The group stage and up to and including the semi-finals of the European Men’s Volleyball Championship were played in Slovenia. In Group C we got off to a good start and smoothly beat the Belarusians, Finns and Turks. Worse matches follow, where we surprisingly lose to Macedonia and Russia. Still, that was enough points to qualify for the elimination fights. In the round of 16 the Bulgarians fell 3: 1 and the Russians with the same result.
The last match in Ljubljana was the semi-final against Poland. Of course, it was a unique opportunity to see our boys in the fight for medals. So many other citizens thought so too, and the tickets went out early. The last package of 2500 tickets was sold in less than 2 minutes. The ticket hunt begins with co-workers. After various attempts, Borut obtains 3 tickets, but not all of them are in the group, but they were on side behind the service line. But for us at the time, these were valued as VIP tickets.
We met before the match, there was already general cheering in tents around the hall. There we met a bunch of familiar people. We were in the hall at 20:30, where the atmosphere was fantastic. In the first set, the Poles run away from us for most of the set, but we persevered and at the end of the set we lead and win 25:23. The second set was exactly the opposite, where our team led until the end and the Poles squeezed in the end and won 26:24. The third set was won by our team, except at the beginning of the set, they were in the lead all the time and won with 25:22. The fourth, decisive set served up a bit more drama where the two teams took turns in the lead, but in the end our boys were better and won 25:23 and took the national team to the European Championship finals for the second time. It didn’t help the Poles to naturalize Cuban player Wilfred Leon, who was good on serve and attack but was bad on reception. The absence of Gregor Ropert due to appendicitis surgery was not fatal for us either.
Stožice were full, the fans were engaged throughout the match (about 2 hours) and the result was top notch. In the breaks between sets we ran for a drink, once they even gave me a broken glass. The vocal cords also suffered from a lot of cheering. After the game we went on to celebrate, first at Gregor’s home and ending at Shooters. In the Paris final, unfortunately, the boys could not do without the home crowd and it was necessary to concede victory to the Serbs (1: 3).