The Hungarian men’s volleyball team lost in five sets to the visiting Spanish team in the first round of the European Championship qualifying in Budapest on Wednesday, starting the series with one point.
National Captain Róbert Koch’s team will continue their qualification on Saturday in Tbilisi, Georgia, where the top five finishers will qualify for next autumn’s continental tournament.
The Hungarian team had to play without their captain, Alpár Szabó: the center missed the opening game due to family reasons, and was replaced by Keen Cameron. His teammates put the No. 1 jersey with Szabó’s name on it on the bench as a message to him.
Although Hungary lost to Spain at the recently opened Riz Levente Sports and Events Center, Róbert Koch said:
I cannot remember the last time I saw the boys play like that, it is esspecially positive that we were able to get up after the first set. It shows the mental strength that we have been talking about for a long time.”
According to the coach, the match was decided by the fact that the Spaniards had a longer bench, while the Hungarian team could only substitute one man, Zoltán Kovács, due to injuries. Kovács was a great help to the team with his routine and good solutions.
We made a mistake in the deciding set, that’s part of it, and it decided the match. We have to be more patient with our counter attacks. Our opponent was better in this, but our opening reception was stable throughout and our blocking was outstanding,”
European Championship qualification, Group F, Round 1:
Hungary-Spain 2-3 (-17, 19, 23, -23, -8)
Most successful players: Z. Kovács, K. Horváth 21-21, Blázsovics 16, and Ramón Ferragut 25, Villena 23, Iribarne 16
In the other match in the group: Slovakia-Georgia 3-0 (14, 21, 9)
Featured image: Spain’s Andres Jesus Villena (on the left) and Zoltán Kovács (on the right) during the men’s volleyball European Championship qualifying round 1 match Hungary-Spain in Group F at the Riz Levente Sports and Events Center in Budapest, Hungary, August 3, 2022. Photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI