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29/08/2015 22:15
Israel storm back from Friday’s setback to secure ticket to semis
2015 CEV Volleyball European League - Women

Ra’anana, Israel, August 29, 2015. After losing in three sets on Friday, Israel women’s national team made amends for their setback by claiming a hard-fought 3:2 victory (25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 19-25, 15-10) in their second matchup with Greece, this way securing their promotion to the semis of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European League.

Israel started the match in the right way (4:3) but soon trailed by two points (6:8) at the first technical time-out. Greece continued to perform strong, especially at the net, and widened their advantage to 13:7. Israel stormed back and claimed a long and exciting rally to finally draw level at 14 all. Ella Carolina Saada called for the second technical time-out with Israel leading by 16:14; she was also responsible for Israel’s point no. 20 in the set and as Greece narrowed their gap down to one at 20:19, Israeli mentor Arie Selinger asked for a time-out. It was a good move as Israel eventually cashed the opening set by the score of 25-21.

Greece set the pace of the game right from the outset of the second set making it 8:4 in their favour at the first technical time-out. A great spike from the back row by Sofia Starikov secured point no. 8 for Israel but Greece was still in control of the game leading by 12:10. The visitors then extended their lead to 16:11 at the second technical time-out and could capitalise on that (24:22), closing the set at 25-23 resisting to the classy performance delivered by Israeli captain Moran Zur.

Greece continued to set the tempo of the game also in set 3 (10:5) and even the efforts of their always outstanding middle blocker Galit Devash could not prevent Israel from trailing 10:16 at the second technical time-out. However, the last word was yet to be said and Israel fought back with Zur scoring point after point to level the score at 23 all. The final rush was a dramatic one but Israel eventually had the upper hand completing their comeback with a 26-24 set win.

Greece was back on fire in set 4 leading 7:4 before Israel flipped the charts around to move to the front at 10:8. Playing under the eyes of their ambassador to Israel, Mr Spiros Lampridis, Greece’s women stormed back to lead by 14:11; they had a three-point margin at the second technical time-out and continued to impose their rule (21:13) through to the end of the set which they ultimately won by 25-19.

The fifth set was a make-or-break bout for the Israelis who needed to win the match in order to secure their promotion to the semis. The hosts played with glowing hearts opening the tie-break with a 4-1 run, Devash hit from the middle to make it 5:2 and Starikov scored for a massive 8:2 lead as the two teams switched sides of the court. Greece responded by scoring three straight points but Israel still kept a comfortable margin at 10:5. Israel’s lead was then extended to 12:6 but Greece responded with another three straight points. Israel’s coach Arie Selinger called his players to the sideline at 12:9, and with the help of their undisputed leader Moran Zur who scored 34 points in the match (!) Israel eventually cruised to the final 15-10 to celebrate a 3:2 win and their promotion to the semis.

“We played a great game today, my players came in with a completely different mood and energy than yesterday,” Selinger commented. “The atmosphere also helped us deliver such performance tonight and Moran Zur had a terrific game, none could stop her tonight.”

“We are excited for being among the top four of this competition, this is great for our young team,” said Greece’s mentor Ioannis Kalmazidis.

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