Vouliagmeni adds to Greek splash in European women’s water polo

Vouliagmeni completed Greece’s domination of European women’s water polo by lifting the Champions Cup on Corfu on Saturday. The southern Athens side came from behind in the final to beat Russia’s Kinev Kirishi 10-7 and win the trophy for the second time in a row. Kinev was the better team in the first half, as Vouliagmeni’s attacks were quite hurried, allowing the Russians to lead 4-3 at the halfway point and making the home crowd anxious for a turnaround. The team from Kirishi went on to lead 6-4 during the third period but that was when Vouliagmeni switched gears and began to dominate the game. Just as it had done in the semifinal against Orizzonte Catania on Friday, when it turned a 5-3 deficit to a 9-5 advantage, Vouliagmeni scored five unanswered goals to lead 9-6 with three minutes left. Kinev was completely overwhelmed and had no solutions in attack as the Greek defense was impenetrable for most of the second half. The minutes ticked by, with Vouliagmeni’s Yiouli Lara sprinting to the corner in the dying seconds and playing with the ball as if she were a volleyball player. «As they say, it is more important to stay on top than to get there,» said Lara after the game. Alexia Kammenou, the Vouliagmeni coach, was full of praise for her European champions. «They are superb athletes and I feel blessed as a coach to have such great players. At such games, it is natural to be nervous; we knew we would be. We waited for the point in the game when we would turn from defensive to offensive and our tactics paid off. «I am very happy that we and Ethnikos have won the two European trophies and we will contest the European Super Cup. It is all thanks to the love of some people for the game. We would expect now some more interest in our game from the authorities,» she said. In the third-place playoff, Olympiakos lost to Italy’s Orizzonte Catania 13-12 to settle for the fourth spot, with the Reds’ coach, Haris Pavlidis, admitting after the match that his team had not been ready to go for a European trophy after all. It will now concentrate on maintaining its domestic crown. Vouliagmeni’s victory completed a hat-trick of Greek women’s triumphs in Europe within four days, all in finals staged in Greece against Russian opposition. First was Ethnikos’s win in water polo’s LEN Trophy final on Wednesday and then Athinaikos’s taking of the Eurocup in basketball on Thursday.

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