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24/09/2017 22:36
Azerbaijan storm to second straight-sets victory under the eyes of President Aliyev
2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Baku, Azerbaijan, September 24, 2017. Azerbaijan’s spectacular run at the historic women’s EuroVolley they are co-hosting together with Georgia continued on Sunday as the hosts rallied to a comprehensive 3-0 victory (25-14, 25-21, 25-23) over Poland to cement their leadership in Pool A – where they still have to contest their last match with Germany. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr Ilham Aliyev, paid a second visit to the National Gymnastics Arena and was among the many fans to celebrate yet another win for the home side – who have embarked on a mission to improve on their best #EuroVolleyW result to date, i.e. the fourth place they achieved back in 2005 in Croatia. Later in the evening, Germany beat Hungary 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 25-18) to secure their progression to the Playoffs – with Hungary packing their bags since they have to leave the competition after suffering three losses in as many matches.

Azerbaijan vs. Poland 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-23)

Azerbaijan had enjoyed the privilege of a short break following their successful debut on Friday late afternoon where they made up for a slow start to rout Hungary in three sets – whereas Poland had played nine sets in their previous two matches with Germany and Hungary, these resulting in two victories for the White-and-Reds. Playing under the eyes of State President Ilham Aliyev, who on Sunday paid a second visit to the 2017 women’s EuroVolley, Azerbaijan stormed to a thunderous 25-14 win in the opening set of their matchup with Poland, much to the delight of an almost sell-out crowd.

The second set was a much different story with Poland fighting for every point and keeping the score close until the second technical timeout (16-14). At this stage, Azerbaijan found more consistency in their game, producing an impressive run (22-16) with Polina Rahimova and Natalya Mammadova being their main assets. Poland put up a fight (23-20) but Rahimova secured four set points for the home side – and she was responsible for sealing Azerbaijan’s 25-21 win to double the hosts’ lead in the match.

In a sort of ‘crescendo’, the match grew in intensity and quality in the third set – where Poland edged ahead a few times and had a little advantage towards the end (23-21) before Azerbaijan’s comeback sparked much enthusiasm among the crowd in attendance. The hosts scored four points in a row and the match eventually ended in a 3-0 victory for the home side – the second such score line in as many matches as they had produced the same result in their opening game with Hungary on Friday.


Valeriya Mammadova, libero of Azerbaijan: “It is a great start for us – with two wins in two matches. Poland have a very strong team but we celebrated a victory in three sets. The third set was very difficult for us, but towards the end, we eventually played without making mistakes. Now our team is entirely focussed on the last match of the group stage against Germany.”

Polina Rahimova, opposite of Azerbaijan: “We played such an emotional match. Sometimes I felt like our team was flying on the court. The third set was much closer, but we continued to fight and eventually celebrated a well-deserved victory. Poland have a good block and our team played clean in defence and we fought for our chances as much as we could in attack too.”

Martyna Grajber, player of Poland: “We did not play our game at all in those first two sets. Malwina [Smarzek] was hauling us with her spiking, but we could not join her. When each one of us combined their effort in set three, the result was much closer. If the referee’s last decision had gone the other way, it could have been a much different game, as pressure was visibly mounting on Azerbaijan’s players. It has also been the first time for us to face a team whose outside spikers are two meters tall. You know what to do in theory, but without meeting this kind of opposition on a regular basis, it is very difficult. However, that third set showed that it was doable.”

Jacek Nawrocki, coach of Poland: “I think that we did not start that bad – up until the first time-out it did not look bad at all, but later on we couldn’t stop Rahimova nor Mammadova, while Poznyak was also doing a good job. With an opponent like that, you have to take a lot more risks with the serve and get a little “crazy” with your attack. Our girls do not often face the kind of serve we saw in the second set, when a jump-served ball was flying at 100km/h or faster. Our chance came in the third set but unfortunately, we lacked that bit of that “crazy” I was talking about.”

Germany vs. Hungary 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 25-18)

The last match of the day in Baku was pretty much a do-or-die bout for both Germany and Hungary, as they were still vying for their first victory in the tournament. Germany could rely on their solid teamwork – with a substantial share of their roster and staring line up having played together in Schwerin this past season – to compensate for the lack of major stars, but Hungary responded with much of a collective effort as well. The first set was a close affair, with Germany showing more consistency in a number of key rallies to secure a 25-21 win.

As they were making their second consecutive appearance in a #EuroVolleyW Final Round before they co-host the 2019 edition together with Turkey, Poland and the Czech Republic, Hungary looked determined to put up a fight to stay ‘alive’ in the competition. They very much did that, with Bernadett Dekany and team captain Rita Bokorné Liliom helping secure an early 8-4 lead in the second set – something they were able to hold on as they eventually cruised to a 25-19 set win.

Hungary took that momentum into set three where they initially set the tempo of the game (8-5) before Germany fought back and eventually doubled their lead in the match (25-21) as the fight for ‘survival’ in the tournament was taken to the next level of intensity. Germany’s rhythm grew with the game and the ‘Butterflies’ comfortably sailed towards their first victory in the tournament – with it sending Hungary home and securing their qualification to the Playoffs before taking on hosts Azerbaijan in their last match in the pool.


Louisa Lippmann, opposite hitter of Germany and her team’s top scorer of the match with 19 points: “It was a very tough match. That second set was really unnecessary for us, but I am proud of how my team came back in the third one. We knew that Hungary would play a lot of shorts and that their outside hitter No.1 [Greta Szakmary] is very strong – we could have played a little better with our block in that part but in the end I’m just happy that we are in the next round. Azerbaijan will be a super hard game, with them playing at home and having such giant players. We are a very young team but we’ll fight with courage and we might find our luck, as it will also be very difficult in the next phase, with teams like Russia, Turkey and Bulgaria.”

Felix Koslowski, head coach of Germany: “As for the next match with Azerbaijan, we have to acknowledge that we somehow play at different levels – but we will be trying to put up a fight and to play as clever as we can. If we only try to play and hit hard, that is most likely not to work, so we have to find some other solutions in order to be competitive in that game as well.”

Rita Bokorné Liliom, team captain of Hungary: “We are satisfied with the fact that we started each of these three games very well, but unhappy with how we couldn’t close the sets when we wanted, despite being ahead in points. I think we showed good concentration in the beginning of each set and I am proud of the team and of getting here, because this was a long summer while our list of players was short. On the other hand, we very much wanted to bring at least one win from here and our biggest chance was tonight, so we are disappointed that we could not make it happen. The tournament is great. We love the European Championship and we want to stay around for a long time.” 

Alberto Salomoni, coach of Hungary: “I think we grew with each match. We gave all we could give at this moment. Of course, our roster was small and we lacked experience; obviously, I cannot say anything bad about my team because they worked very hard this summer and we achieved a very good result by winning the World Grand Prix Group 3. We are sad that our adventure here ends today but I think we earned respect in this competition because even if we lost three matches, we showed good Volleyball, we played well organised and we fought all the way. Of course we have our limitations and we pay the price for that.”

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News nr. 36 of 144
25/09/2017 19:13:00
Azerbaijan beat Germany to progress straight to #EuroVolleyW quarterfinals
24/09/2017 22:30:00
Italy top Pool B, Belarus confirm spot in next phase of #EuroVolleyW

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