Azerbaijan outlast Puerto Rico in five sets


Azerbaijan celebrate after the victory against Puerto Rico

Bari, Italy, September 25, 2014 – After a very balanced match, Azerbaijan beat Puerto Rico 3-2 on the third day of the FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship at PalaFlorio in Bari. The match was decided by the thrilling tiebreak (25-20, 24-26, 26-24, 15-26, 17-15).
Key points:
· Azerbaijan won their only previous World Championship meeting with Puerto Rico (3-0 in 2006).
· Puerto Rico are winless in all previous 13 meetings with CEV sides at the World Championship, taking only one set.
· Azerbaijan won on tiebreak against Japan in the first match on Tuesday.
· Aurea Cruz of Puerto Rico played in Italy for Joggins Altamura, an Apulian team on 2006-07.
· There were two opponent sisters' couples in the match: Oksana and Yelena Parkomenko for Azerbaijan, Sheila and Karina Ocasio for Puerto Rico.

Azerbaijan started aggressively to lead 7-3 thanks to efficient spikes from Bayramova, who scored 4 points in the first set for her team. Puerto Rico quickly came back with a spike from Morales to pull within 8-7. Again the Caucasian team enlarged the gap to 17-12 through two blocks of Ayshan Abdulazimova (12-7). After second TTO (10-16), The Carabeens tried to recover (13-16), but Gurbanova's services proved to be a constant danger for Puerto Rico (13-21) and she converted on the set point to clinch the first set for Azerbaijan at 25-20.


The second set was hotly contested. Chervyakov's team had an tiny advantage at the first technical timeout after a serving error by opponents. At the second TTO, Puerto Rico stayed within 16-15. The teams were back level at 24-all before Aurea Cruz earned a set-point at 25-24 and a block of Karina duly handed it to them 26-24.


Puerto Rico maintained the rhythm at the beginning of the third set till Azerbaijan came back with their proper blocking (7-3) and started to discipline their backline defence to advance to the first TTO 8-4. The Caribbean team came back with a block of Cruz (6-8) but the Caucasians scored successive points to reach 13-9. When Lynda Morales served, Azerbaijan had more difficulties and Puerto Rican team overtook the lead at STT (16-15). Kovalenko earned a set point with an ace 25-24 and Kurt's block ended the set (26-24). Rahimova scored eight points in this set.


Puerto Rico opened the fourth set in strong fashion (8-5) and increased the led at 11-6. Some attack errors forced coach Chervyakov to call timeout (17-10) but the Azerbaijanis had no answers to the solid game of their opponents (22-13). Cruz forced the match into a tie-break (25-16).

The Caucasians made terrific blocks on Puerto Rican spikers (4-1) at the beginning of the fifth set and increased their lead at the first TTO (8-4). But Puerto Rico did not give up (10-11) and earned a match-point with an error of Rahimova (15-14). But a brave Azerbaijan tied the score and won through thanks to a missed attack of Puerto Rico (17-15).
Polina Rahimova was the top scorer of the match (31 points), followed by Karina Ocasio (21) and Yarimar Rosa (20).


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