Estonian women's volleyball team lose European champs opening game

Estonia's women's national volleyball team went down 3:0 at home to France in their opening 2023 Women's European Volleyball Championship Group D clash in Tallinn Wednesday.

The score line by periods was 25:8, 25:19, 25:21, though the Estonians remain buoyant about the remaining group games at the Unibet Arena, formerly the Saku Suurhall.

Corner forward Kristiine Miilen said that while it was nerve-wracking playing before a home crowd, "Actually, it was cool when the lights went out before the game started, and the commotion began, then the nerves faded away, though I think that some people's hands were definitely shaking here."

Group D consists of Finland, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Spain, in addition to Estonia and France, while all the games will be played at the Unibet Arena in Tallinn.

France won the European Gold League and had just qualified for the World League by winning the FIVB Volleyball Women's Challenger Cup, while they finished seventh at the last Euros.

The last time the two teams faced off, in 2018, Estonia was victorious, 3:2.

The Estonian women this time had, however, been hit hard by a stomach bug outbreak among some players

The team's head coach, Italian national Alessandro Orefice, said that: "We will come back, step by step, from this virus and regain our energy. I believe that everything happens for a reason and maybe this virus in a way helped the players to de-stress," adding that pre-game training had gone well earlier in the week.

Of the result, Millen said there was nothing to be ashamed of after playing such a strong opponent, and looked forward to the next group games.

"I think it was good that France was out of the way, because usually the first games are fragile, especially when playing here at home. Now we have two days and we know what awaits us," she said.

France took a 16:4 lead in the opening game and held that until the end. In the second game, Estonia played much better and took the lead 8:5, only for France to take things to 10:9. While for a lengthy period of time the Estonians remained just one or two points behind, the French soon moved ahead, to take the second game 25:19.

The third game started with Estonia dictating the pace, but the 5:2 initial success soon evaporated into a one-point deficit, at 9:10. 

While Estonia was then able to get out of the slump and take the lead again at 13:11. An even tit-for-tat exchange followed, but ultimately, France proved more confident, and won 25:21, thus taking the match 3:0.

Kertu Laak scored highest for Estonia, with 10 points.

The team will play next on Saturday, against Finland.

The latter face Slovakia today, Thursday, while the Netherlands play Spain today also.

The competition runs to September 3.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: ERR Sport

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