Azerbaijan pockets pass for European Championship with fifth win
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women
Baku, Azerbaijan, September 15, 2012. As they cruised to a fifth consecutive win in their group, this time by downing Austria in straight sets (25-11, 25-16, and 25-12) the local heroines of Azerbaijan could celebrate their qualification for the final round of the 2013 European Championship scheduled for next September in Germany and Switzerland.
Belarus cemented their second place in the group by edging Finland 3:1 (26-24, 25-19, 23-25, and 27-25) and will have another chance to qualify for the European Champs via the third and last round scheduled for May 2013.
Azerbaijan rapidly set the tone of the game with Austria going up 8:1 in the first set; the home heroines eventually cruised to the provisional 13:6 and 16:7, before sealing the set with the impressive score of 25-11. The second set followed a similar scenario (4:1, 16:7) with the home side pocketing it at 25-16. Nothing changed in set 3 that was wrapped up even faster (25-12) and Azerbaijan could celebrate their qualification for the European Championship.
The match starring Belarus and Finland turned into an interesting clash right from the early phases of the first set. Finland started out well going up 8:6 and 14:7 and enjoyed a margin of sic by the second technical time-out. However, Belarus fought back to -1 (21:20) before Finland got to the front by three points (23:20). Belarus leveled at 23 and eventually wrapped it up at 26-24. Belarus set the tone in set going up 8:5 but Finland clawed back for the 11 all; still Belarus could assert their supremacy (16:12, 21:14) and go for the provisional 2:0 (25-19).
Finland opened with a splendid 6:1 break in set 3 and maintained control of the operations (8:6, 13:9) stretching their margin to six points (20:14); even though Belarus fought back to 24:22, it was Finland that this time pocketed the set (25-23). The score remained very close in set 4 but Belarus eventually claimed a margin of two that was maintained almost all the way through before Finland leveled at 23. However, in the deciding final rush Belarus had the upper hand (27-25) and could celebrate a 3:1 win.
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