Nikolova lifts Red Rockets to Japan title


NEC Red Rockets celebrate title in Japan V.Premier League.

Lausanne, Switzerland, March 19, 2017 - Emiliya Nikolova of Bulgaria scored 35 points on Saturday and another 30 on Sunday to lead NEC Red Rockets of Kawasaki to the women's Japan V.Premier League title after back-to-back wins over defending champions Hisamitsu Springs of Kobe in the best-of-two final series of the competition.

NEC Red Rockets beat Hisamitsu Springs twice in five sets 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 18-25, 25-23, 20-18) and again 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 18-25, 15-6). It was the seventh Japan championship title for NEC Red Rockets. Only Hitachi Belle Fille (a club disbanded in 2001) have more with 18.

The two teams will be playing at the 2017 FIVB Club World Championship, 14-18 May - Hisamitsu Springs as hosts and NEC Red Rockets as reigning Asian Champions. They are joined by the current South American Champions Rexona Sesc Rio de Janeiro and the European champions that will emerge after the Final Four of the Champions League, 22-23 April in Treviso.

Rexona Sesc Rio gain advantage in Brazil quartefinals
Gabi Guimaraes was voted MVP of the game for her contribution in Rexona Sec Rio de Janeiro's win 3-1 (25-21, 25-20, 16-25, 25-23) over Pinheiros of Sao Paulo as the women's Superleague quarterfinals opened in Brazil. Pinheiros gave the defending champions a run for their money and were coming back from 24-20 down in the nail-biting fourth to try and force a tie-break before Gabi sent an unreturnable missile from the outside to bring it all home.

Gabi shared top-scoring honours with Juciely Barreto on 19 points each, with Anne Buijs of The Netherlands, Monique Pavao and Carol Silv adding another 12 each.

It was the only away win in the first leg of the quarterfinals. Dentil Praia Clube came back from a set down to beat Terracap BRB Brasilia 3-1 (20-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-15) before 2,000 fans at home in Uberlandia. Michelle Pavao was voted MVP of the game for her contribution of 16 points but USA's Alex Klineman was top scorer of the game with 17.

In Osasco Volei Nestle beat newly promoted Fluminense of Rio de Janeiro 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-14) with Tandara Caixeta scoring 17 points and libero Camila Brait picking up the MVP award.

And in Belo Horizonte USA's Destinee Hooker was voted MVP after scoring 32 points as she led Camponesa Minas to an incredible comeback from two sets down in their 3-2 (23-25, 21-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-10) win over Genter Volei Bauru.

The second legs are midweek, with third matched, if required, scheduled for next weekend.

Comeback upset in Russia semis
Uralochka NTMK Ekaterinburg came back from two sets down in Kazan to stun the local Dinamo 3-2 (19-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-12) and turn the tables around as the best-of-three semifinals of the Russian Superleague opened.

Previously, defending champions Dinamo Moscow found little resistance from Yenisei Krasnoyarsk in their 3-0 (25-13, 25-12, 25-15) in the Russian capital.

The second matches in the series are next weekend.

Conegliano carry on in Italy
Having already secured first place in the Regular Season standings and pole position with home advantage leading into the Playoffs, Imoco Volley Conegliano scored yet another win the Italian Samsung Gear A1 League - a 3-2 (25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 23-25, 15-11) affair over Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena before almost 5,000 fans at the PalaVerde.

Robin de Kruijf of The Netherlands with 22 points and Raphaela Folie with 21 were Conegliano's top scorers - the latter earning the MVP of the game award not least for her 5 blocks and 5 aces against her former team. Neriman Ozsoy of Turkey was joint top scorer of the game wit 22 points.

And Pomi Casalmaggiore, the reinging European champions and 2016 FIVB Club World Championship silver medallists, remain in second place of the table following their 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21) win at home over Savino Del Bene Scandici, with Anastasia Guerra leading the way on 23 points.

Leaders all win in Turkey
All four Istanbul sides that occupy the top of the table in the Turkish 1st Division scored wins on the penultimate round of the Regular Season leaving the situation unchanged.

In the absence of China's Rio 2016 MVP Zhu Ting, who took a well-deserved rest, it was Lonneke Sloetjes of The Netherlands with 14 and Serbia's Milena Rasic with 12 who led VakifBank to a 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-19) sweep at home of Halkbank Ankara.

And in Turgutlu it was Brazil's Natalia Pereira (21) and Korea's Kim Yeon-Koung (18) who brought in the points as Fenerbahce defeated Seramiksan 3-1 (25-16, 19-25, 25-23, 25-20) to retain second place in the standings.

Reigning world champions Eczacibasi VitrA also scored an away win, 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-16) over Sariyer Belediyesi, with Serbia's Tijana Boskovic on 12 points and Ceylan Arisan on 11 leading the way.

Galatasaray completed the Istanbul sweep on Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 (19-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-18) win over Canakkale Belediyesi, powered by Nadia Centoni of Italy on 14 points and Charlotte Leys of Belgium on 13.

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