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Portugal clinch the nail-biting five-setter
Although the game between Portugal and Estonia was the last match of the day across all European League competitions, the teams put a lot of efforts to make it a cherry on top by playing the first in this edition tie-break. Portugal was leading 2-0 in the match, but Estonia made a furious comeback after two thrilling sets to prolong the game. The emotions ran high in Viana do Castelo, but eventually the hosts prevailed in this dramatic five-setter to earn an important win. Gabriela Coelho topped the scorers chart with 23 points, her teammate Julia Kavalenka scored tallied one less.
The opening set delivered many surprising plot twists. Both teams fought hard for every ball, but it was Estonia to quickly earned a two-point lead at 9-7 that they kept through most of the set with stunning performances of Keru Laak (5 points) and Kadi Kullerkann (4 spikes out of 4!). The hosts tried to bounce back, but it looked that Estonia would prevail in this part, as they stayed on the lead at 22-19. Then Portugal, sparked by their home crowd, started their amazing run. With captain Marta Hurst on the serving line, they not only equaled the score, but after scoring six consecutive points, they led 24-22 and, although they didn't use the first opportunity, they didn't waste the second chance.
After winning the opening set, Portugal got wind under their wings. They ran away with the score in the middle of the set with Katia Oliveira on the service line, they scored seven points in a row to reach their maximum advantage at 15-6. Thanks to a top performance on block - six winning stuffs, and on the service line that included not only 5 aces, but caused a lot of problems to their rivals, they quickly sealed the deal. Julia Kavalenka and Maia Margarida were top scorers of the host side, contributing with seven and six points in this part, respectively.
Having no more room for mistakes, Estonia started the third set by taking an early 6-3 and then 9-4 lead. Laak and Milen helped their team to improve it further, up to 14-6. And once it looked that the distance is safe enough, Portugal once again started to chase the score. The hosts managed to shorten the distance to 22-20, but successful attacks from Peit and Laak moved Estonia to 24-20. At set point, the setter and captain Julija Monnakmae took things in her hand to close the set with her spike.
The next part turned into a true rollercoaster and there were details to decide. Estonia again started it better (7-3), but the hosts quickly made it up and the game continued on a point-by-point basis until 21-21. Then, the game was even more intense. First, Estonia wasted two chances to win the set, later they denied two match points to eventually prolong the game into atie-break.
It was a cold shower for the hosts, Portugal came to the court fully focused on their mission, quickly jumping to a 8-3 lead. But it didn't discourage Estonia, who made a stunning comeback at 12-11. Although the teams battled hard, Portugal managed to find their way to close the match with a lucky block from Barbara Gomes.
The match in numbers
The combined total number of points scored by both teams throughout the entire match.
The total length of the match, from the first serve through until the last point has ended.
Total number of people in attendance at the venue – taken at the end of the second set.
The combined total number of successful spikes achieved by both teams throughout the entire match.
An average of the two team service reception percentages from the complete match.
The number of successful point winning blocks of PORTUGAL compared to ESTONIA.
PORTUGAL number of service aces compared to ESTONIA
Errors leading to points of PORTUGAL, next to those from ESTONIA