Ljubljana, July 3, 2019 – Belarus and Slovenia emerged victorious on the opening day of the 2019 FIVB Men’s Challenger Cup beating Egypt and Chile, respectively in their bid for a ticket to the 2020 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Slovenia celebrated a convincing victory over Chile 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-19). The hosts dominated on court in every element. It was the first official game for new head coach of Slovenia, Alberto Giuliani. His players did their best to not disappoint him and their fans. They outserved (8 aces) and successfully blocked Chile (7 to 2), even if the Chileans only  dropped 27 points through errors.

Tine Urnaut contributed with 12 points for Slovenia and his teammate Toncek Stern with 10. However, the top scorer of the game was Vicente Parraguirre, but his 13 points were not enough for Chile.

“The first match is never easy, in the first game between Egypt and Belarus, we saw many mistakes especially in the beginning of the game. And on the other hand we started very well, calm and comfortable and I’m happy for this. I want to use this match and the next ones to improve the level of our game, because we haven’t had many opportunities to play,” said coach Giuliani.

Tine Urnaut added: “I’m happy that we opened this tournament with a good game and important win for us. Now this match is finished, so we are focusing on our next opponent – Turkey. We haven’t played for a long time as it’s also the season opener for us. We felt very good on court today, but we still need to grow and to improve.”

Chile coach Daniel Nejamkin, commended on the game of his opponents: “They outplayed us in every aspect of the game. Slovenia were better in all elements – service, block and attack. We knew already before the tournament that we were the team with the least international experience of all the teams here. Slovenia and Turkey are definitely stronger teams, but tomorrow we’ll give our best so we can continue with the tournament.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the fans at Arena Stozice witnessed a fierce five-set battle between Egypt and Belarus. Eventually, Belarus emerged victorious in the opening match of the 2019 FIVB Men’s Challenger Cup 3-2 (21-25, 25-16, 20-25, 26-24, 15-9). Led by Viktar Beksha, they bounced back after being down 1-2. Belarus served their opponents 12 aces and were more efficient in attack scoring 59 points.

Radzivon Miskevich was the top scorer of the game with 27 points to his name, and his teammate Pavel Kuklinski tallied 24 points. On the other side of the net, Ewais Hisham scored 18 points.

“It’s n unique experience for us to play against teams from another continent. It’s very interesting for us, because we only competed against European teams so far and here we have a maiden opportunity to face teams from all over the world. We started this game very badly, because we also didn’t have too many opportunities to train here, so we had to get used to the venue. But later we showed our game and we won and this is an extremely important win for us,” Miskevich admitted.

Viktar Beksha praised his players for their efficient work in block-defence: “It wasn’t our best game, because we made many mistakes. Our reception didn’t work well especially at the beginning of the match. I’m happy that we won this tough five-setter. Our system in block-defense worked well, we were able to defend many balls and then do a counter-attack scoring points and that were a key to this victory.”

Egypt coach Gido Vermeulen was obviously disappointed: “I think we could have won the fourth set and my team were very disappointed after losing this part, so in the fifth set they didn˙t fight any more. And I don’t like that at all. We have to fight for the win, but after losing the fourth set we lost our energy.”

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