Last weekend the Central European U 17 MEVZA volleyball tournament ended in Zadar, in which eight national teams participated and from which the first-placed team gained the right to directly participate in the European U17 Championships. The other four best-placed national teams go to additional qualifications in the spring.
The Croatian cadets, who have been preparing for this tournament in Zadar since December 26, played in the finals, after being first in Group A with three victories (Israel, Hungary, the Czech Republic) and beating Slovakia in the semifinals. Unfortunately, in the final they lost from Slovenia 2: 3 (25:21, 12:25, 24:26, 25:17, 10:15). After the Croatian national team took a 1-0 lead in sets, the rivals fought back and turned the game in their favor. First, it was 2-1 in sets for Slovenia, and after the Croatian national team tied at 2-2 in the fifth set, the opponents were happier. Croatia opened the fifth set very well, leading 3: 0, and after a minute of rest, Slovenia turned the score around again and took the lead 8: 3. After that, it was more difficult for our cadets to return to the match, which is played up to 15 points.
The selector of the Croatian U17 national team, Miodrag Miki Stojaković, said after the tournament:
“We achieved our primary goal, and that is to be among the best-placed teams that acquire the right to additional qualifications for the European Championship. Unfortunately, we did not win in the finals and thus achieved a direct placement, but Slovenia has been the favorite in this tournament since before the tournament. We played a great game against them, but unfortunately, after 2-2 in sets, we entered the roulette of the fifth set where they had more concentration and luck, which eventually anointed them. A few balls decided in the end. We will look for our chance through an additional round of qualifications. It remains a pity for this defeat, but it should also be said that our girls did a great job in this tournament and showed that we have a very potent team with which we hope to win the European Championship in additional qualifications. “