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18/10/2012 18:00
Back after 7 years Uralochka wants to defend its name and past honors
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Ekaterinburg, Russia, October 18, 2012. Uralochka-NTMK EKATERINBURG will celebrate its comeback in Europe’s most elitist competition, the CEV Volleyball Champions League, next week in Cannes but a real Volleyball party is coming up in conjunction with the first home match scheduled for November 1 and whereby the Russian side will play host to Vakifbank ISTANBUL of Turkey. On Wednesday head coach Nikolay Karpol and team captain Evgenia Estes (Artamonova) attended a press conference at the local premises of Itar-Tass to talk to the media and discuss about their plans and goals.
Uralochka is back in action in the Champions League after 7 years. “We got the right to participate after finishing third in the Russian Superleague last year” said Karpol. “Uralochka has won this competition eight times and we evidently want to live up to our past honors and perform well”. Karpol feels like his side will be confronted by very tough opponents already in the prelims. “We were assigned to a very difficult Pool. I think this is probably the toughest among the six groups and the most dangerous opponent is quite evidently Vakifbank ISTANBUL that won the trophy in the 2010/2011 season. They even edged Fenerbahce in their national league, i.e. the winner of the past edition, and this speaks for their competitiveness. We also have last year’s silver medalists in our group, RC CANNES of France. Since only the first and second ranked teams will make it to the Playoffs, it won’t be easy to make it there. However, our goal is not simply to make it out of the prelims, but also to advance to the final four” stressed the legendary Russian mentor.    

Karpol expressed his intention to remain loyal to a policy whereby most of the players included in the roster and in the starting six are “produced” by the local Volleyball school in Ekaterinburg. “I think this is our strength and advantage. By the time many foreign clubs are trying to sign as many foreign players as possible, we leave some empty spots. It is possible that, as we did last season, we invite Irina Kirillova to join us halfway through the season. We may also invite a Cuban player but everything depends on the quality and consistency we will display in the first half of the season. We basically have the same group that played for Uralochka last year, only middle blocker Marina Maryukhnich has left the club while Maria Beloborodova is back after playing last year for Dinamo KAZAN. Another talented pupil of our Volleyball school, Kira Yakimova, will be playing for Uralochka this season after spending the past 9 years in Belarus”.    

Summing up the preparations that the team has undergone before the start of the season, Karpol said: “We had a number of training camps in the Sverdlovsk Region, in Alushta and in Baku, where we played a few friendly matches with the national team of Azerbaijan. In late September, before the prelims of the national cup, we won a pre-season tournament in Belarus joined by teams from Russia, Poland, Belarus and the Czech Republic. Evgenia Estes did not spend much time with us as she was busy with the national team and she participated in the Olympics this past summer. Our Bulgarian player Strashimira Filipova came back in late September after helping her national team qualify for the final round of the 2013 European Championship”.    

“We have a very demanding task to cope with and we need some time to play together and get the right chemistry. We will do our best to play good Volleyball and defend the honor of this club and hope we won’t suffer any injuries throughout the season” said team captain Evgenia Estes. 

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