Azerbaijan causes sensation beating Serbia to qualify to 2014 Women’s World Champs
2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Women
Baku, Azerbaijan, January 5, 2014. The home heroines of Azerbaijan caused a sensation on Sunday in Baku as they finished the World Champs qualifier – Pool J with a third straight victory after edging the bronze medalists from the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix, Serbia. The hosts came back twice from one set down to cruise past at the tie-break (19-25, 25-18, 18-25, 25-16, and 18-16) to qualify to the Final Round of the 2014 FIVB World Champs slated for late September/early October in Italy.
Azerbaijan and Serbia had easily routed Estonia and Israel on Friday and Saturday going for the final showdown with an immaculate record of six points and no sets lost. So their fate was to be determined by this game where the home players mentored by Faig Garayev started out strong (8:5) before Serbia responded by drawing level at 11. Serbia gradually got control of the operations (13:17) and did not miss their chance to claim the opening set (19-25).
Things changed completely in the second set where the hosts dictated the pace of the game all the way through the final 25-18. However, Serbia fought their way back in the third going up 4:11 and even though the home heroines fought bravely to come back into the game, they could not prevent their opponents from seizing the set at 18-25.
Azerbaijan found back their best play in the fourth set opening with an 8-2 run and did not look back anymore (10:5), making it 18:10 after the second technical time-out to pave the way for the final 25-16 and call for the tie-break.
The fifth set was a real drama with the score even at 6 all before Serbia moved up by two points after teams changed sides of the court (7:9). They even had a four-point lead (8:12) but could not capitalize on this as Azerbaijan scored three in a row to reduce their gap to a minimum (11:12). Azerbaijan got match point at 14:13, Serbia survived to this, before Azerbaijan could start the home party (18-16) after qualifying to this year’s World Championship.
In the other match of the day Israel beat Estonia in straight sets (25-21, 25-20, and 25-18) in a game that did not have any influence on the chase for that much desired ticket to the Worlds.
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