A golden end to Spain’s march
Spain clinched the title at the European Junior Water Polo Championships in Volos (GRE) after a great win over Russia in the final. Italy landed the bronze medal by beating the Netherlands.
1. Spain, 2. Russia, 3. Italy, 4. Netherlands, 5. Greece, 6. Serbia, 7. Slovakia, 8. France, 9. Hungary, 10. Israel, 11. Germany, 12. Great Britain, 13. Turkey, 14. Romania, 15. Bulgaria, 16. Czech Republic
Spain enjoyed a brilliant summer run in water polo. Both their senior teams made the finals at the World Championships and the juniors achieved the same – though this time the outcome differed: after three silver medals (two in Gwangju and one by the boys in Tbilisi) this time the girls clinched gold in Volos.
Spain managed to beat Russia 12-11 in a thrilling a final, a much closer game compared to the one they had played in the prelims which the Spanish had claimed with ease (15-8). Though in the title bout the Spaniards also dominated for most of the time, led 8-4 at halftime and 10-5 at one point in the third period before the Russians started coming back. With 5:15 to go, Spain was still 12-8 up but Russia had a late surge and with 26 seconds to go they came as close as a single goal but their rivals kept the ball the bagged the gold medal.
Spain’s toughest encounter came in the semi-final against the Netherlands. They led 5-2 in the third but the Dutch managed to equalise in the fourth for 6-6 only to see Spain netting the last two goals and booking its spot in the final.
On the contrary, Russia’s path was marked by thrillers. In the quarters they ousted host Greece in a memorable match they won 14-13 at the end. Next came Italy in the semis, another tense clash where the Russians prevailed with a 14-12 victory. Italy led 11-10 in the fourth but three straight Russian goals in 2:03 minutes turned the game and there was no way back for the Italians who could get some consolation in the bronze medal game where they won 9-6 against the Netherlands.
Shock of the tournament occurred in the crossover games where Hungary lost to Slovakia – a first-ever in the history of women water polo – thus failed to reach the best eight. Serbia’s development was also spectacular, this 6th place is their best in the history of any major female competition.