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2024 FIVB Challenger Cup

Czechia earns debut VNL spot after winning FIVB Women’s Challenger Cup


Czechia overcame a rough showing in the third set to fend off Puerto Rico in four sets, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 25-18, and dominated the 2024 FIVB Women’s Challenger Cup on Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila.

With this victory, the European Golden League runners-up secured a spot in the 2025 Volleyball Nations League (VNL).

This marks Czechia’s first appearance in the VNL. The team came close in 2019 but lost to Canada in the Challenger Cup final.

“Now, we have to celebrate today’s success. We will see about the future. This tournament represents another level,” said Czechia head coach Ioannis Athanasopoulos.

“In this tournament, we were the better team and deserved to win. I want to congratulate the team, the coaching staff, and the federation for all they have provided,” he added.

FIVB-Challenger-2024-Czechia-vs.-Puerto-Rico-Gabriela-Orvosova-6884 Czechia earns debut VNL spot after winning FIVB Women's Challenger Cup 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup News Volleyball  - philippine sports newsGabriela Orvosova left everything on the court, scoring a game-high 25 points with 23 attacks and two blocks in the decisive victory. Team captain Michaela Mlejnkova contributed 18 points and 14 excellent digs.

Helena Havelkova added 12 points from nine attacks and three kill blocks, while Magdalena Jehlarova chipped in with 11 points, including eight attacks and three blocks.

Katerina Valkova provided 12 excellent sets to guide the offense, while Veronika Dostalova recorded 13 excellent digs and 10 excellent receptions.

After narrowly winning the first two sets, Czechia faced challenges in the third set from 18-year-old Grace Lopez, who scored eight crucial points to help Puerto Rico extend the match to a fourth set.

“Yeah, we took a stricter approach during the break. The girls needed to stay composed because they were working more on their blocking and hitting strategies,” said Athanasopoulos.

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“We analyzed what we needed to improve, and we proved that we were the better team. The girls executed well, and we finished strong in the fourth set,” he added.FIVB-Challenger-2024-Czechia-vs.-Puerto-Rico-Grace-Lopez-7060 Czechia earns debut VNL spot after winning FIVB Women's Challenger Cup 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

In the fourth set, the Czech team focused on containing Lopez, limiting her to just four points as they built a commanding 20-13 lead from which the Puerto Ricans could not recover.

Lopez led Puerto Rico with 23 points, while Paola Santiago and Stephanie Rivera contributed 18 and 12 points, respectively, in the defeat.

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