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Dinamo Krasnodar win CEV Volleyball Cup in golden set

 
Sopot, Poland, April 11, 2015 – Dinamo Krasnodar triumphed 15-10 in a “golden set” following a 3-1 (26-24, 18-25, 26-24, 25-22), second-leg loss to home team PGE Atom Trefl Sopot to secure the 2015 CEV Volleyball Cup – Women title, their second European trophy, at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk-Sopot on Saturday.

Dinamo Krasnodar, anchored by Tatiana Kosheleva – who finished the match with 37 points and collected the Most Valuable Player award in the Finals – won in front of 6,000 fans who contributed to a great atmosphere at the venue.

It was Dinamo Krasnodar’s second attempt at winning Europe’s second most prestigious club competition since they lost a close final to Italy’s Chateau d’Ax Urbino in 2011. Dinamo Krasnodar added a second European Cup to their showcase when they claimed the title of the CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup. They also accounted for Russia’s third triumph in this year’s European Cups following Zenit Kazan’s victory at the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men finals in Berlin two weeks ago, and the golden-set win of Dinamo Moscow earlier in the evening in the final act of the men’s CEV Volleyball Cup.

“We were not in a comfortable situation after suffering such a heavy loss in Russia,” Atom Trefl captain Izabela Belcik said. “We had to control the score from the very start and it took us a lot of strength and energy.”

Atom Trefl were indeed determined to fight back from their 3-0 loss last April 7 in Russia but their opponents were off to a flying start leading by 5-1 in the opening set. Home mentor Lorenzo Micelli stopped the game but did not distract the Russian players who scored two straight points after the break. Liubov Shahskova was unstoppable, helping Dinamo Krasnodar move the score up 11-3. The host team’s assault perked up when Charlotte Leys, Zuzanna Efimienko and Katarzyna Zaroslinska trodded the Russian side’s defence to cut the deficit to within a point 14-13 after an ace by Falyn Fonoimoana.

Atom Trefl stabilised their defence and eventually levelled the score at 14-all. The teams jousted for the lead until Dinamo Krasnodar called for timeout at 20-19, which favoured Atom Trefl as the Russians started making mistakes. Atom Trefl got up by four points at 23-19 but was far from being over since Dinamo Krasnodar clawed back to tie the set at 23-all. Efimienko’ superb block and Fonoimoana’s fantastic kill closed the set for Atom Trefl 26-24.

The score remained close in the early stages of the second set with Zaroslinska and Kosheleva being the main scoring forces for Atom Trefl and Dinamo Krasnodar, respectively. Kosheleva continued to perform well and a block made it 9-4 for Dinamo Krasnodar. The Russian side seemed to have control in the set and extended their lead 14-7. Kosheleva was just on a class of her own as Atom Trefl could not find a way to stop her. As Dinamo Krasnodar’s defence faltered, the home team minimised the gap 18-15. Atom Trefl did not find a way out of this difficult situation and the set ended 25-18 in favour of the Russian armada.

The third set followed a similar plot with both teams fighting for each rally, although Dinamo Krasnodar only needed another set to secure their triumph in the competition. However, Atom Trefl found their best game with the help of Zarolinska and Klaudia Kaczorowska, with Leys and Brittnee Cooper also performing well. The Sopot-based squad got a narrow margin at the first technical timeout but widened the lead 11-8 after the break. The Russian club fought back 11-all but the home fans celebrated the Fonoimoana’s two spectacular attacks and Efimienko’s terrific block. Dinamo Krasnodar still managed to set the pace after the second technical timeout 18-16 and maintained it approaching the final stretch 21-19. Dinamo Krasnodar suddenly lost its focus that provided Atom Trefl with an opportunity to steal the set 26-24.

Atom Trefl were in a must-win situation in the fourth stanza to force a golden set. The score remained tight in the early stages before Dinamo Krasnodar edged ahead 12-10. Kosheleva and Shashkova were the main weapons for Dinamo Krasnodar, but Atom Trefl captain Belcik’s good serving game contributed to turn the score around with Sopot leading by two points at the second technical timeout. Kaczorow ska continued to perform well at blocking, and with two aces, she propelled the home side to lead 20-17. Atom Trefl continued to deliver and even Dinamo Krasnodar’s late comeback to survive two match balls did not stop the home team from claiming the set and match 25-23.

In the golden set, Anna Barbara Miros (Podolec) set the pace for Atom Trefl. Kosheleva responded for Dinamo Krasnodar, forcing Micelli to call for a timeout as his side trailed 5-3. Dinamo Krasnodar showed determination and earned points made by Shashkova and Marina Maryukhnich to extend the lead 10-5. Sopot managed to cut the lead 10-8 and a closer gap 11-10. However, the final rallies favoured the visiting side as their blocks and spikes overpowered Atom Trefl that ended the golden set 15-10.

“I am extremely satisfied with the win,” Dinamo Krasnodar mentor Konstantin Ushakov said. “It was a great match – a true display of top volleyball and a great performance for the audience. I am happy that I saw both sides fight. I am even happier that we could be just a little bit better than the hosts in the end.”

“Dinamo Krasnodar have truly a lot of players who can come to the court and make a difference,” Atom Trefl coach Micelli said. “It is truly a professional volleyball team. We lost, but honestly, when I started working with this team in May last year, I could only dream of making the CEV Cup finals. We lost but we are not losers in the end. We lost only at the golden and it is a great achievement for me as a coach and for the whole team as well.”

Dinamo Krasnodar will look to extend its title conquest when they play in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship from May 6 to 10 in Zurich, Switzerland. The CEV Volleyball Cup winners are qualified as a wild card in the upcoming edition of the Women’s Club World Championship.

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