Baku, March 9, AZERTAC
On Tuesday night Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar moved one step closer to the final stage of the 2016 CEV Volleyball Cup – Women. The hosts defeated Azeryol Baku from Azerbaijan in three straight sets (25-22, 25-15, 25-23) and got the right edge ahead of the re-match, which is due to follow on Saturday in Baku, according to the official website of the European Volleyball Confederation. The team from Azerbaijan will be trying to prevent Dinamo Krasnodar from securing their third appearance in the final of the CEV Volleyball Cup – Women, as the Russians settled for the silver medal in 2011 after losing to Italy’s Château d’Ax Urbino before topping the podium last year.
The two teams showed their determination right from the beginning of the match as they fought for every point with a lot of energy (2-2, 4-4). The home side made some offensive mistakes and Edina Dobi scored two important points to move the score to 6-4 for Azeryol. The players from Azerbaijan’s capital showed the same energy as their Hungarian-born middle blocker and as a result Azeryol jumped ahead 8-6 at the first technical time-out. Dinamo Krasnodar tried to stop the run of the visiting team but their head coach, Konstantin Ushakov, was forced to ask for another time-out when trailing 7-11. Inspired by her mentor Alexandra Pasynkova saved an incredible ball in defence but Azeryol Baku continued to perform well to set the pace again at 15-10. Dinamo fought back by cutting their deficit after scoring three straight points (15-13) and at this stage Ziya Rajabov, the young and energetic head coach of Azeryol Baku, thought it was time to stop the actions to let his players regroup. It worked as Azeryol Baku kept a two-point lead at 18-16 and 19-17. Towards the end of the set the two head coaches used their remaining time-out to try and impose their supremacy as Natalia Malykh first made a service error before Irina Filishtinskaya scored an amazing ace for the home side. With some solid blocking Dinamo erased Azeryol’s lead and eventually drew level at 22-all. Alexandra Pasynkova performed a great spike and as a result her side edged ahead at 23-22. Marina Maryukhnich masterfully blocked the visiting team and some defence mistakes made by Azeryol paved the way for the final 25-22 set win by the hosts.
In early stages of the second set Dinamo Krasnodar took the initiative and quickly moved the score to 4-0. The Azeri head coach, Ziya Rajabov, asked for an early time-out. However, the host team continued to play aggressively and gained a massive seven-point lead at 7-0. Anastasia Shlyakhovaya called for the first technical time-out with Dinamo comfortably leading 8-1. Azeryol Baku attempted a comeback and slightly cut their deficit at 10-5. However, Dinamo Krasnodar did not agree with any such perspective and responded by scoring time and again to make it 14-5 in their favour. Alexandra Pasynkova blocked Edina Dobi to keep that same margin later on in the set. Dinamo moved the score to 19-9 and even though coach Rajabov tried to change the rhythm of the game by asking for another time-out, Dinamo cruised to a commanding 25-15 set win to further cement their leadership in the match.
The third set followed the same plot as the opening one. The teams showed their best performance in an attempt to get the right edge but the score remained close up to 4-all. Anna Stepaniuk, the Ukrainian-born outside spiker of Azeryol Baku, attempted to change the course of the game, but Dinamo continued to spike and block with a terrific success rate to secure an 8-4 lead at the first technical time-out. A fantastic spike by the grand dame of Russia’s Volleyball Liubov Sokolova further extended the Russian advantage to 12-8. Irina Filishtinskaya made things even more difficult for the visiting team as her serve was a difficult challenge to stand for Azeryol. However, the team from Baku showed a lot of resilience and determination to close in at 19-16 before Natalia Malykh (pictured, #17), the real leader of the Russian team on Tuesday night, stepped up her efforts to make it 20-17 for Dinamo. Azeryol Baku, however, did not give in and closed in again at 21-20. The best rallies of the match followed in the final stages of the third set for the fans to get something special to enjoy but in the end Dinamo stayed cool and cashed a 25-23 set win to seal their 3-0 home victory.
Ziya Rajabov, the head coach of Azeryol Baku, said: “We missed our chance to win the first set. If we had claimed the opening set, we could have fought in a different way. The setback we suffered in the first set affected our players and we simply did not regroup for the second set. It was a mental damage, so to speak. In the third set my team came back strong and we had a chance to win that one as well, but in the end it did not happen. Now the main thing is to prepare for the next match and show our real value and best performance in Baku.”
Mareen Apitz, the captain of Azeryol Baku, said: “First of all I would like to single out the incredible atmosphere here in Krasnodar. The fans of the home team were amazing and very supportive. I am upset with the fact that we did not win the first set. We played confidently, but something went wrong. We completely collapsed in the second set but in the third one we had a chance. However, once again we could not finish it off. Dinamo Krasnodar is a very strong team, and they have world-class players. They are tall and fast. It’s hard to play against them. However, we are going to fight in the second match. We will prepare and try to show our best game. We really hope to get to the golden set.”
Konstantin Ushakov, the head coach of Dinamo Krasnodar, said: “Tonight all went according to our game plan. Maybe the fans can say that it was an easy win, but it was not. We worked hard for this and deserved the victory. The third set was the most difficult one. In the second game in Baku we need to stay focussed, calm and have to be inspired at the same time.”
Liubov Sokolova (Shashkova), the captain of Dinamo Krasnodar, said: “We all got to see the game. It was an awesome present for everyone. I think that with this victory we made it a little brighter day for the fans.”