On Tuesday, the Estonian men's national volleyball team's chances of advancing in the EuroVolley preliminary round dropped even further after enduring a 2:3 (25:20, 25:22, 18:25, 24:26, 9:15) loss against Croatia.
Croatia took a 6:3 lead in the opening game, but Estonia scored four consecutive points to take a 7:6 lead. While the game was still tied at 8:8, Estonia took a lead and held it to take the first game 25:20.
Estonia got off to a great start in the second game and took a 10:4 lead, but Croatia tied the game at 11. From there, the game went by competitively, but Estonia was able to close the game out and take it 25:22 and only needed one more game victory to take the match.
Croatia responded in the third game and got off to a lead, which they did not give up until the end of the period, winning their first game of the match 25:18.
The fourth game was a tight and competitive one, in which neither team was able to pick up momentum. Estonia held a 23:22 lead, but still lost 24:26.
Tied at two apiece, Croatia took leads of 4:1, 10:4 in the deciding game and eventually took the game 15:9, completing a comeback from 0:2 down.
Estonian national team opposite Renee Teppan said the Croatians made one tactical move, which changed the course of the game. "The only one they could have made: brought in a new opposite. We collapsed as a team at some point. Everything - I can't say we did not compete until the end, but we lost our nerve at one point. Croatia did their thing from start to finish. It was nothing special, but it was enough," Teppan said.
He analyzed the collapse: "We have these characters in the team... I don't know, they get mad, different things. The team suffers from it, unfortunately. I am not trying to blame anyone, I am the same way. It feels [bad]. I don't know what to say," Teppan said.
Estonia is looking at a tough road if they are to advance in the preliminary round. The team is last in their pool and are yet to face Olympic champion France, who is the group leader. The four best teams from the pool will advance to the final round.
Pool D standings:
1. France (9 points; 3W-0L)
2. Germany (9 points, 3W-1L)
3. Croatia (4 points, 2W-2L)
4. Latvia (3 points, 1W-3L)
5. Slovakia (3 points, 2W-3L)
6. Estonia (3 points, 1W-3L)
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste