Serbia recovered from two sets down to reach the quarter-finals of the Men's European Volleyball Championships at the expense of Estonia ©CEV

Serbia, the 2013 bronze medallists, avoided a shock defeat at the hands of Estonia by rallying from two sets down to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Men’s European Volleyball Championships in Busto Arsizio, Italy.

The Serbian side, runners-up at the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) World League event, started sluggishly which allowed the Estonians to take a surprise 2-0 lead.

The pendulum swung back the way of Serbia in the third set, however, as they halved the deficit before they levelled at two-sets all as Estonia began to tire.

They were then able to see out a 21-25, 14-25, 25-8, 25-22, 15-13 victory to reach the last eight, where they will meet France.

“We were not mentally ready to play against Estonia,” Serbia captain Dragan Stankovic, instrumental in his side’s dramatic recovery, said.

“Today we ended up celebrating a victory only thanks to our good luck.

“I am happy that I was able to give my contribution to the team during this very difficult match but if we continue to play in this way I am afraid we will not be able to win a medal.

“We need to recover mentally.”

Slovenia reached the quarter-finals for the first time as they claimed a straight sets win over The Netherlands
Slovenia reached the quarter-finals for the first time as they claimed a straight sets win over The Netherlands ©CEV

Italy, runners-up at the 2013 European Championships, also progressed to the quarter-finals as they comfortably saw off Finland in straight sets.

Buoyed by a decent home crowd inside the Palayamamay venue, the Italians gradually seized control, though the match was tighter than the scoreline suggested as the hosts emerged with a 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 success.

Elsewhere on an action packed day at the event, which saw play-off matches for places in the last eight contested, Slovenia made history by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time thanks to a 25-16, 25-19, 25-22 win in their clash with The Netherlands in Sofia.

The result guarantees a best-ever tournament finish for Slovenia, though they face a tough test if they are to extend their stay at the event as they will take on world champions Poland in their next encounter.

Germany, gold medallists at the inaugural European Games in Baku earlier this year, swept aside Belgium 25-16, 31-29, 25-17 to set up a meeting with hosts co-hosts Bulgaria in the next round.

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