Euro League Rookies Finland, Ukraine Take Semifinal Leads

CEV European League – Women

  • June 27-30, 2017
  • Poprad, Slovakia; Ivano Frankivsk, Ukriane

 

Semifinals Round 1

Finland 3, Slovakia 2 (25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-12)

Ukraine 3, Spain 1 (25-19, 25-21, 24-26, 25-21)

 

It was a day for the Euro League rookies as first timers Finland and Ukraine gained the upper hand on their respective foes in the first round of the semifinals Wednesday. The rematches will be played on Sunday to determine the finalists.

The second round of the semifinals will take place in Helsinki, Finland, and Guadalajara, Spain, respectively.

 

Finland 3, Slovakia 2

Finland upset the 2016 European silver medalists with help from 15 blocks and seven aces in Poprad, Slovakia on Wednesday. Finland outblocked Slovakia 15-12 and outserved them 7-4 in a match decided by just two points. A lopsided Set 2 accounted for much of a 65-55 lead in kills and two-point lead in final point tally for the veteran Slovakians.

Finland stole away Set 1, despite trailing 22-20 to the home side. Slovakia rebounded with a 25-15 drubbing, issuing Finland its first set loss after six straight sweeps. Down 2-1 in the match after another steady Slovakian effort in Set 3, Finland rebounded with a 25-17 victory in Set 4 and a 15-12 win in the decisive fifth set.

“This victory is important, but it was only a first step,” Finland coach Tapio Kangasniemi said. “We can play better than we did here, but we are satisfied. It was a tough game, Slovakia played well, and they did so especially in defence and with their service. Our team is mentally strong, and I think we showed that after losing the third set. We changed our tactics in attack and it was the key to our victory.”

Piia Korhonen racked up 24 points, including 21 kills and three blocks, to pace the Finnish attack and lead all scorers. Noora Kosonen (20) and Daniela Ohman (11) also scored in double digits. Kosonon managed 16 kills, two blocks and two aces, while Ohman managed a team-best four blocks and two aces.

Nina Herelova led Slovakia with 20 points, while Dominika Drobnakova (15), Michaela Abmova (15) and Karin Sunderlikova (13) followed. Herelova downed 15 kills and added a team-best four blocks, while Drobnakova (12), Abrhamova (12) and Sunderlikova (11) also chipped in double-digit kill tallies.

“We are disappointed, because I think that we could win this game,” Drobnakova said. “After three sets we started to make a lot of errors and it was important towards Finland’s comeback. The Finnish players showed that they are real fighters, but we will not give up either.”

 

Ukraine 3, Spain 1

After sweeping through six matches of pool play, Ukraine continued to excel in its first Euro League action, posting a four-set win over Spain. A 50 percent hitting efficiency and fifteen blocks aided the Ukrainians in the victory in Ivano Frankivsk, Ukriane.

Spain led through the midway point of Set 1, but Ukraine dominated the latter half in a 25-19 win. The Ukrainians then cruised to a 25-21 Set 2 win with help from four blocks. Spain took an early 5-0 lead in Set 3 and held off the Ukrainians in a back and forth battle extend the match. The Ukrainian trio of Iryna Trushkina, Nadiia Kodola and Karyna Denysova combined to lift the team to a 25-21 wire to wire Set 4 win and the victory.

Ukraine won the blocking battle 15-6 and racked up 59 kills (to 47) to make up the difference in aces (8-4) and cover its 26 errors.

Kodola tallied a match-high 20 point, all on kills, while Denysova and Anna Stepaniuk added 16 points apiece. Stepaniuk added three blocks and two aces, while Denysova managed 14 kills and two blocks. Svitlana Dorsman added 11 points, including a match-high four blocks.

Four Spanish players registered double-digit scoring performances led by Helia Gonzalez’s 15. Maria Segura (13), Milagros Collar (12) and Jessica Rivero (12) followed. Gonzelez and Segura tallied 12 kills apiece, while Collar added eight kills and three blocks.

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