Spring 2002 (10.1)
Azerbaijan Women Win European Cup in Volleyball
The "AzerRail" Azerbaijani
women's volleyball team won the European Top Teams Cup at a competition
held in Baku on March 9-10, 2002. Azerbaijan defeated Poland
in the semifinals 3:0, advancing to the finals to beat Yugoslavia
Left: A hard spike from Azerbaijan's team
slips through the opponent's block.
According to captain Alla Hasanova, one of the team's most difficult
matches in the competition was against an earlier opponent, Belgrade.
"I think that their team was one of the strongest,"
she said. "We didn't expect to have such an easy time beating
Poland and Yugoslavia.
"When we made it to the quarterfinals, we knew that the
finals would be held in Baku," she added. "And it would
have been a tragedy for us and for the entire nation to compete
in the finals in our hometown and lose.
"This is our team's first victory in such a prestigious
championship. In May 2002, we took third place in a Spring Cup
that is held every year, which is like an unofficial European
championship. But this is our biggest success to date. Many of
the other teams and coaches were surprised to see us come out
Left: Azerbaijan's "AzerRail" women's volleyball
team and their fans celebrate their capture of the European Cup
in Baku on March 10, 2002.
Even more surprising
is the fact that Azerbaijan's team has only been competing in
the international arena for less than a year. Prior to competing
for Azerbaijan, some of the team's more senior players, including
Hasanova, had contracts to play in various clubs in Turkey.
The "AzerRail" team consists of 12 players. Only six
can play at once, with a seventh designated as a "libero",
a specialized defense player. Faig Garayev serves as the head
Left: Team captain Alla Hasanova, No. 3, confers with
the rest of the AzerRail squad. Azerbaijan defeated Poland and
Yugoslavia to win the European Cup.
The team practices at
least five to six hours each day, Hasanova says. "We do
running, weight training and other types of physical training.
Volleyball is such an athletic sport that it's impossible to
get good results without running and weight training."
In June, Azerbaijan's team will play in the selection games for
the upcoming European Championship. Unfortunately, they missed
their opportunity to compete in the 2002 World Championships
by one round, losing to Holland, 2:3. The World Championships
will be held in Germany August 30-September 15, 2002.
Alla Hasanova, captain of the "AzerRail"
women's volleyball team, was interviewed by AI staff member Mahira
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