Odintsovo, Russia, February 25, 2014. Zarechie ODINTSOVO ended up celebrating with a home victory after its first leg of the semifinal encounter with ASPTT MULHOUSE in the 2014 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Women. In this roller-coaster match the Russian side managed to overcome the tough opponent from France after five sets of playtime by a final score of 3:2 (25-18, 23-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-7).
The Zarechie team featured Vera Serebryanikova instead of the injured Ekaterina Pankova. In the beginning of the first set the visiting squad played very well, with a minimum number of errors. After two successful blocks the French took a 7-3 lead, but up to the second technical time-out everything changed. American player Kristy Jaeckel made several attacking mistakes in a row, a spike from Bulgarian Petya Tsekova was closed by the single block of Irina Fetisova, and Odintsovo’s team went ahead by a decent margin - 16-11. MULHOUSE managed to minimize the gap to 15-16, but then great performance of Iuliia Merkulova on the block did not allow the French attackers to develop their success – 19-15. The ending of the first set was greatly played by Natalia Malykh and Anastasia Bavykina – 25-18.
In the beginning of the second set the host team was in the leading role – 5-0. But now the comeback was mastered by the French team. Zarechie began to make mistakes, and its rival immediately took advantage of this. MULHOUSE dominated the rest of the set shooting up to a 20-16 advantage and closing the set at 25-23.
In the third set, Merkulova managed to earn two points with her serving at the right moment – 22-16, after which Zarechie widened the gap for the eventual 25-17. In the fourth set the number of errors of the host team increased and as a consequence it lost it by 22-25.
Zarechie started the tie-breaker confidently and managed an early 4-1 lead, which prompted a time-out request from ASPTT head coach Magali Magail. The French team narrowed the gap to only a point at 3-4, but Malykh’s powerful attacks restored the Russians’ advantage – 8-4. The visiting players were at a loss, and after their attacks were blocked twice by the home girls, their hope of a victory practically disappeared – 6-11. The team from Odintsovo made its finishing spurt to quickly bring the match to a successful ending – 15-7.
Natalia Malykh and Kristy Jaeckel made 22 points each, for Zarechie and ASPTT respectively, to become the top scorers of the game.
“Ekaterina Pankova got injured in the match against Dinamo KAZAN, so today she played only a few minutes. Vera Serebryanikova played well as a setter, although there were some errors when she was passing,” commented Zarechie head coach Vadim Pankov. “We do not have enough stability during the match - the psychological stability that the young players need after losing a ball. They get frustrated and immediately commit a series of mistakes.”
“In general I am satisfied with the result - we were able to bring the match to the tie-breaker. I think in the home match we can play better,” added his ASPTT counterpart Magali Magail.
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