Marina Storozhenko and her teammates received lots of calls from Kazakhstan to celebrate their record qualification
Verona, Italy, 30 September, 2014 – The evening Kazakhstan beat Thailand to proceed to the second round of the FIVB Women’s World Championship was not just a record for the national women's volleyball, which had never gone past the 17th position at a World Championship. It was also a major historic achievement for Kazakhstan’s team sports.
“It was a really big thing for us, because you know in Kazakhstan no one team in any (Olympic) sport, either men or women, had ever reached the second round at a world championship before,” libero Marina Storozhenko said.
When the referee blew the whistle to close the match at PalaOlimpia on Sunday, celebrations started in Kazakhstan. “We had celebrations from home, everybody was writing and calling us, our families and friends from school, even our teachers. Everyone was watching the TV and reading the news. It was so exciting for us, everybody congratulated and went ‘great, great job’.”
The Asian players could not contain their joy, Storozhenko said. “We felt so happy and we were all smiling, cause it feels it was a hard way to get here. We did this hard way, we prepared and we didn’t even think that we would really get here. We just thought we would fight and believed that if everything go well we would make it. And we did. We felt somehow relieved after that match, because we knew that we had made this step and that everything went like we had planned.”
“How we did this - it’s hard to say in one word, lots of things helped us, techniques, mind, heart, all the girls working hard by themselves and all together, and coaches. Everyone did right and that’s why everything went well.”
Oleksandr Gutor, Kazakshtan coach from Ukraine, said the achievement was a “big step ahead”, which showed that the team could reach even further. “We are happy and Kazakhstan people are happy too. Now the next step is to develop our players better and better. I hope people will understand that if we can do this, then we can do even better.”
The plan for the Asian team coming to the World Championship was to qualify for the second round, Gutor stressed. “We did a good job and I’m really satisfied and grateful to all the players and sponsors who made this possible. We’ll do our best against the strongest teams now. I wake up in the morning and don’t know what will happen.”
The players know they are now off to harder challenges, Storozhenko said. “We already realised that we have to start a new work now, we must work very hard one more time, thinking about what we will do on the court. The game against Brazil will be very hard, we are studying the statistics and we are very eager to play them.”
In their first match in Pool F in Verona on Wednesday, Kazakhstan will focus on blocking and serving. “We need very good blocking, because Brazil attack is very good in the middle of the net – it’s very high, fast and strong. We need block and we need good service. If they receive badly, some combinations will not work properly and maybe our block will be easier to organise effectively,” Storozhenko added.