‘Loko girls’ rush to second home win upsetting German rookies

Baku, November 25, AZERTAC

Azerbaijan’s Lokomotiv Baku claimed on Wednesday afternoon their second consecutive victory in Pool A of the 2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women and they did so by routing Germany’s rookies Allianz MTV Stuttgart in three straight sets (25-18, 25-17, 25-18). Waiting for the result of the matchup starring Russia’s Dinamo KAZAN and Azerrail BAKU coming up on Thursday, Lokomotiv cemented their second place in the pool, thereby setting their sight also on qualification for the Playoffs of Europe’s elite competition.

The early stages of the opening set were a close race with the teams completing their side out and Lokomotiv edging ahead at the first technical time-out (8:7). After the break, the hosts changed gear and their Czech star Aneta Havlickova scored time and again, while Berit Kauffeldt did not leave almost any chance to the opponents with her mighty blocks. Lokomotiv made it 19:11 in their favour but Stuttgart fought back to cut their deficit down to four points at 19:15. After that, the local heroines got back on track and a spike by Aleksandra Crncevic moved the score to 21:19 before another personal show by Havlickova helped Lokomotiv seal the deal at 25-18.

After another close start, Lokomotiv claimed an early lead (8:5) in the second set. Once the actions resumed after the first technical time-out, Lokomotiv and Stuttgart played with a lot of intensity trying to get the edge over the opponent. Though Deborah van Daelen scored a few points for the Germans, this could not prevent Stuttgart from going down 11:16 at the second technical break. Lokomotiv, on the other hand, showed no mercy for their opponent and the trio consisting of Havlickova, Kauffeldt and Crncevic kept on scoring with impressive consistency, moving the charts to 22:15. Guillermo Naranjo, coach of Allianz MTV, took another break but his side just could not stand the power displayed by Lokomotiv and the home team ended the set with a comfortable 25-17 win.

Lokomotiv Baku started out strong also in the third set and even though Stuttgart tried to keep their pace, the players from Azerbaijan edged ahead by two points at the first technical time-out. The Spanish-born mentor of the German team stopped the game once more as his side trailed 12:7 but this did not help much. Lokomotiv continued their show and broke away making it 16:8 at the second technical time-out, a gap that the Germans could no longer compensate for. Havlickova, Kauffeldt and Crncevic continued to perform their best to make it 20:11 but towards the end of the set Lokomotiv suffered a drop of concentration, this way paving the way for a late comeback by Stuttgart (22:16). At this point Francois Salvagni, the Italian coach of Lokomotiv, asked for a time-out and after that everything went just fine for Lokomotiv as they brought the match to an end at 25-18.

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