Baku, Azerbaijan, March 16, 2014. Rabita BAKU claimed the bronze medals of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Women. The Azerbaijani champions shut out Turkey’s Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL by 3:0 (25-21, 25-12, 27-25) in Sunday’s classification match of the home Final Four tournament at the Crystal Hall to find some consolation after their heavy semifinal loss.
Rabita could not hold on to an early 4-1 lead and allowed to opponent to momentarily gain the advantage at 5-6. However, a 4-point run gave the home side another advantage and they did not let it go through the end. Despite Eczacibasi’s better blocking performance, Rabita’s more successful efforts in spiking and serving paid off with a 25-21 at the end of the set. The next one featured total domination of Rabita, blocking and attacking way more efficiently, from the very beginning through the final 25-12, shaped up by Aurea Cruz’s elegant hit off the opponent’s block. The third set was by far the most interesting one in the match. There was a tough battle on the court for every point as Eczacibasi tried to turn things around with more aggressive spiking, but made too many unforced errors. After several changes in the lead, Rabita allowed a 16-12 lead slip away to prompt an exciting over-time ending. The home side did not take advantage of the first two set points, but then finished it all off with a kill block by TeTori Dixon to give a green light to the celebrations.
Katarzyna Ewa Skowronska-Dolata topped the scorers’ chart of the match with 15 points. Teammate Aurea Cruz contributed another 12 to Rabita’s victory, while Neslihan Demir was Eczacibasi’s most prolific player with 11 points.
“It was very tough for both teams as everybody lacked motivation,” Rabita captain Sanja Starovic said. “But we pushed ourselves till the end of the match. Our fans helped us do it. But once again, sorry for yesterday. We could not give them the trophy.”
“We were completely out of motivation,” agreed Eczacibasi counterpart Esra Gumus Kirici. “Although we lost to VakifBank ISTANBUL yesterday we could have shown a good performance at this match, but unfortunately we did not do it at all. I am sorry for this year, but I hope next year we will perform differently.”
“Yesterday we made a better game and did not expect to lose against VakifBank,” head coach Lorenzo Micelli commented. “Today we made some terribly stupid mistakes and this ended up with our loss. Congratulations to the home team!”
The winning team’s mentor Eldar Yusubov stated: “Yesterday after the match I just released the players so that they could recover a little before today. It worked. They played with motivation and fought through the end. I am not very happy because we had been focused on the final, but unfortunately we performed badly yesterday. This was my first Final Four experience, so maybe the third place is not too bad.”
Click here for more details of the match including statistics.
The final match between Russia’s Dinamo KAZAN and Turkey’s VakifBank ISTANBUL is set to start at 19:00 local time (16:00 CET).
All games are streamed live online by LAOLA1.tv.
Live photogallery from the events in the Azerbaijani capital is available here.