Azerbaijan's Azerrail wins Challenge Cup

Mon 04 April 2011 04:27 GMT | 09:27 Local Time

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The Challenge Cup final match between Azerbaijani Azerrail and Locomotive was held at the Sarhadchi Olympic Sport Complex in Baku.

Azerrail claimed this afternoon the 2011 GM Capital Challenge Cup by defeating for the second time in only a few days the compatriots and archrivals of Lokomotiv in four sets (30-28, 22-25, 25-13, 25-17). This is the second European trophy in history for Azerrail after 9 years ago the club from Azerbaijan’s capital city had topped the standings of the Top Teams Cup.

Since they were supposed to win this return game to eventually go for the golden set, the girls of Lokomotiv set the tempo in the opening set, by moving up 8:5 at the first technical break. However, Azerrail was able to storm back and the team mentored by Vugar Aliyev eventually clipped the provisional 1:0 after an almost never ending final rush. Lokomotiv was not yet ready to abandon all ambitions: after the first technical time-out, they played with real confidence, went up 16:11 and although Azerrail was able to cut the gap to almost draw the count (22:21), Lokomotiv stamped the final 25-22 on the scoreboard.

However, that was the last moment where Lokomotiv could show some real control of the game: Azerrail stepped up once again and quite easily pocketed set 3 and 4 to receive the trophy of the 2011 GM Capital Challenge Cup directly from Azerbaijan’s Head of State, Mr. Ilham Aliyev.

Azerrail libero Valeriya Korotenko was voted MVP of the final game while raising star Polina Rahimova topped the charts of the best scorers with 22 points, well supported by Brazilian Elisangela Pereira De Souza (19) and captain Natalia Hanikoglu (15). US American Nancy Jean Metcalf contributed a total of 21 points to the count of Lokomotiv.

The coach of Azerrail, Vugar Aliyev, commented after the final: “Although we had won the first match this past Tuesday, we still had to score another win to claim the trophy. As I was preparing this return game with my girls, I was always telling them that we could not afford a defeat as this would have meant the additional and risky golden set was going to be played. My girls promised to stick to this attitude and they lived up to my expectations. Of course I am very happy that we won and my gratitude goes to all players who have contributed to this success. These matches were an excellent advert for Volleyball here in Azerbaijan and I am sure that more and more kids will join our sport in the near future”.

On the other side, the mentor of Lokomotiv, Dragutin Baltic, stated: “The team was focused and we were very close to pocket the opening set. After we won the second set, I felt like this was going to be turning point of the match but it was not enough, especially as we started making too many mistakes in reception. Of course, I always want to reach the maximum and I cannot be totally satisfied with this second place, but we lost to a very good opponent”.

President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva seen the Challenge Cup final between Azerrail and Lokomotiv.

Head of State congratulated the best player of the game, member of Azerrail Valeriya Korotenko.  President Ilham Aliyev presented the Challenge Cup to Azerrail and congratulated them over the victory.

Azerbaijan`s first lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, MP Mehriban Aliyeva also congratulated members of Azerrail. Vice-president of the Azerbaijan Volleyball Federation and coach of the Azerbaijan women`s national volleyball team Faig Garayev handed over the gold medals to players of Azerrail.

President of Azerbaijan and President of the National Olympic Committee Ilham Aliyev has been awarded the European Volleyball Confederation`s cup for his special contribution to developing volleyball in Azerbaijan. Vice-President of the European Volleyball Confederation Mrs. Banu Can Schurmann presented the cup to the Head of State.

After the ceremony President Ilham Aliyev, his spouse Mehriban Aliyev and players of Azerrail posed for photographs.

Elmir Aliyev

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