Dresden, Germany, September 7, 2013. For the first time in history, Belarus won a match at CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women. The team of head coach Viktar Hancharou overcame Azerbaijan 3:1 (25-23, 25-20, 17-25, 25-23). In Pool C’s second match of the day, Russia overpowered a strong Croatian team 3:1 (25-21, 26-24, 23-25, 25-22) as well.
On the second competition day in Pool C, Belarus beat Azerbaijan 3:1 (25-23, 25-20, 17-25, 25-23). It was an important win for Belarus as they increased their chances of making the Playoffs. Almost 2.000 fans cheered for their heroines at EnergieVerbund Arena and saw Belarus pulling through. With a 0:2 win-loss record, Azerbaijan will need a triumph on Sunday versus Russia to keep their hopes alive for the second round.
Azerbaijan started with full force into the first set what seemed to be a compensation for the weak performance of Friday’s match with Croatia. Natalya Mammadova finally led her team in the usual way with four attack and two block winners and with a more solid passing game compared to the first game. However, it was not good enough. Despite of an 11-4 Azeri lead, Belarus bounced back bravely and won the first set after 28 minutes 25-23.
In the second set both teams showed a thrilling neck-to-neck race wherein Belarus kept a small lead thanks to a better offense. Azerbaijan leveled the match at 15-15, but could not pull through. Belarus missed their first set ball at 24-19, but Tatsiana Markevich closed it out for Belarus with a blistering winner through Azerbaijan’s defence.
Two sets down, Azerbaijan began the third set with strong will. The Azeri were suddenly superior in passing compared to Belarus’ receivers. Odina Aliyeva and Natalya Mammadova helped their teammates with powerful spikes at the net. The players from Belarus tried to give the match new impulses with a double substitution at 10-17. However, Azerbaijan’s players were not impressed at all and won the set 25-17.
Natalya Mammadova contributed two great points for Azerbaijan early in the fourth set and libero Natavan Gasimova helped her team gaining a three-point lead at the first technical time-out. The break did not help Azerbaijan as Belarus came back to 16-16. Two fantastic quick attacks of Anzhelika Barysevich and a strong fighting spirit showed by Belarus moved them forward to 24-21. Azerbaijan saved two match balls, before the Belarusian block stopped Natalya Mammadova to close it out 3:1 in Belarus’ favor.
Azerbaijan assistant coach Aleksandr Chervyakov: „I had to straighten up my team especially mentally after the disappointing start of the tournament yesterday. We played better than in the first match against Croatia but it was not good enough. The team of Belarus proved too strong.”
Azerbaijan captain Natalya Mammadova: „I’m very disappointed. We all tried hard and gave our currently best possible performance. At the end, it was a win or lose situation for us and our risky game was unfortunately without success. We will try to give our best to achieve the sensation with a win against Russia.”
Belarus head coach Viktar Hancharou: „It was a special game for us as this is the first win for Belarus in a final round of European Championship. Therefore, I would like to thank my whole team. The team of Azerbaijan was a strong opponent. I think the comeback in the first set gave us a mental advantage.”
Belarus captain Volha Palcheuskaya: „ The match was very close and thrilling and for sure an interesting game for the audience. We fought hard for every single point. We had problems with the block in the third set, but found good solutions again in the fourth set.”
More than 2.000 fans see Russia’s exciting 3:1 win over Croatia
Thank you Russia! Thank you Croatia! Standing-ovations and applause accompanied Russia and Croatia on their way out of the arena after their high-class match in Pool C. 2.350 fans saw a hard-fought 3:1 (25-21, 26-24, 23-25, 25-22) Russian win over Croatia. The Russian team had to play without their first setter Anna Matienko who was replaced by team captain Ekaterina Pankova due to a broken finger. Nevertheless, the Russians kept the upper hand against a strong Croatian team.
The first set ran quite equally. After a one-hand block of Anastasia Shlyakhovaya, Russia led 8-6 at the first technical time-out. The neck-to-neck race continued with Russian opposite Nataliya Obmochaeva and Croatian opposite Sanja Popovic leading their teams to a 16-15 Russian advantage at the second technical break. Russia was dominant at the net while Croatia displayed a better game in reception. After a Croatian fault, Russia closed out the first set in their favor (25-21).
Even though Croatia saved two set balls at the end of the second set, Russia kept the upper hand in tonight’s top duel of Pool C. Croatian wing-spiker Mia Jerkov tried her best to stop the Russian run, but despite Croatia’s solid game at the net and in defence, powerhouse Russia displayed their mental strength in the deciding moments of the second set.
However, Croatia never gave up. In the third set, the Croatians led 10-6. At the second technical time-out, they were five points ahead with opposite Sanja Popovic on fire. Russia came closer at 21-22, but Croatian setter Ana Grbac, with a well-timed second hand tip, led her side to a deserved 25-23 set win.
It was still a hard battle in the fourth set. Croatia led 16-14 in the middle of the set, before Russia’s wing-spiker Tatiana Kosheleva turned the tables with blistering winners from the left to make it 23-22 for Russia. The Russians stayed focused and never looked back until 25-22 and a hard-fought 3:1 win over a robust Croatian team.
The Preliminary Phase of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women is split into four pools of four teams with the top three from each pool advancing to the next competition stage. The first ranked teams of each pool are directly qualified for the quarterfinals, while the second and third ranked teams will fight for the last four quarterfinal tickets.
Russia head coach Yuriy Marichev: "That was a match on a high level with two equivalent teams. Each set was hard-fought and the result could have been the other way around too. The Croatian players displayed very variable attacks. I’m very happy that we won against a strong opponent.”
Russia captain Ekaterina Pankova: "The atmosphere in the arena was great. The very good defense of Croatia caused us some problems in a game with many long rallies. Croatia was also tactically well prepared.”
Croatia head coach Igor Lovrinov: “The Russian team is used to play more matches on this high level than my team. This could have been the decisive factor in the match today – and the physical advantage of the Russians as well. I’m very satisfied with the performance of my team – not with the result of course.”
Croatia captain Sanja Popovic: „We gave everything we could, but at the end we unfortunately weren’t rewarded for our great performance.”
For the first time in history, 130 countries with all five continents involved cover the Women's EuroVolley.
CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women
Records of the last five editions
2011 in Italy/Serbia: Serbia (gold), Germany (silver), Turkey (bronze)
CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women
2009 in Poland: Italy (gold), the Netherlands (silver), Poland (bronze)
2007 in Belgium/Luxembourg: Italy (gold), Serbia (silver), Russia (bronze)
2005 in Croatia: Poland (gold), Italy (silver), Russia (bronze)
2003 in Turkey: Poland (gold), Turkey (silver), Germany (bronze)
All-time medal table
1. Russia (17 gold / 4 silver / 3 bronze), 2. Poland (2/4/5), 3. Germany (2/5/3), 4. Italy (2/2/2), 5. The Czech Republic (1/4/4), 6. The Netherlands (1/2/1), 7. Bulgaria (1/0/2), 8. Serbia (1/1/1), 9. Croatia (0/3/0), 10. Hungary (0/1/3), 11. Turkey (0/1/1), 12. Romania (0/0/1). 12. Ukraine (0/0/1).
World Ranking – Women (participating teams)
4. Italy, 6. Russia, 7. Serbia, 9. Germany, 11. Turkey, 13. Poland, 18. The Netherlands, 22. The Czech Republic, 31. Croatia, 31. Bulgaria, 36. Azerbaijan, 39. Belgium, 39. Belarus, 42. Spain, 42. France, 109. Switzerland.
For further information visit the official website or click here for a detailed match schedule of the prelims.