Azerbaijan makes it 6 wins in a row with no sets lost
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women
Baku, Azerbaijan, September 16, 2012. With the final standings of the group already fixed on Saturday, the ladies of Azerbaijan completed their clean sweep in Pool C by edging Belarus in straight sets (31-29, 25-20, and 25-20) and finish the second round qualifier without conceding any set to their opponents. Belarus finished second in the group to have a last chance to qualify for the European Championship in May 2013. In the other match of the day, Finland cruised past Austria after a real marathon (3:2; 25-16, 20-25, 18-25, 33-31, and 15-5).
Having already booked their pass for the final round, the home heroines still wanted to finish their campaign with a positive result; they started out strong (8;6 10:7) before Belarus was able to draw level at 13 and even went to the front by the second technical time-out (13:16). After that Azerbaijan scored four points in a row to claim back the lead (17:14) and with their star Natalya Mammadova on fire, the home side cruised to the provisional 22:18. Still Belarus flipped the charts around once more (22:23) and after a series of turnarounds, the ladies coached by Faig Garayev could seal the final 31-29.
The second set saw Azerbaijan claim a first break (8:6) before Belarus leveled at 10; the local favorites got up 16:13 but their opponents fought back to 18 all, before the winners of the group accelerated the pace and wrapped it up at 25-20.
Azerbaijan stamped a massive 8:1 in set 3 and maintained a comfortable margin also halfway through the set (11:6, 17:10), going for the final 25-20 that sealed a splendid campaign in this European qualifier.
In the other match of the day Finland comfortably claimed the opening set (25-16) after setting the pace all the way through (8:3, 13:5, 16:10). Austria responded in the second set where the score remained close before Finland lost control of the operations and their opponents could seal the final 25-20. Inspired by this successful final rush Austria played with great confidence also in set 3 going up 8:6 and 17:13 to pocket it at 25-18. Austria dictated the tempo also in set 4 (8:6, 14:9) but Finland reacted right by the end of the set, seizing it with the incredible score of 33-31. After that, the Finns clearly dominated the tie-break (8:2) where the Austrians looked exhausted and had to accept a 3:2 defeat (15-5).
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