019 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Challenger Cup final on Sunday. The winner of the Volleyball Challenger Cup earns a place in the 2020 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Czech Republic edged Argentina 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-23), while Canada also swept Croatia 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 26-24) in Saturday’s semifinals at Manuel Bonilla Coliseum in Lima.
2019 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup – Finals schedule (all times local)
Sunday, June 30
3rd -4th 16:00 Czech Republic vs. Argentina
1st -2nd 19:00 Canada vs. Croatia
European Golden League champions Czech Republic edged Argentina with a sizeable 12-5 blocking advantage, but not before suffering the loss of one of their leading scorers Andrea Kossanyiova, who was injured in set three (ankle sprain) after falling from a block.
The Czech Republic balanced their offence between leading attacker Gabriela Orvosova with 14 points, Andrea Kossonyiova and Michaela Mlejnkova contributed with 11 points apiece, along with Veronika Trnkova who tallied 10 points. Erika Mercado topped Argentina with 13 points.
Ioannis Athanasopoulos, head coach of the Czech Republic said his team deserved to be in the final match. “We were the better team, we were very well prepared and our block defence was well-structured.” He also spoke about Andrea Kossonyiova, to whom he dedicated the victory. “I have mixed emotions, I am worried for her and I hope it is not serious, but I am also very glad to battle for the VNL.”
Really disappointed, Hernán Ferraro head coach Argentina said: “We should choose better attacking options, today our reception was really bad, contrary to our previous matches and we failed in serves in crucial moments, it was not necessary to hand out so many points.”
Canada sweep Croatia in semifinals
Despite Croatia’s serving ability (8-1 margin), Canada won the semifinal match scoring on 26 opponent errors while committing 13 on their side. Once again, Alexa Gray led Canada with 17 points, joined by Kiera Van Ryk with 10. Samanta Fabris was the only player on Croatia’s side with double-figures, scoring 17 points.
Tom Black, Canada’s head coach said they just fought strong because for him it was an ugly match: “Our serve-receive was not there, we were able to pick up our serving a little bit, our defence tightened up; still I am proud we found a way.”
“The mental part of the game is missing for Croatia,” was head coach Daniel Santarelli's opinion. “My team is young, with many ups and downs; I am sure we will work harder to commit fewer errors and improve,” he added.