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16/12/2017 23:24
Russia secure EEVZA U16 Women’s Championship gold on home soil
News from the Zonal Associations

Moscow, Russia, December 16, 2017. Hosts Russia claimed the gold medal from the 2017 edition of the EEVZA U16 Women’s Volleyball Championship held in Moscow after storming to a 3-1 victory (25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 25-13) in the ‘virtual’ final with Belarus.

The match started very nervously for both teams as they showed their determination to win. Tatiana Kadochkina and Elizaveta Gosheva attacked from the wings but Belarus responded with spikes of Darya Sauchuk in the middle for an early 8-6 lead at the first technical. The score remained close through to 12-all but several backcourt spikes from Kseniya Liabiodkina and Darya Borys forced Russian coach Svetlana Safronova to ask for a timeout. Liabiodkina made several aces and Belarus claimed a four-point lead thanks to a few Russian reception mistakes. After the second technical timeout, Russia engaged in a close battle (16-16) and Dzmitry Kot, head coach of Belarus asked for a break. The Russian players reduced the number of their own mistakes to lead 22-18 and kept the advantage until the end of the set (25-20).

Kadochkina earned a 7-3 advantage for Russia in the early stages of the second set. Belarus made several mistakes in attack but after the timeout asked by Dzmitry Kot reduced the gap down to three points. After the break, both teams struggled to play with consistency but Russian setter Polina Matveeva brought several points for the home side (16-11). Hits from the middle of the net by Elizaveta Kochurina and Elizaveta Apalikova established a commanding lead (22-13) for the hosts but Liabiodkina helped Belarus close a little in at 22-16. Svetlana Safronova asked for a timeout and Kochurina closed the set 25-16.

In the third set Russia avoided making mistakes and stormed to an 8-4 lead at the first technical break via attacks of Kadochkina and Vita Akimova. After the timeout, Darya Borys troubled the Russian reception and equalised the score (10-10) before Belarus edged ahead shortly afterwards (15-12). At this stage, Svetlana Safronova asked for a timeout. This brought no result, as Belarus moved the score to 19-13. Elizaveta Popova started to serve and the Russian team could reorganise their game. However, several attacks out of bounds and a net violation by Russia helped Belarus claim the set 25-21 with their star player Liabiodkina scoring the last point.

Both teams made many unforced mistakes at the beginning of the fourth set. Belarus made less and could finish several attacks to lead 8-6. However, the Russian team could cope with their nerves and hits of Gosheva and Kadochkina helped Russia lead 13-11 and 16-12. After the second technical timeout, Belarus spiked out of bounds many times and Russia had a comfortable margin at 20-12. Dzmitry Kot made several substitutions but the situation did not get any better for Belarus, as Russia cruised to a compelling 25-13 win.

Svetlana Safronova, head coach of Russia: “I am happy that we could win this match. This game showed that we need to work more and to cope with our problems.”

Elizaveta Kochurina, player of Russia: “I am very happy that we became a real team and now play like a real team. However, we need to improve our reception.”

Ekaterina Gamova, Russian Volleyball legend working with the gold medal winning team: “Our team could play better and should have won this match 3-0 but the girls lost concentration in the third set. This tournament is very useful before the European Championship qualifiers coming up in January.”

Dzmitry Kot, head coach of Belarus: “Our players were nervous today. They wanted to win too badly. We made many mistakes in reception and from the service line as well.”

Kseniya Liabiodkina, team captain of Belarus: “Our mistakes did not allow us to achieve more. We practically always hit out of bounds. However, we will work even harder to improve our game.”

Latvia claim Baltic derby to take bronze

Estonia and Latvia clashed in a Baltic derby with the bronze medals at stake. At the beginning of the match, both teams were trading points; however, Estonia edged ahead (8-7) thanks to a service winner of Laura Kaur. Helena Loos with her attacks from the left wing supported her teammates in establishing a 15-12 lead for Estonia. Latvia coach Andrejs Odinokovs asked for a timeout but the next attack of Katrina Paula Krustkalne finished out of bounds. After the second technical timeout, Latvia regrouped avoiding making too many mistakes and levelled the score 22-22 before finishing the set 25-22 in their favour with the help of poor reception from Estonia.

Jekaterina Gordejeva and Kristine Kramena found several holes in the Estonian block and earned an early 8-2 lead for Latvia in the second set. Great serves of Gordejeva and several blocks of Evelina Rutkovska established a commanding 16-3 score for Latvia at the second technical timeout. Agnese Pulina with her backcourt spikes moved the figures to 20-11 for Latvia before Kramena finished the set (25-16) to double the Latvian lead in the match.

In the third set Latvia had problems to cope with the powerful service of Laura Laas from Estonia and despite several substitutions and a timeout asked by Odinokovs, Estonia reached an impressive 8-0 lead. After the timeout, Latvia showed more team spirit and desire not to lose anymore and reduced their gap to two points at 12-10. Despite of all the Latvian efforts, the Estonian players were nevertheless still in control (16-11) and were able to hold on to their advantage (21-16). Maren Mõrd and Helena Loos paved the way towards a 25-19 win for Estonia.

In the fourth set, Latvia caught a flying start and forced Estonia coach Peeter Vahtra to use his first timeout as his side trailed 4-6. Vahtra found the right words for his players and Estonia scored a few times to lead 8-7 at the first technical timeout. After the break, a huge number of reception mistakes on the Estonian side of the court helped Latvia edge ahead and Olga Kuznecova brought them up 16-13. After the second technical timeout, the teams continued to fight and Katriin Põld levelled the score 18-18 and Estonia were 20-18 up shortly afterwards. However, with the help of sub Alise Kjasile, Latvia changed the course of the game again and eventually closed the set (25-21) and the match in their favour.

Andrejs Odinokovs, head coach of Latvia: “We have played many matches with Estonia. In the first two sets, my players executed the game plan we had discussed but after that, they somehow weakened and lost the third one. However, they came back and proved that they were ready to win.”

Evelina Rutkovska, player of Latvia: “At the beginning of the match we were too nervous but we could calm down and won two sets. In the third set, we felt the taste of victory and we lost concentration. In the fourth set, on the other hand, we regrouped and eventually won.”

Peeter Vahtra, head coach of Estonia: “We made too many stupid mistakes and we displayed a poor team effort.”

Laura Laas, player of Estonia: “It was a very tough game for us. We did not have enough energy today but we did our best.”

Final standing

1.    Russia
2.    Belarus
3.    Latvia
4.    Estonia  

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