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11/11/2017 22:20
Maritza PLOVDIV come from behind to make history
2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women

Luxembourg, November 11, 2017. Bulgaria’s Maritza PLOVDIV came back from two sets down in their re-match with Russia’s Yenisei KRASNOYARSK to sweep three in a row and claim the all-deciding Golden Set as well to secure their spot in the group stage of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Women. The players from Bulgaria’s second-largest city made history on Saturday as they achieved such feat in only their second appearance in Europe’s elite club competition after last season they lost in the second round to eventual bronze medal winners Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL of Turkey. Three more tickets to the pool stage were at stake on Saturday – 2017 gold medal winners VakifBank ISTANBUL and runners-up Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO confirmed their status as heavy favourites of their fixtures with Belarusian and Dutch opposition, respectively. Poland’s Developres SkyRes RZESZOW made history as much as Maritza did earlier in the day, securing their qualification to the pool stage in their first-ever CL participation.

VakifBank ISTANBUL (TUR) vs. Minchanka MINSK (BLR) 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-16)

•    VakifBank’s Lonneke Slöetjes top scored in the match with 14 points.
•    Zhu Ting scored three blocks – but Minchanka did better than VakifBank in this aspect of the game, recording nine stuffs vs. seven.
•    VakifBank’s lead reached 10 points by the score of 23-13 in the third set.

Gözde Kirdar, team captain of VakifBank: “It was not easy in Minsk, so we worked really hard after that match. Our coach expected a better game today, so I am very happy that we made it happen. It is all about confidence and teamwork. We will play better and better, after we get used to each other, especially with the players who joined us this year. I want to congratulate Minchanka because they made an effort and pushed us. I think in the group stage we will perform better. We surely want to win the Champions League again and we want to achieve this goal as much as we want it every season we take part in this competition.”  

Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of VakifBank: “Our team is stronger than Minchanka but MINSK did a terrific job in these two matches. I want to congratulate them. I am happy with the result. However, I am aware that we need to play better. I trust my team, so I am confident that we will perform better in the next games. I would like to thank all our players and our fans.”

Viktar Hancharou, head coach of Minchanka MINSK: “I want to thank my team for their performance, especially for what they did in the first and second sets. VakifBank is one of the top teams in Europe and in the world too. It was very hard for us to play against such an opponent, because we have only Belarusian players in our roster. Both the match in Minsk and this one in Istanbul were good experiences for us. The level of the players of VakifBank is much higher – as a result, they did win both matches. I wish good luck to VakifBank; hopefully they will win the Champions League again.”

Yenisei KRASNOYARSK (RUS) vs. Maritza PLOVDIV (BUL) 2-3 (25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 25-27, 12-15); Golden Set 11-15

•    On Tuesday, when playing in Bulgaria, Yenisei had come back from two sets down to claim a 3-2 away victory.
•    This time around, the opposite happened, with Maritza making up for a 0-2 deficit to win at the tiebreak and go for the all-deciding Golden Set.  
•    Despite trailing at the first technical time-out (7-8), Yenisei controlled the first set almost from start to end (25-20). The hosts did just the same in the second set, where they doubled their lead following a powerful attack by Ksenia Bondar.
•    Maritza responded by taking an early lead in the third set, which they never relinquished.
•    Yenisei trailed for most of the fourth set, before levelling the score at 23-all. However, Maritza emerged victorious 27-25 in the end.
•    Maritza played with more and more confidence, thus completing their comeback in the tiebreak.
•    The team from Plovdiv took also the Golden Set to secure their spot in the group stage of the CEV Volleyball Champions League.

Ivan Petkov, head coach of Maritza PLOVDIV: “As we travelled to Russia, we knew that it would be very difficult for us. Nobody believed in us. After the match in Bulgaria, we understood that it would take a lot of effort to beat Yenisei KRASNOYARSK. Despite the difficulties, we managed to put ourselves together and achieved something, which many thought was impossible. I am very happy.”

Alexander Koshkin, head coach of Yenisei KRANOYARSK: “It is difficult to lose. It is always the coach’s fault. We did our best but did not win.”

Developres SkyRes RZESZOW (POL) vs. Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR (SLO) 3-1 (25-15, 25-20, 20-25, 27-25)

•    Developres SkyRes repeated at home their 3-1 victory from the away match in Maribor.
•    In a matchup featuring two CL rookies, Developres SkyRes secured their spot in the pool stage of the competition – thus following in the footsteps of the highly successful men’s team from their hometown, Asseco Resovia – and they did so after taking a 2-0 lead in the re-match with MARIBOR.
•    Developres SkyRes join Poland’s reigning national champions Chemik POLICE and Grot Budowlani LODZ in the group stage of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Women.
•    Iza Mlakar piled up as many points as she had scored at home – 31 – but to no avail, since Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR lost again 1-3 to their Polish opponent. Hélène Rousseaux scored 16 points for RZESZOW in two sets only.
•    Nova KBM Branik recorded nine aces vs. eight for RZESZOW. The visitors from Slovenia stood out with their defence and reception game, but the hosts scored as many as 53 points in attack.

Hélène Rousseaux, outside hitter of Developres SkyRes RZESZOW: “We are very happy with our qualification to the group stage of the Champions League. It was not an easy match, so we enjoy the victory even more. We were able to play well, attack properly, and because of that, we eventually rallied to another victory. Now we will go back to the national league and we look forward to the matchup with Grot Budowlani LODZ coming up on Wednesday.”  

Agata Sawicka, libero of Developres SkyRes: “We were extremely focused in the first two sets. We knew that we had the qualification in our pocket, so we were a bit more relaxed after leading 2-0. As a result, we lost a little bit our concentration. This can happen and you have to be able to deal with that.”

Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO (ITA) vs. SLIEDRECHT Sport (NED) 3-0 (25-10, 25-12, 25-7)

•    The silver medal winners from the 2017 edition, Imoco Volley easily secured their spot in the group stage of the competition.
•    After claiming a 3-0 victory in the Netherlands on Tuesday, the ‘Panthers’ needed to take two sets from the re-match at home against the young Dutch team – and they comfortably achieved their goal.
•    Despite missing Megan Easy and Samanta Fabris due to injury, Imoco Volley easily won the first set 25-10 with the spikes of Kimberly Hill and two aces from Samantha Bricio.
•    Imoco Volley rallied to a 14-5 lead in the second set and the eventual 25-12 win sealed by Elisa Cella secured their progression to the next round.
•    Imoco Volley completed their mission with a massive 25-7 win in the third set.

Robin de Kruijf, middle blocker of Imoco Volley: “Today we played a good match, and we performed much better than we did last Tuesday in the Netherlands. I would say that today were much readier and more focused on the match. We have achieved our goal, i.e. the qualification to the pool phase, and this is important for our club and for our supporters as well.”

Matt van Wezel, coach of SLIEDRECHT Sport: “We achieved a very important goal. With such a young team, to perform at this level is a victory, but if Imoco play as well as they did tonight, it is impossible for us to keep up with their level. However, it was an important experience for my team, which for the first time played against a top team like Imoco.”

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