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19/02/2015 23:25
Volero outplay arch-rivals RC CANNES, claim ticket to Playoffs 6
2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Women

Zurich, Switzerland, February 19, 2015. Switzerland’s Volero ZÜRICH claimed on Thursday also the return match with France’s RC CANNES, this time by 3:1 (25-14, 25-20, 25-27, 27-25) to get the right to challenge Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL in the Playoffs 6 of the 2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women. Olesia Rykhliuk top scored once more for Volero with 20 points whilst two legendary Volleyball players, Victoria Ravva and Logan Tom, recorded 15 each for RC CANNES in their losing effort.

Everything was set for the next chapter of a long-lasting rivalry: after Volero’s thrilling 3-2 victory on the French Riviera, all Volleyball fans could look forward to a big rematch in Zurich – even more since two players on the roster of RC CANNES were returning back to Switzerland’s largest city. Outside spiker Logan Tom and middle blocker Nneka Onyejekwe had indeed previously played for the Swiss champions, but were determined to dash Volero’s dreams of making the Final Four tournament of Europe’s elite competition.

The hosts, however, extended their momentum from the big away victory claimed in Cannes last week to the game they were set to play in front of their home crowd and delighted their supporters with an overwhelming offensive power as setter Courtney Thompson and her spikers found gaps in the French defensive game and showed no mercy for their opponents. Dobriana Rabadzhieva’s and Nadja Ninkovic’s hammers resulted in a massive 25-14 opening set win for Volero.

RC CANNES wanted to fight their way back into the game in the second set; the multiple French champions made a big effort – the Swiss hosts, however, outplayed them with as many as eight blocks and clinched the second set by 25-20. Volero’s 1,500 delighted supporters barracked for their team.

At this stage RC CANNES had to win the third set if they wanted to keep their dreams of making the Playoffs 6 alive. Their head coach Yan Fang wanted his mentees to fight their way back into the game – and his players didn’t give in. The multiple French champs were able to take the lead at 19:17 before youngster Alexandra Lazic and team captain Victoria Ravva got the first set point for their side. One of the most experienced players performing at Saalsporthalle, Logan Tom, eventually put an end to a dramatic third set with a sharp smash for the final 27-25 for the visitors.  

Despite this setback, the Swiss hosts took back the reins of the game in the fourth set: Serbian national player Nadja Ninkovic and her teammates overpowered the French defensive game and led by 16:13 at the second technical time-out. However, in such important stage of the game, the multiple Swiss champions started to struggle. RC CANNES, on the other hand, needed no second invitation and forced the turnaround to 19:17 – Volero, however, could still count on Nadja Ninkovic: the Serbian player brought the Swiss back into the game; and Olesia Rykhliuk sent the 1,500 spectators in attendance into euphoria with the hammer that made it 27-25 and sealed a 3:1 victory for the home side.

A big rematch awaits now Volero in the Playoffs 6 where the Swiss will face Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL. Dragutin Baltic’s players know the Turkish side from the group stage where the two teams played two exciting games, each recording an away victory and losing at home.

Volero’s assistant coach Jan Lindenmair said after the game with RC CANNES: “We were able to start with the same pace like in Cannes last week and our game plan worked out just fine in the first two sets. Nevertheless, we started to struggle in the third and RC CANNES immediately seized their chance. Now we want to focus on our next opponent Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL. We know that it will be a big challenge for us, but we are confident that we can make it to the finals.”

Volero’s team captain Courtney Thompson commented: “It was an incredible first set. My strikers did an amazing job – just a dream for a setter. Furthermore, we could count on our blocking game today; I think this was the key. Now it’s time to prepare for the big challenge versus Eczacibasi VitrA. We are ready for them.”

RC CANNES coach Yan Fang: “It wasn’t easy to prepare our team after the loss we suffered in Cannes since we weren’t able to play our game and missed out on a big chance to win in front of our home crowd. I think we played better today than last week. We didn’t start well, but we didn’t give in. Nevertheless, little details eventually resulted in today’s defeat.”

RC CANNES outside spiker Alexandra Lazic concluded: “We knew we had to improve after the game from last week. We wanted to do better and did so, but weren’t able to score the important points, which made the difference today.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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20/02/2015 00:15:00
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19/02/2015 22:48:00
PGE Skra BELCHATOW claim last spot in Playoffs 6 in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,000 fans
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