In the group stage of the 2022 European Youth Championship, the Ukrainian national team, unfortunately, took only third place in its quartet and stopped participating in the competition. Among the competitors of domestic sportswomen were the current champions and vice-champions of the world in the U-20 age category — Italians and Serbians, respectively. They were the ones who qualified for the playoffs and ultimately reached the finals. In the battle of the titans, Luke Pieragnoli's team turned out to be stronger. Austria closed our tournament table.
The coach of the yellow and blue team Yuliia Yakusheva called three players of SC "Prometey" to the games of the continental championship, which, by the way, were held in Italy: outside hitter Daria Kaplanska and setters Daria Velykokon and Anastasiia Horbachenko.
- Our national team's exit to the main stage of the tournament is a big event both for the team and for all of the Ukrainian volleyball, - said Kaplanska. - Despite the difficult psychological condition associated with the enemy's attack on our native Ukraine, the girls were able to win this ticket to the finals. We thank the leadership of UVF for their support.
Daria joined the youth national team on June 12 — already during the training period of the athletes for the final part of the European Championship, which began in Vinnytsia and ended in Steinbrunn, Austria. From the beginning of the war until the moment of being called up to the national team, she kept in shape, training with her sister Maria Kaplanska in the gym of one of the schools in Odessa.
According to the outside hitter, despite all the troubles, at the Euros they faced a task — to show a quality game and make it to the top four:
- Impressions from the competition are only positive. We gained invaluable experience against Italy and Serbia, and we were lucky enough to play three games with our Austrian peers. In my opinion, we had a good game with the final winners of the tournament and showed everything we are capable of. They have a high and organized block, which played a big role. It was more difficult with the Serbs. Probably, there was a sign of fatigue after the first match.
Daria Kaplanska added that in Austria and Italy, they constantly met friendly people on their way, who greeted them with smiles and the words: "Glory to Ukraine!":
- Everyone expresses support for our people in the fight against the enemy. Therefore, I believe that everything will be Ukraine! A bright volleyball season and a long-awaited major victory in the war against Russia await us. Glory to Ukraine!
Daria Velykokon, who plays for the "red and whites", did not participate in the qualification for Euro-2022. At that time, she helped the national team in the European Golden League. The volleyball player, like her teammate, came to the ranks of the youth national team for the preparatory meeting.
- It is quite difficult to switch between the matches of the youth and national teams because there is a significant difference between them, in particular, other defense and block systems, - Velikokon explained. - Passes for players are also different. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to record certain connections with the attackers. However, there were almost no problems with the speed and height of the pass.
Daria noted that she was in normal playing conditions for the continental championship matches, but there is still a lot to work on:
- After arriving at the youth national team, we immediately started playing six on six, not to mention sparring with Austria. Now I am returning to the national team, where I will continue the training process. I will hone my skills and prepare for the qualifying round of Euro-2023.
For another setter of "Prometey" Anastasiia Horbachenko, it was her debut performance as part of the youth national team of Ukraine.
- The girls in the national team are very friendly, that's why I didn't feel younger than them at all, - admitted Horbachenko. - Perhaps I am still inferior to them in skill, but we are a team! Everyone helped each other to achieve the best result. In general, I received a colossal and invaluable experience. For many years, our national teams did not reach the finals, but we did it together. I am grateful to the coaches for believing in me and allowing me to play for Ukraine in such a difficult time for us. Every practice and every game gave me motivation and confidence for further achievements in my sports life.
Anastasiia is sure that Italy and Serbia deservedly made it to the finals of this year's European Championship draw:
- These teams have a very high level. They are literate, strong, and disciplined, so playing against them was not easy. We made many mistakes, that the opponents did not. Although we lost these matches, each player on our team made the right conclusions to continue growing professionally. Of course, we wanted a better result, but I think that we gave 100% from our side. In other words, we did everything to worthily represent our country at the Euro. Glory to Ukraine!