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14/01/2014 22:42
RC CANNES causes first sensation with home victory over Turkish giant
2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Women

Cannes, France, January 14, 2014. France’s RC CANNES caused the first sensation of the Playoffs 12 in the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women as they beat Turkey’s Galatasaray Daikin ISTANBUL 3:1 (25-17, 25-21, 25-27, and 25-23) but could even have finished it in straight sets. Unfortunately Dutch wing-spiker Maret Grothues got injured at the end of the third set and this affected for a while the performance of the home side that was cheered on by 2,800 fans at the Palais des Victoires.
RC CANNES caught a very promising start in the first set (8:5) with Grothues and Eva Yaneva setting the pace of the game. Middle-blocker Freya Aelbrecht then scored another two to force the mentor of Galatasaray, Massimo Barbolini, into a time-out (10:6). The attacks of the home side were perfectly orchestrated by Serbian setter Ana Antonijevic while Galatasaray showed excellent actions in defense with the only exception being their Japanese superstar Saori Kimura. RC CANNES continued to score – especially with their wing-spikers – and cruised to the final 25-17 to set the tone for a memorable night.

Galatasaray got back on track in the early phases of the second set living up to their status and showing off their potential which could barely be seen in the opening section of the game. The score was very close before RC CANNES could break away and lead by three points at the second technical time-out (16:13). Both sides performed strong in attack but RC CANNES then changed their tactics, exploiting their middle-blockers Aelbrecht and Milena Rasic much more than they had done in the first set. After the score was leveled at 17, RC CANNES scored another four points and Galatasaray could no more compensate for this (25-21).

The plot of the game did not change also in the third set where RC CANNES controlled the operations right from the go (8:6, 12:10) and even though Barbolini tried out several options to stop the home side, still the players from the French Riviera were up by four points at the second technical time-out (16:12). However, the home fans were just shocked as Maret Grothues suffered a serious injury – she probably ruptured her Achilles tendon – and had to leave the court. By this stage Galatasaray got the chance to claw back and they did so moving the score to 18:19 even though Grothues was well replaced by Tatjana Bokan. The injury to Grothues affected the home side but RC CANNES got match ball (24:23) on another point by their leader Nadia Centoni before their opponents changed once more the course of the game to make it 25-27 and call for the fourth set.

The Turks stretched momentum leading there 8:6 but with a solid block RC CANNES was able to respond and make it 16:15 in their favor at the second mandatory stop. Even though Barbolini tried to stop that march with the addition of Stefana Veljkovic, Neriman Özsoy and Asli Kalac, RC CANNES continued to set the pace of the game (21:18, 21:20) with Centoni and Aelbrecht still very effective at the net. Though they were leading by three points (23:20), the hosts had to resist to another comeback by their opponents before celebrating a rather unexpected home victory (25-23).

“I am very satisfied with the performance we showed for almost three sets before Maret suffered that injury” says RC CANNES head coach Yan Fang. “Our players could pull together all the various ingredients for a strong performance: aggressive and precise serves, different kind of attacks, good defense and a great fighting spirit, with a smile always stamped on their faces, not to mention the block that brought us many points, especially in the fourth set.”

Though RC CANNES were considered the underdogs going into this game, the home heroines showed their character to seize the night and get the right edge for the return match coming up next week in Turkey.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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