Slovenia win another EuroVolley silver

The Slovenian men's national volleyball team won another silver at the European Championship after losing the final match to Serbia 1:3 in Paris on Sunday.

Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

After making an improbable run in the home arena in Ljubljana, beating the European champions Russia and world champions Poland in the process, Slovenia had to concede to Serbia even though they won the first set.

It was a complete turnaround for Serbia, who eliminated the home team France in the semi-finals in an epic battle which lasted five sets, and then beat Slovenia for their third gold at the European championships, coming after the wins in 2001 and 2011.

For Slovenia this is meanwhile the second silver medal on the European stage, coming after the second place at the championship played in Italy and Bulgaria 2015, when the Slovenians had to concede to France in the finals.

This time, Slovenia was powered to the finals by the home crowd who came in thousands to Stožice Arena to cheer for the home team as it made its was from Group C and to the finals past Bulgaria, Russia and Poland in the elimination matches.

Slovenia defeat Poland in the semifinal of thew EuroVolley. Photo: Anže Malovrh

Captain Tine Urnaut was a bit disappointed after the loss, telling reporters that the team had wanted to win badly but admitting that the Serbs played better, especially on defence.

He was nevertheless happy with the experience, saying that Slovenia were actually proud of winning another silver, pointing to the Slovenian crowd who came to France and saying it was "something phenomenal".

"Great thanks to them for supporting us in Slovenia, through all the matches, for coming here in Paris and I'm sorry that we haven't managed to come in first today," added the 31-year-old veteran.

Big crowd in Ljubljana welcomes national sport heroes

Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Several thousand sport fans gathered in Ljubljana's Congress Square this evening to welcome Slovenia's athletes who had made headlines over the past weeks, including the national volleyball team, which won silver at the EuroVolley in Paris on Sunday.

The crowd also welcomed world champions in kayak and canoe Eva Terčelj and Nejc Žnidarčič, as well as Luka Božič, who secured bronze at the Canoe Slalom World Championships in Spain.

The other focus was on bicycle riders, chiefly Vuelta winner Primož Roglič and third-placed Tadej Pogačar.

"Thank you Ljubljana, thank you Slovenia. You're the best fans in the world. You proved it at Stožice Arena and in Paris. Every one of you deserves a silver medal," said setter Dejan Vinčić in reference to Slovenian fans cheering endlessly for their volleyball team at the European Championship.

"On the wings of your cheering we defeated the European and world champions, said captain Tine Urnaut.

If the final between Slovenia and Serbia had been played at Ljubljana's Stožice rather than in Paris, "I'm sure we would be celebrating gold now", he said.

Equally happy with Slovenian fans' cheering were Roglič and Pogačar. Roglič thanked all who had came to Congress Square, saying "I didn't expect so many people to turn up, I feel some butterflies in my belly."

"You're incredible.... This is the best award for all our efforts. Every athlete wishes to get such a magnificent reception at least once in their lifetime," he said.

Source: STA