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27.06.2016, 15:19◄ last page     


DOMESTIC LEAGUES: Trefilov-led Astrakhanochka sprang a surprise in the Russian championship, while Gomel snapped the title streak of BNTU Minsk in Belarus.
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National champions of Europe - Women Part 6: North-East

The domestic leagues have come to an end and we now approach the draws of the 2016/17 European season, starting with the Women's EHF Champions League draw on 26 June.

In six parts, the spotlight is shone on each of the national champions and their path to glory. The last part consists of teams from Finland, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova.

FINLAND
Dicken defeat HIFK again

The women’s final in Finland was a remake of last year’s deciding series. Once again, league winners Dicken were up against runners-up HC West, and once again Dicken won.

However, in the final series, which was played best of seven, Dicken needed six matches to be able to lift the trophy.

HIFK even started by putting the defending champions under heavy pressure by winning the first two matches, 25:22 away and 22:20 at home.

After those two opening defeats, however, Dicken really woke up and took four straight wins – 20:13 at home, 21:19 away, 24:15 at home and finally 21:17 on HIFK’s home court in Helsinki.

BELARUS
Gomel’s first title

After Belarus gained independence in 1991, BNTU-BelAZ had been a dominant force in the national women’s handball. They won the league 22 times and previously lost the title only once, to Gorodnichanka in 2008.

But now, the country has a new champion named HC Gomel. Coached by the Belarus national coach Tomaz Cater since December, this club made a small revolution in the national league.

After the regular season, Gomel had two points less than BNTU-BelAZ, and they lost the first match of the final series. Yet Cater’s team did not give up and beat BNTU in the next three games, which was enough to be crowned champions.

RUSSIA
The sensational Astrakhanochka

For the first time in history, Astrakhanochka became the Russian champions. Previously this team had only once been on the podium, having won bronze medals in 2015.

Their sensational result can be attributed to Yevgeni Trefilov’s work. The Russian national coach got the job in Astrakhan in January when the team were occupying only the 5th place in the league.

But under the experienced Trefilov, the team steadily improved. They finished third in the regular season and went on to comfortably beat Kuban Krasnodar in the first play-off round.

Lada Togliatti were a tougher opposition in the semifinal, yet Astrakhanochka won the series 2:1.

In the final, they faced the last year champion Rostov-Don who were considered hot favourites. However, the team from Astrakhan continued their winning streak and beat Rostov in just two games — 21:20, 29:26.

UKRAINE
Second in a row for Galytchanka

Just like the previous year, Galytchanka won the national title.

This is only the second such achievement in the history of the Lviv team. During the season, HC Karpaty Uzhgorod seriously challenged the champion, but they faced many injuries as the tournament progressed. The slump in Karpaty’s form helped Galytchanka to return to the first place in the league.

Since there are no play-offs in the Ukrainian league, everything is decided after the regular season. Galytchanka secured their title already two games before the finish, after beating HC Dnepryanka Kherson 27:18.

In the end, Galytchanka had a 4-point advantage over the runner-up Karpaty.

LITHUANIA
Zalgiris continue to dominate

ACME-Gaja-Zalgiris is still a major force in the Lithuanian women's handball. They won the Lithuanian league for the fourth time in a row.

This time, HC Garliava SM-CASCADA tried to dethrone the team from Kaunas, and beating them was quite a challenge for Zalgiris.

All games of the final series proved to be extremely tight. In the first match, Zalgiris won 35:34 only in the second extra time. Then HC Garliava took revenge, winning 28:25.

Yet Zalgiris showed their strength and went on to win two more games, 31:28 and 32:31, which secured them an overall 3:1 victory in the finals.

LATVIA
Stopinu get the title back

Since 2011, Stopinu NHK won four out of six national championships. They were triumphant in 2011, 2012, 2014 and now in 2016.

Last year, Stopinu were not very successful and did not make even the top three. But their past season was nearly perfect.

Their only defeat in the league came in the first final match against the last-year champions SK Latgols (26:27). But Stopinu managed to come back. Two confident victories, 24:17 and 33:16, helped them to get the title back after a one-year break.

ESTONIA
Reval-Sport/Mella comfortably win

Four clubs took part in the Estonian women's league this year. They played against each other twice in the regular season, after which the two best teams, Reval-Sport/Mella and Reval-Sport/Padise, had 10 points each.

Then they faced each other in the final in Tallinn, and Reval-Sport/Mella comfortably won 32:24.

The third place was taken by HC Tallinn than were stronger than SK Tapa — 26:24.

MOLDOVA
Tiraspol remain Nr.1

While the men's team of Tiraspol was unable to defend the championship title, the women's team SSSCJ RO-1 Tiraspol repeated the last year's success and claimed their sixth consecutive title.


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev, Peter Bruun / br

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