March 28, 2023

The Czech Republic and Türkiye will meet in the men’s volleyball Challenger Cup semifinals, while Colombia and Puerto Rico will face off in the women’s volleyball Challenger Cup semifinals. The quarterfinal matches took place on Friday in Seoul, Korea, and Zadar, Croatia, respectively.

In Seoul on Saturday, the men’s volleyball Challenger Cup semifinals will begin with Cuba taking on the Czech Republic at 12 local time (3.00 GMT), followed by hosts Korea taking on Türkiye at 15.30 local time. Cuba and the Czech Republic will play each other (6.30 GMT). Belgium and Colombia will begin their semifinal match in Zadar at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT), while the hosts, Croatia, will face Puerto Rico five hours later in a match that will determine the two women’s finalists.

Colombia’s qualification on Friday was undeniably the most exciting to watch out of the four teams that were successful. After taking the first two sets of their match against France, the South Americans came dangerously close to collapsing. However, they were able to stave off two match points from the European side and eventually prevailed in a nail-biting five-set match in Zadar (25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 11-25, 16-14).

Outside hitter Ana Karina Gamboa played a crucial role in Colombia’s victory. Not only did she produce a team-high 22 points for the Colombian squad (including 17 kills, three blocks, and two aces), but she also scored the final two points in the tie-breaker. Lucille Gicquel, a French defender, finished the match with the most points (24). (17 kills, six aces, one block).

Maria Alejandra Marin, who serves as the team’s setter and captain, commented that “the match was really difficult for us,” but that “we fight until the end every single time,” and that “today wouldn’t be different.” Now is the time for us to get some rest and get ready for the semifinals, which will most likely be just as challenging.

Due to difficulties in obtaining their entry visas to Croatia, Cameroon was forced to forfeit their match that was scheduled to take place on Friday, which opened the door for Puerto Rico to advance to the semifinals of the competition. As a result of Cameroon’s late withdrawal from the competition, Puerto Rico was able to take their place.


Schedule of Matches and Results for the Volleyball Challenger Cup

In the first match of the second day of competition in Seoul, Türkiye prevailed over Qatar by a score of 3-1 (25-22, 25-16, 22-25, 25-15). The towering opposite Adis Lagumdzija led all scorers with 25 points (18 kills, five blocks, and two aces), and he was assisted by the outside hitter Burak Gungor, who added 14 (13 kills, one ace), while leading his team to the semifinals of the competition.

According to Arslan Eksi, the captain of the Turkish team and the setter, “I believe the key for us was remaining in the game the entire time.” “Qatar is a really powerful team, and everyone on the squad battled for every ball. We did an outstanding job in the first two sets, and despite the fact that our performance level was a little lower in the third set, we were able to come back in the fourth set and win by a significant margin. In the semifinals, we will play Korea, and I really hope that we can have another good match against them.

Following that match, the Czech Republic defeated Tunisia in four sets (25-16, 17-25, 28-26, 25-16) to claim the final spot in the men’s semifinals and advance to the championship match. In order to lead their offense, the Europeans heavily relied on their trio of opposites Marek Sotola (13 points), Indra Patrik (ten points), and outside hitter Jan Galabov (12 points), but the Tunisian opposite Ali Bongui ended up being the match’s top scorer with 18 points (17 kills, one block).

According to Adam Zajicek, the captain of the Czech team and a middle blocker, “We didn’t know exactly what to expect from Tunisia, and that made the match really difficult for us.” “We were able to get ourselves into a good rhythm to start the match, but we didn’t play nearly as well in the second set. We continued to fight despite the fact that we were feeling mentally and physically exhausted in the final two sets, and we were ultimately successful. Because Cuba is such a physically demanding team, we need to get some rest and get ready for them.

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