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27/09/2017 21:10
Germany ‘tame’ Lionesses to play Azerbaijan for place in #EuroVolleyW semis
2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Baku, Azerbaijan, September 27, 2017. Germany’s ‘Butterflies’ caused a little sensation in the last of four Playoff matches at the 2017 women’s EuroVolley as they beat Bulgaria 3-2 in a rollercoaster of a match (14-25, 25-20, 16-25, 25-19, 15-11) to secure their spot among the top eight in Europe. On Friday, Germany will play hosts Azerbaijan for a place in the semis – and team captain Maren Fromm & Co. will be trying to improve on their previous bout in Pool A where they took one set from the home side, the only one Azerbaijan have dropped so far in the tournament.

Bulgaria and Germany crossed swords on Wednesday evening playing their matchup no. 134 in history, with Germany – including the results claimed by the former German Democratic Republic – boasting a record of 81 wins and 52 losses. However, Bulgaria were the favourites going into this match, especially after they delivered a series of startling performances in Pool C where they finished as runners-up after they were close to upsetting reigning European champions Russia.

Bulgaria set the pace of the match in a one-sided opening set, where Elitsa Vasileva and her colleagues smashed the opponent to rally to a compelling 25-14 win.

The course of the game, however, changed in the second set where the young German side coached by Felix Koslowski put up a fight and dictated the tempo almost from start to end. Bulgaria made some changes to their initial starting six, with veteran Eva Yaneva taking to the court as well, and despite a late surge, the ‘Lionesses’ could not prevent their opponent from levelling the match (25-20).

The third set was pretty much a close fight at the beginning, before Bulgaria romped to a 15-9 lead as they stepped up the quality and intensity of their efforts. Despite Germany’s attempt at a comeback, Bulgaria could hold on to their lead and team captain Elitsa Vasileva eventually doubled their lead in the match with an ace (25-16).

Playing under the eyes of their Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Germany showed much determination and focus as they fought back from an early 5-8 deficit in the fourth set to lead the way at the second technical time-out (16-12). At this stage, Bulgaria coach Ivan Dimitrov decided to replace starting setter Lora Kitipova with Diana Nenova – and this move produced some effect, but not enough to avoid the prospects of a tiebreaker.

Germany stormed to an 8-5 lead at the side switch in the all-deciding set – with their block causing some damage and their spikers regularly finding a way through the Bulgarian defence. The ‘Lionesses’ clawed back from 9-12 to 11-12, but after that Germany delivered a series of three straight points to finish it all off at 15-12 with their second best scorer Jennifer Geerties – thus securing their right for a second matchup with hosts Azerbaijan in the tournament.


Louisa Lippmann, opposite and top scorer for Germany with 21 points: “That scream before the start of the tiebreaker is our ritual, something that we do in the locker room before every match. We got extremely close together and said that we need to celebrate every point as if it were the last one and go for the goal, which is to go to the quarterfinals and then go on further. I’m so proud of our team – we fought so hard and gave so much energy with each point.”

Felix Koslowski, head coach of Germany: “We are extremely happy because we have just won with a team which has so many world-class players! We are still a very young team and beat an opponent who has so much experience, so much physical power, who played incredibly well in the preliminary round, almost finishing first in the pool. Even when we lost a set to 14 or 16, we always came back and fought. Before the match, we said that we want to go out and just play, no matter what happens and no matter what the score is. When we arrived at the tiebreak, we knew that we were where we wanted to be – we wanted them in a tie, we wanted to put them in stress and that was the moment for us to put our courage in the court and push again. What an amazing job the girls did! I think I’m the proudest person in Baku today.”

Elitsa Vasileva, team captain of Bulgaria: “We faced our usual problem today. We played great Volleyball in one set and then… We are not stable in our game and play either very well or very bad. This is our biggest problem and it did not improve or change through this tournament as in each game we were close to winning 3-0 or 3-1 and in the end we did not.”

Ivan Dimitrov, head coach of Bulgaria: “We are really disappointed to finish the European Championship with the Playoffs. What can I say? A few days ago, our players Hristina Ruseva and Elitsa Vasileva were ill and could not train with the other members of the team. On the match day, they were ok, but we did not show high-level Volleyball. Many people said we were the favourites going in this matchup with Germany, but finally we are sad to have to leave the competition.”

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