Baku, September 22, AZERTAC
The hosts from Azerbaijan had a little bit of a rusty start to their matchup with Hungary as they obviously felt the pressure resulting from the home debut but they eventually got rid of it – and they did so in style! After coming from behind in the opening set, they rallied to a comprehensive 3-0 victory (25-23, 25-14, 25-16) over Hungary to get proceedings underway in Pool A of the 2017 women’s EuroVolley. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev watched the game.
After a furious start by the home side, who were obviously extra motivated to please the 4,500+ crowd in attendance at the National Gymnastics Arena, Hungary rapidly found their rhythm to lead the way almost from the beginning to the end of the opening set. Azerbaijan’s reception looked a way too shaky for the hosts to be able to develop their game and this resulted in a five-point advantage for the visitors at the second technical time-out. However, Azerbaijan suddenly woke up and stormed back to 18-19 – after finally getting rid of the pressure they inevitably felt while making their debut at a historic EuroVolley on home soil. The hosts eventually levelled the score at 22-all, as the noise inside the hall was getting louder and louder. A crosscourt by Polina Rahimova flipped the charts around and Azerbaijan crowned their comeback with success as they cashed their second set ball (25-23).
After overcoming their initial troubles, Azerbaijan found their game and put on a real show in the second set. Rahimova looked almost unstoppable and Hungary could not do much to resist to the physical prowess of their opponents despite the loud cheers coming from a small group of Hungarian fans in attendance. Azerbaijan’s success in the second set was a pure formality – and it eventually turned into reality at 25-14 following another kill by Rahimova.
The early stages of the third set were far less one-sided with Azerbaijan leading by one point only at the first technical time-out. However, slowly but surely Azerbaijan opened a comfortable gap (17-12) and the home team’s show continued until Kseniya Poznyak sealed a 25-16 win passionately celebrated by a jubilant home crowd.
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