Volleyball teams consisting of finance guards and financial employees representing 11 countries were competing between 13 - 14 November in the Tiszavirág Arena, decorated with national flags in Szolnok. The mixed team event attracted the largest number of teams: a Polish, a Dutch, an Italian, a British, a Finnish, a Czech, an Austrian, a Belgian-German joint team, and the Norwegian and the Hungarian sides entered this event. A mixed team has two female and four male players on field at a time.
In both the ladies and men’s event we had three teams: the Finnish, the Czech and the Hungarian.
The ECSA Volleyball Cup organized by the Pénzügyőr SE (Customs Sports Club of Hungary) ended in a complete success for the Hungarian party, as all three national teams came out on top: the ladies, the men’s and the mixed teams were all awarded gold medals on Saturday, the final day of the tournament.
Scoring was somewhat different from the usual: teams played two 10 minute sessions with each other and that yielded the result with a two-point difference required in each set. Only the finals of the mixed teams were different where the traditional 25 point target was fixed in each set and the match was played a best of three sets format.
Mixed teams were divided into two groups and played twenty matchups altogether from 9.00 until 19.15 on Friday. Group A was won by Hungary with the Polish team coming in second; whereas group B was headed by the Czech and the Austrian teams. The planning and organization required a very precise time-table, as the last match of the day (20 matches in total) was scheduled for 18.45 and it started right on time.
The ladies teams started on Saturday morning and the Hungarian team scored two confident wins, first against Finnish (31:17), and then against the Czech team (32:17), and so they became champions.
The Hungarian men’s team had a tougher job as the field was more even here. They won the first game against Finland (32:30). The second match of the day saw the tired Finnish team losing to the Czech Republic (31:26), and finally Hungary beat the Czech Republic (27:23); therefore, this event gave another Hungarian win.
The mixed team semi-finals started at noon with the match between Hungary and Austria. In terms of playing strength, there was a palpable five point difference with the Hungarian team being stronger, and accordingly, our team was leading by 3-4 points all through the game. Then a few illegal moves and touches came and the score evened out (21:21) which made our players nervous. The team managed to win in the extra time (31:29) and qualified for the finals.
The players of the Czech-Hungarian finals were marching in to the field on the tune of Final Countdown by the band Europe with enthusiastic applause by the audience. Our opponents had a better start, they took a 9:4 lead at one point, and our team managed to catch up with them at 18:18 only. We led for the first time at 23:22. There were some truly exciting plays, saves and smashes. Our players were out fighting for every single point and eventually managed to take the set (25:23) which seemed to be a psychological blow to the Czech team.
Therefore, the second set was less sharp. In the middle of the set, the first league player Dávid Szappanos had a few moments by hitting 4-5 points in a raw, and so the team managed to break away (14:9) and (20:13), and even though there was a minor setback (20:16), the opposing team was becoming tired and they were unable to prevent our side from taking the second set (25:19). Consequently, they won the match with two sets to nil. This was the third gold medal for the Hungarian finance guards.
Coach of all three Hungarian teams, Csaba Weczera – who is the coach of the first league team of PSE as well – underlined that the event saw high-level play and therefore, it was useful in promoting volleyball. Coach Weczera named the most valuable players of the cup, Ms. Eveline Gross from Austria, and Mr. Lukáš Halva from the Czech Republic for their outstanding performance during the whole volleyball event. Secretary of the Hungarian Volleyball Federation, Mr. Zsolt Ludvig attended the opening ceremony of the ECSA volleyball Cup on Friday and conveyed his appreciation to the PSE for the organization, besides explaining that the ECSA Cup is important in promoting volleyball. He called the ECSA Cup exemplary, and mentioned that more tournaments like this are needed to increase the popularity of volleyball in Hungary, and in Europe as volleyball is one of the most watched sports in the world.
During the awarding ceremony the Czech President of ECSA, Mr. Jan Hlinka, the Vice-President, Mr. Andreas Krückeberg, and Vice-President of PSE, Mr. József Nagy were handing over medals and cups. The gala soon turned into an enormous fiesta which was an appropriate and memorable end of the Cup.