Minchanka poised to play world’s best team in Champions League 3rd Round
Minsk, Belarus, November 4, 2017. After recording two 3-2 victories over Rocheville LE CANNET of France, the players of Minchanka MINSK will be contesting the most challenging matches in their careers so far when taking to the court next week for the 3rd Round of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Women. They indeed play Turkey’s VakifBank ISTANBUL – a star-studded opponent, which claimed the Champions League crown in 2011, 2013 and 2017. On top of this, VakifBank are the reigning club world champions following their success at this year’s global event held in Kobe, Japan.
There is much anticipation in Minsk – among fans and media alike – around this match due to VakifBank, the world’s best team, travelling to Belarus. The organisers expect some 3,000 fans to find their way to ‘Uruchje’ sports hall – which back in October hosted the 2nd Round home fixtures of Minchanka and Shakhtior SOLIGORSK, the Belarusian representative in the men’s Champions League.
- Minchanka MINSK are making their second straight appearance in the CEV Volleyball Champions League. Last year, the Belarusian national champions progressed to the 3rd Round as well after two closely contested matches with Finland’s HPK HÄMEENLINNA. They eventually lost to Turkey’s Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL, who at the time were the reigning club world champions as well.
- Minchanka have significantly strengthened their roster since last season – with the addition of middle blocker Anzhelika Barysevich, setter Volha Palcheuskaya and outside hitter Nadzeya Smirnova. Even though these three players are making their CL debut this season, they have a wealth of experience on the international stage. Together with team captain Aksana Kavalchuk and libero Alena Fedarynchyk, they helped Belarus achieve a historic seventh place at this year’s EuroVolley in Azerbaijan and Georgia.
- The roster of Minchanka includes only Belarusian players – with the youngest one being 17-year-old Hanna Hryshkevich and the most experienced being team captain Kavalchuk.
- Minchanka won the last edition of the Belarusian national league and national cup as well.
- VakifBank claimed Turkey’s first-ever Champions League crown in 2011 and repeated that same success in 2013 and 2017. Their resume includes silver medals from the 2014 and 2016 editions and a bronze medal they won in 2015 in Szczecin, Poland.
- VakifBank are multiple winners of the Turkish national league and two-time club world champions (2013, 2017).
Viktar Hancharou, head coach of Minchanka MINSK, who previously coach the Belarusian national team as well: “The main challenge while preparing for the matchups with VakifBank is that we are struggling to find in our national league a rival, which could provide some serious opposition, let alone play at a level close to that of VakifBank. You simply cannot compare our national championship with their national league and as a result, it is difficult for us to work on the details. There is no opponent in Belarus whose block is as outstanding as VakifBank’s, for instance. These are the most demanding challenges I see ahead of the matches with the Turkish team.”
Aksana Kavalchuk, team captain of Minchanka: “Our next opponent is an extremely challenging one, since we are talking about one of the strongest teams in Europe. However, this makes it even more interesting for us to go out and fight for every ball, for every point. Our team is good enough; all the players are professionals, so every member is eager to put up an effort. However, the most important thing is that we share the same desire to fight and win!
“As far as my role in such an important match is concerned, yes, in the game there are moments when you need to support, to encourage the girls who have less experience... However, I know that besides me, there are other players, who are always ready to step in and help, with their words and actions! I have a lot of trust in my team. This season we have a very good roster, which is capable of displaying high-quality Volleyball. We reviewed some of the matches played by VakifBank, but a more thorough analysis is still to come. We shall try to use their weaknesses to our advantage and to show our strongest side. I hope that on Tuesday we will be able to please our fans by playing good Volleyball!”
After the matchup in Minsk on Tuesday, the return will take place on Saturday, November 11 in Istanbul. The eventual winners will progress to the group stage of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – and the losers will continue their journey in the Round of 16 of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Cup.
Information by cev.lu