The Ukrainian team took care of the biggest surprise of the championship so far, hosted by Poland and Slovenia. After the win over the Netherlands, they will try to improve their maximum in Wednesday’s quarter-final again in Ljubljana against the Slovenians, the reigning European vice-champions. The French will fight another battle against Italy.
In June, the Ukrainians were not enough for the Czech volleyball players and lost to them 2:3 in the semi-finals of the European League. However, this time they eliminated the Dutch with the feared all-rounder Nimir Abdel-Aziz and did not let them go past 19 points in any of the three sets. Abdel-Aziz finished on ten points. The Ukrainians performed 12 point blocks, five aces and, led by captain Oleh Plotnycky, were happy to advance after only 68 minutes of play.
“I’m in tears because the victory is so important for our country right now,” Plotnyckyj said, recalling the Russian invasion that began in February. Because of it, the traditional power Russia was excluded from the volleyball championship, it lost its host and was replaced by Ukraine.
“It’s amazing. And the result of our joint work over the past five years. The Netherlands are such a strong team but we played fantastically today. I’m happy that we will play against Slovenia, the spectators are cheering for him wildly and that excites us as well,” added Plotnyckyj.
The defending champions Poland and the Americans are also in the quarterfinals. Serbia – Argentina and Brazil – Iran will compete for the remaining places on Tuesday.
Volleyball World Championship
Round of 16 in Ljubljana
Ukraine – Netherlands 3:0 (16, 19, 18)