The Netherlands will take on Italy and Turkey will challenge Serbia in Friday’s semifinals of the women’s 2021 CEV Volleyball European Championship in Belgrade. Three of these teams won their quarterfinal matches in straight sets. Surprisingly, only reigning world and European champions and hosts Serbia dropped the first set against France. However, they quickly recovered to celebrate both their advancement to the semis and their legendary captain and setter Maja Ognjenovic’s milestone 300th cap with the national team.

The Netherlands were the first team to secure a spot among the last four of the tournament, after claiming a 3-0 (27-25, 25-16, 25-19) victory over Sweden on Tuesday in Plovdiv. EuroVolley’s best scorer so far, Swedish opposite Isabelle Haak (175 points in seven matches), delivered the 18-point match high before she and her teammates had to leave the competition. Nika Daalderop produced 16 points for the Dutch.

Dutch libero Myrthe Schoot in action (source:

Dutch libero Myrthe Schoot in action (source:

Later that evening in Bulgaria’s second city, Turkey outplayed Poland on the way to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-23) win. Young opposite Ebrar Karakurt was the top scorer of the match with a 20-point contribution to her team’s success.

Wednesday’s two quarterfinals were played in Belgrade. In the early match, Italy faced few issues against Russia and mastered an emphatic 3-0 (25-20, 25-8, 25-15) victory to advance to a semifinal encounter with the Netherlands. Paola Egonu was once again the best scorer of the match. Her 15 points upped her tournament tally to 140, where she currently stands third.

France took Serbia and all the home fans at the Stark Area by surprise and shocked their opponents with a well-deserved win in the first set of the last quarterfinal. However, the world champs came back to dominate the rest of the match to celebrate with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-7, 25-20) victory. Tijana Boskovic delivered the match high of 27 points to improve to a tournament total of 156, just below Haak in the EuroVolley ranking. In her 300th game for Serbia, Ognjenovic herself scored seven times – three aces, three spikes and a kill block.

“Actually, I didn’t know that today is the day of my 300th match. It is a big privilege to be a member of the Serbian 300+ club and I think I am the first woman to have reached this mark. It was very emotional when I received the shirt with the number 300, but most of all I am happy about tonight’s victory,” the legendary playmaker said after the game.