The Czech Republic and Slovakia will host the finals of the U18 ECH this year. Over the weekend we've had the qualifiers and the complete list of participants.
Greece, Turkey, Italy, Belarus, Bulgaria, Russia, and Belgium qualified as group winners, whereas France and Germany advanced as best runner-ups. Despite the straight-set defeat to Bulgaria, France got the best points ratio (beating both the Netherlands and Sweden 3-0) among the runner-ups. Germany were lucky to have won a set at home versus the strong Belgians and thus qualified actually as the best second-placed team overall.
It might seem weird at first that Serbia and Poland, two brilliant volleyball schools, won't make it to the finals. However, they seem to have weaker teams in that generation. Serbia were a bit unlucky during this gen's inaugural U17 ECH last year in Turkey and now, although a bit surprisingly, lost 0-3 to Belarus in Romania. Still, Belarus is no weak team, having finished 6th (above Serbia) at the tournament in Turkey. Poland, on the other side, failed to qualify for the finals last year and did the same this year. Belgium knocked them out in 2017 in a qualifier played in Belgium, the hosts Russia prevailed this time versus the Poles. I haven't had the chance to watch this Polish team, maybe they are really unlucky with the qualifying draws and that could be a reason for the missed finals.