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03/11/2016 21:35
HPK determined to upset Minchanka in Champions League home debut
2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women

Hämeenlinna, Finland, November 3, 2016. HPK HÄMEENLINNA will debut in front of the home crowd at the highest level of European Volleyball on Saturday, November 5. The CEV Volleyball Champions League newcomers from Finland will face their fellow debutants Minchanka MINSK of Belarus again in the second round clash. The Belarusian champions used the home-court advantage on Tuesday, beating their Finnish rivals in four sets.

As these teams crossed their ways for the first time at the Falcon Club Arena in Minsk, the home side showed the strength and routine of their Belarusian internationals. They ended up winning all but one set playing consistent Volleyball and now HPK have to deal with a must-win situation for the second leg.

Still the representatives of the Finnish team are hopeful. HPK haven’t lost a single set on domestic soil this season and will finally play the first match of the autumn at a sold-out Elenia Areena.

“Playing at home is always good and now there’s going to be crowd. It could be good for the girls. I’m positive,” said HPK head coach Luca Chiappini on Thursday.

It’s often difficult to start a European campaign abroad, especially without thorough information about a first-ever Champions League opponent. In the first leg Minchanka’s spikers Katsiaryna Silantsyeva and Aksana Kavalchuk were unstoppable while HPK’s key duo Katja Kylmäaho and Piia Korhonen were marked closely. However, Chiappini’s squad will be better prepared for a possible revenge.

“We were blind there but now we know something. They are a very good team. They have very solid outside spikers and a very strong opposite. It’s not going to be easy but let’s see on Saturday,” the Italian boss said.

“We have to focus on every member of their team, because it’s not about a single player. All Minchanka players are experienced and professional. Probably we have to improve the way we play because we didn’t play our best Volleyball (in the first game), especially when it comes to our service,” he concluded.

The second leg of the CEV Volleyball Champions League second round match-up between HPK HÄMEENLINNA and Minchanka MINSK will be served-off at 6 pm local time (GMT +2) on Saturday. Two sets won would take Minchanka to the third round while HPK will need at least a 3-1 victory and the golden set to advance. The winner of this rookie bout will be likely to face one of the best teams in the world, Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL, in the contest for a berth in the group stage.

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