Vakifbank and Rabita to battle for European Champions League crown
Rabita Baku claimed the first ticket for Sunday’s gold medal game after a thrilling five-set thriller versus Italy’s Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio. The team of coach Marcello Abbondanza overpowered the Italian top club 3-2 (25-14, 25-16, 27-29, 19-25, 15-6). Player of the match was Rabita’s superstar Madelaynne Montaño with 43 points.
Rabita dominated the scene in set one and two before missing out on a couple of match balls in the third. That was the turning point of the game as Yamamay fought their way back and imposed their tempo also in the fourth set to call for the tie-break. However, Rabita Baku jumped out for a three-point lead in the fifth set, forcing Busto Arsizio coach Carlo Parisi to call an early time-out at 2-5. It didn’t help as the Azeri still put a lot of pressure on their opponents. At side switch, Baku already led by six points. It was a great demonstration that the ladies of coach Abbondanza showed at that time of the competition. Foluke Akinradewo brought up match point at 14:6 with a quick combination at the net, before Aurea Cruz served an ace to bounce the Azeri in heaven.
Mira Golubovic, team captain of Rabita Baku said: “We showed a great performance in the first and second sets. Yamamay fought back bravely, but luckily we kept cool in the deciding set”.
Coach Marcello Abbondanza added: “I’m obviously very happy, since August we are working for that goal. Compliments to my team, but also compliments to Busto Arsizio. The Italians showed their great fighting spirit tonight”.
Vakifbank Istanbul turned into the second team to book its gold medal match ticket as in front of 6,500 delighted supporters the team of coach Giovanni Guidetti defeated the local heroines from Galatasaray Daikin Istanbul in straight sets (28-26, 25-17, 25-21). Best scorer of the match was Vakifbank’s Serbian opposite Jovana Brakocevic with 21 points.
Gözde Sonsirma, team captain of Vakifbank Istanbul said: “It was a great match tonight with a great atmosphere. Luckily we managed to win the first set. That was the key moment of the game”.
Giovanni Guidetti, coach Vakifbank Istanbul: “Congratulations to my players, but also congratulations to Galatasaray. Massimo Barbolini showed once more that he is a great coach. He managed to prepare his team impeccably. It gave us a very hard time to win”.