The Slovenia Times

Slovenia beat Russia to enter Euro volleyball semi-finals


Powered by more than 11,000 fans in the sold-out Stožice Arena, Slovenia avenged the 0:3 loss to Russia in the group stage with an incredible and heroic performance which earned them the medal round in Paris.

The start against the powerful Russia was dream-like, with Slovenia winning the first two sets. They were rather dominant in the second one, allowing the Russians to score 21 points and announcing an improbable win against one of the best teams in the world.

The reigning European champions returned to life in the third set, winning it 25:21, but Slovenia came out of the gates in the fourth set, grabbing a 18:12 lead and never letting Russia to come close.

With the win, Slovenia earned the semi-final match in Stožice Arena on Thursday with Poland, the reigning world champions, who cruised past Germany in yesterday's quarter-finals.

The other semi-finals match-up is to be determined today, with France, the gold medallists from 2015, playing Italy in Nantes.

Slovenia's head coach Alberto Giuliani said it had been an "excellent match", adding that the Russians "were the favourites, but these do not always win. We believed in a win, the lads were phenomenal. They gave their best technically and tactically."

The Italian also praised the fans for creating an "exceptional atmosphere". "The energy was unbelievable, everything was unbelievable. But there is no time to celebrate, we now have to concentrate on the next match."

Slovenian setter Gregor Ropret said that the fans had powered the players to "play a better match than we are probably capable of, probably one of the finest ones in my career and I hope that we can repeat something like this in the semi-finals."

Captain Tine Urnaut said that "everything is possible in front of such audience. We know we are capable of beating anyone."

Regardless of the outcome of Thursday's match in Ljubljana, Slovenia will travel to Paris for the medal round at the weekend and have the chance to win at least bronze to add to the silver in 2015 at the tournament played in Italy and Bulgaria.


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