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23/09/2017 16:35
Ukraine’s rising star Stepaniuk predicts bright future for Volleyball in her country
2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Baku, Azerbaijan, September 23, 2017. The 24-year-old outside hitter Anna Stepaniuk is one of the players who have chiefly contributed to Ukraine’s success story in this year’s European League – and despite their consecutive 2-3 losses to Russia and Bulgaria, Stepaniuk and Ukraine have confirmed at the 2017 women’s EuroVolley that they are a true force to reckon with.

Stepaniuk helped Ukraine claim top honours in the 2017 edition of the European League – where she received the award for the Most Valuable Player of the home and away final matches with Finland. “Frankly speaking, we did not expect such a huge result, especially since this was only our first participation in the European League, even though we very much hoped to make it to the finals. Of course, that gold medal was quite a big thing for Ukrainian Volleyball and I just hope we will be able to participate more regularly in such international competitions in order to close the gap with the European and world elite of this sport,” Stepaniuk said.

Ukraine were close to causing a major sensation on Friday when they opened the programme of the 2017 women’s EuroVolley in Baku playing reigning European champions Russia. “We indeed played a very good game and we executed everything we had agreed upon with our coaching staff. We had a good preparation phase towards this tournament and you can see that from our results. We still have one match to play in our pool against Turkey – we will fight and we still hope to be able to make it to the knockout pause. The chances are there,” Stepaniuk added.

Anna is a young, talented, determined player and girl – and she somehow feels at home in Baku where she spent one season. “I like it very much here. I had a great time when playing with my club here in Baku, especially since the people are very warm and extremely welcoming, so I was pleased to come back to Baku for this tournament.”

Stepaniuk, despite being only 24, has already quite travelled the world, spending the last season in Jakarta, Indonesia. “Actually, this was not my plan initially, since I was due to play in Turkey but there were some problems with my club there and I somehow ended up in Indonesia. Even though most people are not aware of this, there is a competitive national league in that country, one of the best ones in Asia, consisting of seven teams, including three based in Jakarta. They have a quota of two foreign players per team – and I was one of those. It was a very cool experience, the people there are very nice and friendly and I do not rule it out that one day I will return to Indonesia and will play there once again. I am still young and want to enjoy life and Volleyball to the fullest.”

The Ukrainian rising star has not yet disclosed plans for her next competitive season, but she is definitely one of the assets Ukraine can rely on for the future development of their national team. “We just hope to keep this positive trend and to become regular participants of major international competitions, on the European as well as on the global stage,” she said.

If everything goes according to plan, Ukraine could one day try to repeat the success they achieved shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union – when they won their only #EuroVolley medal, bronze, in 1993.

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