Uralochka needs three sets to book CEV Cup semifinal spot
2014 CEV Volleyball Cup – Women
Bucuresti, Romania, February 12, 2014. Uralochka-NTMK EKATERINBURG needed only three sets to claim a spot in the semis of the 2014 CEV Volleyball Cup – Women and after leading 2:1, the players mentored by legendary head coach Nikolay Karpol relaxed a bit before they eventually lost the return game of the Challenge Round to the hosts of Dinamo Romprest BUCURESTI (20-25, 26-24, 25-22, 21-25, and 13-15). In the semis Uralochka will play the winners of the clash starring Germany’s DRESDNER SC and Ukraine’s Khimik YUZHNY.
Shortly before the start of the game the Romanian fans paid their tribute to Nikolay Karpol, one of the most decorated volleyball coaches of all time, who is still active at 75 years of age.
The score was very close in the first set before Uralochka broke away shortly after the first technical time-out powered by their spikers Yumilka Ruiz and Viktoria Chaplina. However, the local heroines responded with an excellent performance by the Bulgarian duo composed of Mariya Karakasheva and Tsvetelina Zarkova thereby leading the way (16:14) at the second mandatory stop. The score was leveled once more at 18 all and starting from that moment the hosts could mobilize all of their energy to bring it home at 25-20.
Dinamo showed excellent actions also in the opening of the second set (5:2, 8:5) with Ioana Baciu killing a few spikes. Uralochka slowly but surely fought their way back after Karpol decided to opt for middle-blocker Valeriya Safonova who scored three points shortly after joining the actions. This way the guests from Russia flipped the charts around already at the second technical time-out (14:16); both teams showed their excellent blocking skills down the final stretch but in the end Chaplina scored the last points to make it 26-24 for Uralochka and restore the balance in sets.
Uralochka showed that same tempo also in the third set where they set the pace 8:5 at the first technical time-out. Dinamo reduced their gap to a minimum (7:8) with the contribution of Diana Nenova and Olga Ativi but the hosts were clearly feeling the pressure for – after losing in straight sets last week in Russia – they could not concede any other set to their opponents or their dream to make the semis would have vanished. Uralochka was up 16:15 as the second mandatory stop was called and the Russian players showed their formidable skills – especially in blocking – to cruise to the final 25-22 and book their ticket to the semis.
Uralochka set the pace of the game also in the fourth set (8:5, 16:12) with Safonova, Chaplina, and youngster Irina Smirnova looking simply unstoppable for the Romanian block and defense. Karpol nevertheless had to stop the game by the score of 18:16 for his players had evidently relaxed and were showing a lack of focus and determination. The local heroines exploited this opportunity to claw back and making the most out of their opponents’ errors, Dinamo eventually called for the tie-break (25-21).
The last set was very close at the beginning with Dinamo’s offense well orchestrated by their new setter Daniela Minca; the score stood at 8:7 for Dinamo as teams changed sides of the court and even though Uralochka showed their determination to fight up to the end, Dinamo’s efforts were eventually paid off with a tie-break victory (15-13). Ioana Baciu top scored in the end with 21 points with Olga Ativi (Tocko) adding another 17 to the count of Dinamo. Irina Zaryazhko registered 21 for Uralochka, while Safonova and Chaplina chipped in with 17 apiece.
“It is always difficult to play a strong team like Uralochka” commented Dinamo General Manager Marian Stefan. “We did our best tonight and it is a pity that we could not capitalize on that chance we had in the second set. However, it was a good experience for our players and a good way to end our European campaign this year.”
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