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Beach Volleyball

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VakifBank and Volero to cross ways for first ever Gloria Cup
Belek, Turkey, January 5, 2015.  All eyes are on Volero ZURICH and VakifBank ISTANBUL as they play for the gold medal at the inaugural Gloria Cup invitational tournament in Belek after a big Volero’s big 3:1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19) victory over Azeryol BAKU  and VakifBank’s 3:0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-22) sweep against Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR on Sunday.

There was a lot to look forward to on the second day of the competition.  The very first game of the day was very promising, as multiple Swiss champions Volero faced Azerbaijan’s league leaders from Azeryol with both teams needing to win to keep alive their hopes for the trophy.

As expected, the two teams did not need any warm-up time in the opening set.  The spectators could just enjoy volleyball at its finest from the very beginning of the game.  Volero’s coach trusted in the big variation of his team – and it did not disappoint.  Setter Courtney Thompson, gold medallist of the 2014 FIVB Women’s World Championship in Italy, could take advantage of a wide range of passing lanes in her offensive game; at the very end of this tight and exciting set, this advantage made the difference - and Volero clinched the opening set of the game by 25-23.  In the second set, however, the Swiss were not able to keep the pace of the first one.  Dragutin Baltic’s players committed too many unforced errors.  Azeryol, on the other hand, put an enormous pressure on Volero with their overwhelming attacking game, which was the key to a 25-22 win in the second set.  Volero’s coach Dragutin Baltic appealed to his players’ conscience; the Slovene wanted them to return to their well-focused game of the first set.  His players listened to his words and reduced their mistakes.  The game remained tied until 14-14 on the scoreboard, when Volero suddenly forced the pace: the Swiss went on a 4-0 run and eventually decided the set by 25-18.  Azeryol just gaped in astonishment and the Azerbaijanis did not really find a way back into the game.  Volero outplayed the opponent with an incredible coolness in the offensive game and an almost unbreakable blocking game.  As a consequence Volero claimed the fourth set by 25-19 and the victory by 3:1 to remain in the race for the first place at the Gloria Cup.

In the second game on Sunday, the Turkish champions and cup winners of VakifBank wanted to keep a clean sheet against the youngsters of Nova KBM Branik and the 2014 CEV DenizBank Champions League silver medallists did not disappoint their supporters on the stands.  The team from the Bosporus rolled over the Slovenians in the first set as Akman Kubra and her teammates were unstoppable in their attacking game.  This huge offensive power resulted in a clear 25-11.   Nova KBM Branik, however, kept their chins up and Iza Mlakar brought them back into the game with some incredible plays. The Slovenian national team player contributed impressive eight points, nevertheless, VakifBank could still count on middle blocker Bahar Toksoy-Guidetti.  The Turkish squad outplayed the Slovenian team at the very end of the set and captured it by 25-20.   In the third set the game remained tight.  The Slovenian youngsters proved that they could keep up with the pace of one of Europe’s strongest teams. The team of Maribor put the prominent opponents under pressure, but VakifBank’s players did not lose their nerves.  Gulden Onal Pasaoglu ended the game with a hammer for the final score of 25-22 in the third set and secured VakifBank the leading position before the final day after this straight-set victory.

Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of VakifBank:  “Volero are really strong in their attacking and blocking game.  We, on the other hand, have a big variety in our game.  I can trust in all my players, not only the starting seven.  That is our biggest quality and can make the difference on Monday.”

Jan Lindenmair, assistant coach of Volero:  “We played against Azeryol one of our best matches of the whole season.  We are already looking forward to Monday’s big gold medal game.  VakifBank is one of the best teams in the world and facing them here, in Turkey, will be amazing, as there will be full stands and an amazing atmosphere.”
DSC may become tired of playing, but not tired of winning
Dresden, Germany, January 5, 2015.  DRESDNER SC is currently dominating the German women’s volleyball league with a record of 13 wins and 0 losses.  Their latest success was in a thrilling five-set battle against another team with a long winning streak, Allianz MTV STUTTGART.  Will the German champions be able to carry that flow over to their next match of the 2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League, when they have to face Unendo Yamamay BUSTO ARSIZIO on January 14?  Until now, Unendo Yamamay is one of only two teams that managed to beat the team of head coach Alexander Waibl this season.  The coach spoke to one of the most important newspapers in Saxony about DSC’s winning streak, the decisive edge and the weeks with midweek matches.

Good or bad luck: what does the number 13 mean to you?

Waibl:  I think it is a lucky number, but I am not superstitious about numbers.  Still, the victory over Allianz MTV was an important step towards the best possible position for the playoffs.  The team from Stuttgart was on an 8-match winning streak and super motivated to face us in front of their home crowd.  They had the opportunity to narrow the gap between us.  However, we managed to avoid that.

But the outcome of the game was not decided until the tie-breaker.  25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 12-25, 15-4 sounds close…

Waibl:  Neither team was able to pull away during the first three sets.  It was always very close.  In the fourth set, however, we lost the thread and focused on the tie-breaker.  We did not perform as well as we did against WIESBADEN or SCHWERINER, but that is also due to the great performance of Allianz MTV.

What determines the outcome of such close matches?

Waibl:  It is important to always have some answers and never give up.  You can see that our team wants to win every single match and does not yield a possible loss.  I really value this desire to win and to overcome the inner daemons in difficult situations.  We stepped up in the fifth set and turned the match.  You do not see something like an 11-1 score in a tie-breaker set every day.  That is for sure.

Do you think it might become boring for your fans when the winning streak continues like that?

Waibl:  Definitely not!  Our fans come to see us play.  Also, there are many games to come.  If you lose one or two times, the others are able to close the gap.  Let us take this week for example.  POTSDAM is an unpleasant opponent.  They are one of the teams against whom we had to go to a tie-breaker during the first half of the season.  After that we head to Vilsbiburg.  And we know that this can go wrong [N.B.: DRESDNER SC lost against Rote Raben VILSBIBURG for the German Cup after they were already two sets ahead].  Next is the week with two Champions League matches, where we will face Unendo Yamamay BUSTO ARSIZIO and LP SALO at Margon Arena.  So our fans definitely have some exciting matches to look forward to.

Could your team become tired of success in the day-to-day life?

Waibl:  No, indeed not.  But getting tired because of the heavy schedule is a problem.  In January, we are playing eight matches again.  That is quite a lot.  So it is important to set the right priorities.  We should not mind to lose a game when we have to rotate a bit.  That is not because of the quality of single players, but when you change something on a working constellation, it can always become difficult.
Danish teams sweep top honours at Novotel Cup
Luxembourg, January 4, 2015. Denmark’s Volleyball family got something to celebrate right at the beginning of the New Year as their national teams completed a clean sweep of the top honours at the annual Novotel Cup that came to an end on Sunday at d’Coque in Luxembourg City. Even though the home teams from the Grand Duchy were still in contention for gold going into the last round of matches, Denmark’s men upset a raucous home crowd cruising to a 3:2 victory in the match that rounded out the competition on Sunday night (23-25, 27-25, 25-20, 20-25, 15-12). The ladies from Denmark – actually the U19 squad – finished the tournament with a perfect record of three wins in as many matches sweeping aside Liechtenstein in their last game on Sunday. The home teams of Luxembourg had to be content with silver, with the podium completed by Norway and Liechtenstein in the men’s and women’s competition, respectively.

Luxembourg and Denmark entered the ‘big final’ of the Novotel Cup as the only teams with a perfect record of three wins in as many matches played that far. Kamil Rychlicki paced the home team on their way to a 25-23 win in the first set before the local heroes missed out on a set ball and Denmark did not lose the opportunity to cash the second set by 27-25. Luxembourg could not recover that easily from this setback and Denmark quickly cruised to a 16:8 lead in the third set. Even though Arnaud Maroldt, Gilles Braas and Chris Zuidberg finally found their way back into the game, it was nevertheless too late to stop Denmark and prevent them from winning the set by 25-20. Ralf Lentz and Tim Laevaert replaced Zuidberg and Petko Tunchev in set four, this way helping Luxembourg cruise to a 25-20 set win that called for the tie-break. That was the real climax of an already fabulous tournament and it was played before a sell-out enthusiastic crowd. The fans were hoping their heroes would lift the trophy of the Novotel Cup for the first time in history but some unforced errors by the home team paved the way for an 8:4 lead for Denmark. Maroldt and Rychlicki were able to cut their deficit to one point at 8:9, but the Danes kept cool and did not look back anymore up to the final 15-12. This way Denmark won the Novotel Cup for the second time after doing so also in 2009 whilst Luxembourg had to be content with silver for the seventh consecutive edition of this tournament.

Denmark’s U19 national team completed a clean sweep of their matches in the women’s tournament recording a 3:1 victory over Liechtenstein (25-18, 25-14, 19-25, 25-14) and at this stage the hopes of the home heroines to win gold had already vanished. Denmark won the annual Novotel Cup for the first time in history since its inception back in 1987. The ‘Lionesses’ were nevertheless able to keep their focus and claim an extremely close match with Iceland by 3:2 (23-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22, 15-13) coming back strong from two sets down to finish the tournament in second place. The players of Luxembourg were able to regroup after a shaky start and the turning point came once Michèle Breuer joined actions in the third set and after five consecutive serves by Cindy Schneider halfway through that section of the game. After securing the silver medal by winning set three and four, Luxembourg kept on rolling leading by 8:4 and 13:8 in the tie-break before they could start their celebrations (15-13) following their second victory in the tournament.  

Final standings


1.    Denmark
2.    Luxembourg
3.    Norway
4.    Switzerland
5.    Iceland


1.    Denmark
2.    Luxembourg
3.    Liechtenstein
4.    Iceland

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