The penultimate day of water polo in Sibenik gave us our two finalists – Russia and Greece. The former defeated Hungary by two goals, while Greece bettered Italy by the same margin.
As a result, Italy have the opportunity to retain their bronze medal from two years ago, but they face stiff opposition in the form of Hungary – who have finished 3rd place three times in the history of this competition.
Elsewhere, the day saw victories for Spain, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Malta and Great Britain.
Greece 9-7 Italy (2-3, 3-1, 1-3, 3-0)
A last quarter onslaught from Greece sees them book their tickets to the final of the Women’s European Junior Championships.
The Italians were leading by a single goal going into the last quarter, but three unanswered conversions by Stefania Santa, Sofia Tournarou and Effrosyni Tsimara sent Greece to their first final since they won the competition in 2013.
The 2008 champions, Italy, who won the Bronze medal in 2019, will have an opportunity to match their result from Volos, but they will face tough opposition in the form of Hungary in the 3rd-4th place match.
Hungary 9-11 Russia (4-5, 1-1, 2-3, 2-2)
Russia have booked their place in consecutive Women’s European Junior Championship’s after beating Hungary in a thrilling semi-final. Hungary took the lead early in the game thanks to Jonkl Csenge, but two goals from Daria Bunkova as well as scores from Savchenko, Koptseva and Savisko gave the Russians a one-goal lead after quarter one.
Hungary would never take the lead again as Russia kept a two-goal cushion for much of the game and even enjoyed a four-goal buffer in the third quarter.
Tekla Aubeli and Nora Golopencza netted twice in the last quarter to bring Hungary back within two, but Marton Benczur’s side couldn’t find a way past a very well-organised Russian side.
Mikhail Nakoryakov’s Russian girls will now look to go one better than they did two years ago in Volos, as they seek to win a record fifth women’s junior title.
Croatia 7- 9 Spain (2-3, 1-2, 1-2, 3-2)
A last quarter resurgence spurred on by a spirited home crowd was not enough for Croatia to overcome a strong Spanish side – who will battle the Netherlands tomorrow for 5th place. Jelena Butic netted thrice, but her hat-trick was matched by Spain’s young Olympian, Elena Ruiz.
The Croatian Water Polo Federation has held a wonderfully organised tournament this week which has been matched by the performances of their side in the pool. To only lose by two goals to one of the best female sides in Europe, as well as having the chance to finish in the top eight, is a huge achievement for a nation where women’s water polo has not got the same grounding as the men.
Israel 6-13 Netherlands (1-4, 2-5, 2-3, 1-1)
The Netherlands benefitted from having one of the tournament’s top goal-scorers on their side as their very own Lola Moolhuijzen scored four times in the match to defeat a solid Israeli side. Feline Isolda Voordouw outscored her teammate in the game, netting five times. For Israel, it is a disappointing result given how well they have played this week, but they faced two of Europe’s big hitters in their last two games so cannot be too dissatisfied with the outcomes. Israel will have the chance to battle for 7th tomorrow against the hosts, Croatia while the Dutch will take on Spain in the 5th-6th game.
Czech Republic 5-9 Ukraine (1-1, 1-2, 3-4, 0-2)
Ukraine’s captain, Kateryna Babak, lead her side to a 13th place finish with a fine individual performance. She found the back of the net fives times, holding her nerve twice from the penalty line to secure a decent finish for the Ukrainians. The Czech’s will be disappointed but will take comfort that their young Iva Drnkova was one of the tournament’s top players.
Malta 10-9 Bulgaria (3-0, 2-3, 3-3, 2-3)
It was all smiles and dancing for the Maltese as they claim 15th place after holding out for the win over Bulgaria. Malta took a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, but Bulgaria pushed Anthony Farrugia’s side all the way. Kaia Agius netted four times for the winning side, but Bulgaria’s Ivet Dimitrova was the games top goal-scorer with six goals.
Romania 10-19 Great Britain (2-4, 1-6, 4-5, 3-4)
Great Britain ended their disappointing week in Sibenik on a high with an authoritative victory over Romania. Holly Toone and Grace Turner each bagged well-earned hat-tricks, while there were braces from Silk, Fountain, Ellis-Keeler, Helliwell, Griffiths and Motley.
13th – Ukraine
14th – Czech Republic
15th – Malta
16th – Bulgaria
17th – Great Britain
18th – Romania
19th – Turkey
10:30 – Slovakia vs Serbia – 11th-12th Place Match
12:00 – Germany vs France – 9th-10th Place Match
16:30 – Israel vs Croatia – 7th-8th Place Match
18:00 – Netherlands vs Spain – 5th-6th Place Match
19:30 – Hungary vs Italy – Bronze-Medal Match
21:00 – Russia vs Greece – Gold Medal Match
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