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21/01/2014 00:58
Getting to know: CL top scorer Olesia Rykhliuk
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Zurich, Switzerland, January 20, 2014. Though this is only her first appearance in the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League, Ukrainian-born and Volero opposite Olesia Rykhliuk did immediately leave her mark on Europe’s elite competition. She is currently topping the charts of the best scorers with 170 points, a terrific tally whereby she stands well above the likes of other Volleyball stars such as Ekaterina Gamova or Nataliya Obmochaeva.
“I started playing Volleyball at a very young age, by the time I was only seven years old. So this means I did not try out any other sport than Volleyball” Rykhliuk recalls.

Last week she scored 21 points to set the pace for Volero as Switzerland’s multiple champions edged RebecchiNMeccanica PIACENZA in the first round of the Playoffs 12. “I do not know if the Italians were our preferred opponents for the Playoffs 12” Rykhliuk says with reference to a statement made by Volero President Stav Jacobi. “All of the teams who made the Playoffs are very good and likely to turn into a very tough opponent. In the end, if you want to progress to the next stage of this competition, you have to win against any opponent you may be drawn to play.”

After a difficult start of the season and the departure of their former mentor Jan De Brandt, Volero got back on track, making it through the prelims and now is on the verge of qualifying to the Playoffs 6. “I think this is the result of our hard work” Rykhliuk explains. “Apart from this, the ambiance in the group is just excellent and we get along with each other very well. On top of this, I have to stress that our coach, Dragutin Baltic, brings a lot of positive energy to our environment.”

Rykhliuk is by far the top scorer of this year’s CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women with 170 points so far, much more than those scored by the likes of Gamova, her countrywoman Nataliya Obmochaeva or Madelaynne Montano. “Of course I always want to show a good performance but my main concern is that the team of Volero is successful. The focus is always on the results of our team, not really on individual performances.”

The 26-year old Rykhliuk is making her first appearance in the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League, an experience she would like to share: “I think that this is the toughest and most competitive league in the world. Just as an example, this competition also features the likes of VakifBank ISTANBUL, i.e. the team that won gold at last year’s FIVB Club World Championship here in Zurich. Therefore I am very proud to be participating in this competition and of course it makes me really happy to be the top scorer so far.”

She moved to Zurich for the 2013/2014 season after spending a few years in Korea. “That country offered me the possibility to collect many experiences. The Korean league did also have a very positive impact on my play and my skills. Of course, I had to adjust to a totally different culture and mentality but, at the same time, I could get to know many interesting people. As for Volero, this is definitely a top team where some excellent players could already showcase their skills and achieve good results. I am very proud to be a member of this group.”

Even though Rykhliuk’s home country, the Ukraine, has a long tradition in Volleyball that dates back to the days of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine’s national teams haven’t been that successful in recent times. Olesia did not compete for the Ukraine at the World Champs qualifier held some two weeks ago in Ankara where the team ended up in third place, thereby missing on a spot for the Final Round. “We have a strong and good Volleyball school there in the Ukraine. We start by supporting young talents who may afterwards embark on a professional career in the sport, so that one day they can turn into world-class players. However, there is a lack of financial resources at the moment which prevents a development of our national league and also the set-up of a successful and competitive national team.”

As for the goals she has set for her first season with Volero, the 196 cm tall Rykhliuk says: “I hope we will achieve the maximum and I am ready to give my best to fulfil the goals that we have set as a team.”

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