Luxembourg, May 23, 2018. The leading positions became apparent as Leg 2 in the CEV Volleyball Golden European League – Women on Wednesday came to an end. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan go head to head in Pool A with two victories and six points each. Bulgaria remain ahead after losing only one set in their two matches this far. In Pool B only Hungary stay unbeaten after their victory over Croatia in Budapest. Czech Republic and Belarus keep close in Pool C after their straight-set victories, with the first staying one point ahead since Belarus ‘only’ claimed two points this past weekend in Slovakia.
Azerbaijan vs. Portugal 3-1 (24-26, 25-17, 25-14, 25-17)
Azerbaijan congratulated themselves with a 3-1 victory in their game vs. Portugal and are on the winning path in the #EuroLeagueW. Although they started worse than their opponents losing the first set, the Azeris got back on their feet and grabbed the next three sets.
• The unfolding of the match was a kind of “déjà-vu” from the first leg for Team Azerbaijan as they lost their first set in the match vs. Ukraine as well but then seized a 3-1 win.
• The reason for losing the first part was the weak play of Azerbaijan in reception, where they made too many mistakes. The visitors surprised the home team in the first set. There was a lack of concentration in the last moments, when the Azeri girls were leading at 24-22; Portugal scored two times and eventually emerged victorious.
• Things changed in the three following sets, when the home side was more stable in the different components of the game and won with a comfortable point-difference.
Famil Aghayev, assistant coach of Azerbaijan: “The Azerbaijan team is still searching for their optimal game in the Golden European League. We play without some key players and we give a chance to younger ones. This match was an important step in our preparations for the match vs. Bulgaria. We will try to show better Volleyball in Sofia, that’s for sure.”
Olena Hasanova, player of Azerbaijan: “This match against Portugal was not easy at all. We made some mistakes in the first set and we tried to change the situation. In the following sets, our reception and block worked better and we took the win. Now we are waiting for the games against Bulgaria – one of the strongest opponents in our group.”
Manuel Almeida, head coach of Portugal: “My team started well and showed a good game in block and reception, but Azerbaijan were better in the following sets. I am happy that we fought in each set. Yes, Portugal lost but the game itself was very interesting and I hope the fans enjoyed it.”
Bulgaria vs. Ukraine 3-1 (32-34, 25-10, 25-22, 25-21)
The team of Bulgaria keep on presenting themselves well in the #EuroLeagueW after storming to a 3-1 win over Ukraine (32-34, 25-10, 25-22, 25-21). The first set of this matchup from Leg 2 in Pool A of the competition featured many long and intense rallies. Ukraine needed 31 minutes to close that first part at 34-32, but then Bulgaria reacted properly and took control of the match.
• This is Bulgaria’s second win in a row in the #EuroLeagueW.
• The Lionesses defeated Ukraine 3-1 in Pool A of the tournament after a very long and interesting first part of the match.
• The captain of the hosts – Hristina Ruseva finished as top scorer with 21 points, and registered an outstanding performance at the net with 11 blocks.
• Gergana Dimitrova recorded 16 points for the winners while Mariya Karakasheva scored 13 times.
• For Ukraine Nadiia Kodola contributed with 17 points.
Ivan Petkov, head coach of Bulgaria: “We started the match really well but we were too emotional and made some mistakes which cost us the opening set. In the next three sets, on the other hand, we did not make the same errors and managed to close the match by 3-1. Now we start to think about our next game against Azerbaijan on Saturday. We have to prepare really well because they are a strong team. I hope to win and to finish our home matches in “Hristo Botev” sports hall with three victories!”
Hristina Ruseva, captain of Bulgaria: “I’m really happy with our performance today. We were in a difficult situation after the first set, but all the girls managed to come back even stronger and to achieve this great result. We can definitely see a change in the way we play this season. We need time to improve our performance and to show our real potential. Azerbaidjan is a good team with good players, but we will do everything we can to win.”
Nadiia Kodola, captain of Ukraine: “We were in a good position after the opening set. In the following ones, however, we missed our chances and let the Bulgarian team play better and better. They found their rhythm and defeated us, but the tournament is still in the beginning, so we will have our opportunity to show a better performance.”
Hungary vs. Croatia 3-1 (26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 25-12)
- The opening set, in the first match since 1997 where the two teams have played in Hungary, was tight. Croatia had a narrow lead until 22-22, but then the Hungarians played better to win 26-24.
- The second set was similar to the first: Croatia took an early lead, Hungary fought back from 16-19, taking six points in a row before eventually winning the set 25-23.
- In the third set Croatia led 15-11, Hungary came back to 22-21, but the visiting team eventually took the set 25-23.
- The fourth set was clearly dominated by the hosts, Hungary led 6-1, later 15-7, and eventually won 25-12.
- Best player of the match was Anett Németh (Hungary). Best scorers were Gréta Szakmáry (Hungary) with 21 points, and Dinka Kulic (Croatia) with 12 points.
- Hungary won its second match in a row, while Croatia has one victory and one defeat after two rounds. The number of spectators in attendance reached 1,100.
Jan De Brandt, coach of Hungary: “It was a tough game, both teams played very well. We could win thanks to our great serves, and the defence of my team was the best I have ever seen since working with the girls.”
Igor Lovrinov, coach of Croatia: “In the first two sets we could have won, but Hungary was luckier. In the last set we couldn’t do anything against the great defence of the host team.”
Finland vs. France 3-0 (25-18, 25-13, 25-21)
- Top scorers of the match were Piia Korhonen (FIN) with 15 points and Amandha Marine Sylves (FRA) with 9.
- Finland have never lost a women’s national team match in Jyväskylä. After beating France, the amount of victories grew to 4.
- It was great atmosphere in the hall, the total amount of spectators standing at 1,216.
- Finnish libero Tiiamari Sievänen played an amazing match in reception (68%) and in defence as well.
Tapio Kangasniemi, coach of Finland: “We have a great volleyball culture in Finland. It doesn’t matter where we play, the hall is always full. Our basic level in the game was good enough, but we still have some elements to improve.”
Juliette Fidon, captain of France: “Finland played very well and they deserved the victory. We are quite a new and young team, so we have to continue working hard.”
Belarus vs. Slovakia 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-20)
- The beginning of the match in Minsk showed the dominance of Belarus, but Slovakia proved a challenging opponent. In the first set the visiting team had an excellent comeback, bouncing back from 21-17 down to 22-21 after taking the lead thanks to outside-spiker Nikola Radosova.
- An error of setter Barbora Kosekova allowed Belarus to take the lead back at 24-23. Hanna Hryshkevich had an excellent shot on the set-ball for 25-23, allowing the host team to win the set.
- Belarusians Nadzeya Stoliar and Tatsiana Seryk were successful in attack in the second set, making it 21-17 for Belarus, before they extended the gap to 2-0, after winning the set 25-19. The hosts eventually claimed a straight set victory.
- Anzhelika Barysevich showed a good performance in blocking and scored three points in this element. Nikola Radosova from Slovakia was the top scorer with 16 points, but her team had to accept a second defeat from Belarus in as many matches.
Piotr Khilko, coach of Belarus: “We had a good match tonight. Setter Anastasiya Shash was the key that allowed my players to have a good attack. With the second victory in the Golden European League, we will approach the next matches with the right attitude.”
Marco Fenoglio, coach of Slovakia: “My team had a good comeback to take the lead in the first set, however we lost the initiative ourselves and made too many errors. It is impossible to win a match while making so many errors. A few days ago in Poprad we showed a better game.”
Czech Republic vs. Spain 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-21)
- The Spanish team opened the match perfectly, building a six-point-lead in the first set. However, Czech Republic managed to tie the score and improve their game, eventually winning the opening set 25-20.
- The second set was very tight at the beginning. Nevertheless, the hosts extended their lead and thanks to two aces at the end, they clinched the second set 25-16.
- With the support of an enthusiastic home crowd, the Czechs celebrated a 3-0 win.
- Andrea Kossanyiova (CZE) was top scorer of the match after claiming 11 points. Maria Segura (ESP) was the best scorer of Spain with eight points.
- The match lasted 74 minutes only.
Barbora Purchartova, captain of Czech Republic: “The beginning of the match was slower, the Spaniards were great in defence. We made many mistakes, but then we improved and we played a really good game. I’m happy about our victory today.”
Zdenek Pommer, coach of Czech Republic: “Despite of our nervousness today, my girls confirmed that they are the favourites. They also proved that the victory in Spain was not a coincidence. They were great in block at the end of the match and with their sky-ball serve.”
Helia Gonzalez, captain of Spain: “The beginning of the match was great, but we didn’t keep this level. That’s why we lost today and also the last match. We have to work on it.”