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07/11/2017 22:53
VakifBank begin title defence with compelling victory in Belarus
2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women

Luxembourg, November 7, 2017. VakifBank ISTANBUL stormed to a comprehensive 3-0 victory in their away matchup with Minchanka MINSK to open the programme of the 3rd Round in the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Women. The gold medal winners from the 2011, 2013 and 2017 editions of Europe’s elite club competition had to work hard for their success – which did not come as easily as the score line may suggest. Rookies Developres SkyRes RZESZOW and Yenisei KRASNOYARSK, as well as 2017 silver medal winners Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO all claimed away victories before the re-matches follow on Saturday to determine the sides progressing to the group stage of the competition.

Minchanka MINSK (BLR) vs. VakifBank ISTANBUL (TUR) 0-3 (17-25, 20-25, 27-29)

VakifBank lived up to their status as the CL titleholders rallied to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Minchanka MINSK.

•    As many as 1,500 fans attended the match in the Belarusian capital, accounting for a record of attendance in Minsk this season.
•    The crowd included many Chinese and Turkish fans as well – supporting VakifBank and their star player Zhu Ting.
•    Nadzeya Smirnova of Minchanka MINSK emerged as the best receiver of the match.
•    Home star Volha Palcheuskaya (pictured below) served as many as 19 times – more than any other player starring in this game did.

Gözde Kirdar, team captain of VakifBank: “Minchanka MINSK have a good team, and their block is especially outstanding. We fought and we eventually won 3-0 – which is a good advantage we can capitalise on at the next game in Turkey.”

Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of VakifBank: “I knew that this match would not be an easy one. Minchanka played extremely well in their matches with Rocheville LE CANNET and we were worried about that. That is our first match in the Champions League this season and we struggled too much in reception. I am nevertheless happy with our victory.”

Aksana Kavalchuk, team captain of Minchanka MINSK: “We are happy with the opportunity to play at home with such a famous opponent. I hope our fans were able to watch an interesting game. Of course, I wanted to make this game last as long as possible but unfortunately we ended up losing in three sets. We will try to do better in Turkey.”

Viktar Hancharou, head coach of Minchanka: “We have been waiting for this match for a while and we caught a good start. We were 8-2 up but at this point VakifBank started serving on Hanna Hryshkevich – who is only 17-year-old and this broke our rhythm. As for the game itself, I liked it, and would like to thank my players, because they played such a great match. I am sorry for the third set where we could not cope with the pressure. Of course, my players did not follow all of my instructions but this is a learning opportunity for us and we will travel to Turkey as motivated as ever.”

Maritza PLOVDIV (BUL) vs. Yenisei KRASNOYARSK (RUS) 2-3 (25-21, 25-18, 22-25, 20-25, 14-16)

•    Maritza PLOVDIV won the first two sets. Then Yenisei KRASNOYARSK managed to come back to win the match in the tiebreaker.
•    Maritza saved the first two match points, but on the third one, Yenisei closed the tiebreaker at 16-14.
•    Yenisey KRASNOYARSK’s captain Mariia Frolova was the best scorer of the match with 22 points.
•    Nasya Dimitrova and Kremena Kamenova shared the honours on Maritza Plovdiv’s side with 21 points each. Maritza outscored Yenisei in the match - 106-105.
•    Nasya Dimitrova and Yenisei’s Ekaterina Efimova tallied five kill blocks each.

Natalia Malykh, player of Yenisei KRASNOYARSK: “This was a wonderful match! Maritza are a very good team. They play fast volleyball and they have a good first tempo and outside spikers. The big hall here made it difficult for us. After losing the first two sets, we managed to be more relaxed and do our work better. We played together as a team. I think at home our fans will help us and the return game will be easier for us.”

Zhana Todorova, player of Maritza PLOVDIV: “We followed all the tactical instructions in the first two sets and we outplayed the opponents. I think the spectators also helped us a lot. After that, our opponents woke up and recovered. They did not let us play. We also made some mistakes of our own, which is normal. I think we lost our spirits a little and stopped fighting. We played as equals and we stand our chances to progress in the competition.”

Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR (SLO) vs. Developres SkyRes RZESZOW (POL) 1-3 (22-25, 25-23, 23-25, 22-25)

Even though Iza Mlakar scored as many as 31 points for the home side, Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR failed to claim their fixture with another CL rookie, Developres SkyRes RZESZOW.

•    Despite a very good start (6-2), Nova KBM Branik failed to capitalise on their early lead in the first set, with RZESZOW edging ahead at 16-15. After a tie at 22, the Polish team scored three points in a row (25-22).
•    RZESZOW claimed an early 8-5 lead in the second set before MARIBOR closed in at 13-14 with three straight points from Mlakar. After another dramatic ‘money time’, the hosts emerged victorious (25-23) with a point scored by Ana Marija Vovk.

•    After an early tie at 6-6, MARIBOR scored six points in a row in set 3 but RZESZOW did not panic, even though they trailed 16-12 at the second technical break. The Polish team made it 22-all and with a little luck, they took the set 25-23.  
•    The two teams fought for each ball in the fourth set but RZESZOW broke away after the first technical time-out (from 8-7 to 15-9). Even though the young players of MARIBOR played with much enthusiasm, and they levelled the score at 22-all once more with the help of Mlakar, the visitors sealed their 3-1 victory at 25-22.

Samo Miklavc, head coach of Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR: “We were close to achieving a good result, but their experience helped RZESZOW towards the victory. We played very well, but we lacked the final touch in some key moments. I am proud of our young team and hopefully we can play just as good also on Saturday in Poland.”

Jelena Blagojević, team captain of Developres SkyRes RZESZOW: “I am happy with our game and with the victory, which provides us with an edge ahead of the re-match in Poland. This gives us an advantage in our quest to progress to the group stage of the Champions League, which would be an extremely good result for this young club. The game was difficult, because the young Maribor team played with their heart and wanted this win badly, but our experience gave us the edge in the end.”

SLIEDRECHT Sport (NED) vs. Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO (ITA) 0-3 (15-25, 23-25, 21-25)

Last year’s silver medal winners Imoco Volley used some of their second lines in the matchup with the reigning Dutch national champions but despite this, the ‘Panthers’ secured a 3-0 victory, which bodes well for the re-match coming up on Saturday in Treviso.

•    Imoco Volley immediately set the tone of the match storming to a compelling 10-3 lead in the opening set; even though the hosts attempted a comeback, the ‘Panthers’ remained focussed and eventually closed the set with an ace from Samantha Bricio.
•    Imoco Volley replaced their starting setter Joanna Wolosz with Athina Papafotiou in the second set – and the match was a lot closer. Carlijn Ghijssen-Jans helped SLIEDRECHT keep the score tight at 23-all but a point by Kimberly Hill and a Dutch error sealed the eventual 25-23 win for the visitors from Italy.

•    Despite an early 8-4 lead for CONEGLIANO, the hosts closed in to make it 10-all and they even edged ahead at 19-18 in the third set. However, Robin de Kruijf restored Imoco’s leadership at 21-20 and veteran Elisa Cella eventually sealed a 3-0 victory for CONEGLIANO.
•    Imoco Volley scored as many as nine aces in the match.

Daniele Santarelli, head coach of Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO: “I think tonight we played our worst match this season so far. We have to work on many things and we need some rest too, because we have been playing every three days and it is not easy to travel, practice and play all the time. I hope we will be playing a completely different match come Saturday in Treviso. We made too many mistakes, especially in the second set. On Saturday I want to finish this round with a victory, but in a different style than we achieved it today.”

Matt van Wezel, head coach of SLIEDRECHT Sport: “I did not have any expectations before this match in terms of result, but more about the level of our performance, and this exceeded my expectations. I think we did well. We started the match by making too many mistakes; maybe we were a bit nervous and showed too much respect towards Imoco. As soon as we relaxed, we started playing better and we did so from half of the first set until the end. As for the final points, they are just smarter and more experienced than we are. You see that they play at a much higher level than us every week, so towards the end of the third set, they scored two points and we missed out on two, so this made the difference in the end. As soon as we took the lead, we focussed more on the result than on executing our tasks, but I cannot blame my players because I think they did a perfect job.”

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