Trieste, Italy, October 4, 2014 - In front of 3,800 thrilled spectators at PalaTrieste, Azerbaijan claimed their second victory in Pool E by defeating Croatia 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-23) on the third day of the second round at 2014 FIVB Women’s World Championship 2014 on Saturday evening.
• This was the first encounter between these two sides at the World Championship after they met three times at the European Championship.
• Azerbaijan won the first two encounters; 3-0 in 2005 and 3-1 in 2011. Croatia won 3-0 in 2013 but lost again today 1-3.
• After eight legs, Azerbaijan’s Polina Rahimova remains the tournament's top scorer with impressive 210 points.
Top scorer of the match was Polina Rahimova with 36 points, followed by her teammate Katerina Zhidkova with 17 points. Samanta Fabris and Senna Usic Jogunica scored 14 points each for Croatia.
After a day off, Croatia jumped out for an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout. Neither team were giving way with Polina Rahimova gaining two important points trying to keep Azerbaijan in the set. At the second technical timeout, Croatia still led 16-14. With Bernarda Brcic on serve, Croatia shot into 18-14. However, two aces from Odina Bayramova shortened the gap to two points at 18-16. At 22-21, Aleksandr Chervyakov sent in Natavan Gasimova for service, but it had no effect. Croatia kept calm and cruised to a hard-earned 25-23 set win.
The second set started quite balanced before Azerbaijan took a first lead, forcing Croatia’s coach Angelo Vercesi to call an early timeout at 3-6. Sanja Popovic’s ace helped Croatia to turn the tables until the second technical break but Katerina Zhidkova answered with some blistering spikes to turn around the score again at 22-20. The set balanced on a knife’s edge until 23-23. Top scorer Rahimova stayed cool and drew level 1-1.
Another battle began in the third set with Azerbaijan taking an early 8-2 lead at the first technical timeout. It seemed to be a different game now with Rahimova firing wild to make it 15-7 for the Azeri. The Croatians did their best to resist but could not stop Azerbaijan cruising to an easy 25-13 third set win.
Croatia pulled themselves together in the fourth set to offer their fans another great spectacle. The Vercesi squad led 15-13, but Azerbaijan answered with three consecutive points to make it 16-15 in their favor. It remained a close affair until 22-22. Rahimova – again – proved her strength with another outstanding performance to end the set 25-23 and the match 3-1 for Azerbaijan.