Novara, Italy. The Pool E began 1st Leg of the 4th Round at CEV Champions League Volley 2021 – Women with four teams competing over three days in Pala Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA. The hosting team Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA and the seven-time Polish champions Grupa Azoty Chemik POLICE claimed a comfortable first victories in Pool E, after beating Dinamo Ak-Bars KAZAN and VK UP OLOMOUC respectively. The strong service was one of the key elements that allowed the Italian side to start this round with a win. Consistent form of the setter allowed all of spikers from the Polish team to thrive and secure a victory on the first day.
Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA vs Dinamo Ak-Bars KAZAN 3-0 (25 – 19, 25 – 22, 25 – 13)
The Russian side began strong, but their lead has not lasted long when NOVARA went 21-16 ahead and won the first set 25-19. The second set was the most levelled between former Champions League winners, as both teams went head to head when two monster blocks sealed the deal for NOVARA at 25-22. KAZAN kept facing issues caused by solid service from their opponents. NOVARA kept the momentum throughout the third set, winning the last act 25-13.
- Britt Herbots was awarded MVP for her outstanding performance, including 10 points scored in the 1st set.
- NOVARA achieved their 5th consecutive victory in Champions League.
- It was the 2nd time in the club’s history that NOVARA matched a Russian team in their European campaigns. It was the first victory ever for NOVARA against a Russian side.
- NOVARA’s coach Stefano Lavarini and three of his players – Britt Herbots, Haleigh Washington and Sara Bonifacio – received a little payback against KAZAN. In the last season of CEV Cup, as a part of Busto Arsizio team, they suffered a 3-0 loss against the Russian stars.
Brit Herbots, outside spiker of Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA: “We did a really good job against one of the best teams in the world. We were aware that pushing our serve would have been crucial and that’s what we did and we are proud for having won such a tough game. Now we will keep focused, because we know that tomorrow we have another important game to play”.
Stefano Lavarini, coachof Igor Gorgonzola Novara head coach: “It was an amazing battle, I was sure we could play a good volleyball even against such a great opponent but of course this is the best possible start for our European campaigns. This is just a first step, we need more wins and more points to achieve a spot in the Playoffs and that is our goal”.
Olga Biryukova, outside spiker of Dinamo-Ak Bars Kazan spiker: “We were excited about getting back to playing Champions League game. We know that the level here is higher than in our national league and we are sorry we started with a loss. Tomorrow we will for sure give our best in order to do better”.
VK UP OLOMOUC vs Grupa Azoty Chemik POLICE 0-3 (18 – 25, 19 – 25, 18 – 25)
It was the second half of the set that allowed POLICE to establish a four-point lead that resulted in a 18-25 win. OLOMOUC kept one step ahead from the beginning of the second set, but the Polish side took the strong lead yet again, winning that part by six points. The game continued point by point in the first minutes of the set, but POLICE found their consistency to complete the match in three sets. The Polish setter Marlena Kowalewska was awarded MVP of the game, for having been able to play at the best with all of her attackers.
- It was a very special game for Jovana Brakocevic Canzian, who was playing in Pala Igor last season, defending Novara’s colours. Agnieszka Kakolewska is the only other player who has already played in this venue before, but as an opponent – in Casalmaggiore and Scandicci jerseys.
- The assistant coach PRZEMYS?AW KAWKA filled in as a head-coach for POLICE, as Ferhat Akbas was unable to travel to Novara.
- Jovana Brakocevic Canzian was the top scorer of the match with 16 points, followed by Lucie Nova who scored 15 points for OLOMOUC
- POLICE showed a collective effort, scoring 7 aces and 12 blocks. On the other side of the next OLOMOUC scored 4 points in each element
Marlena Kowalewska, setter of Grupa Azoty Chemik POLICE: “I am very proud of my team for having achieved a victory. We knew that this game would have been difficult and crucial for our European campaign. Tomorrow we have another difficult game, Kazan played a very tough and high level game today. We know it, but we are also confident about our chance to get a good result”.
Katerina Valkova, setter of VK UP OLOMOUC: “It was my first game ever in Champions League and of course I am excited about it. We are happy to be here, to be playing in the most prestigious European Cup and we know we can play better. Tomorrow we are facing another strong opponents who are coming from a wonderful victory. We will do our best and try to enjoy it, as we have nothing to loose”.