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10/01/2017 09:14
Much anticipated Finnish derby coming up in CEV Cup
2017 CEV Volleyball Cup - Women

Salo, Finland, January 10, 2017. Finland’s two top women’s teams, LP SALO and HPK HÄMEENLINNA, are locking horns for a much anticipated derby in the 16th Finals of the 2017 CEV Volleyball Cup. The first game of this round will be played in Salo on Thursday. These two teams have split the last 12 national championships titles with all other clubs left fighting for the ‘smaller’ prizes.

LP SALO and HPK have crossed their ways twice this season in the Finnish national league, aka Mestaruusliiga. At the end of October HPK HÄMEENLINNA cruised to a 3-0 home victory and again emerged victorious with same numbers at Salo just after Christmas. HPK HÄMEENLINNA are currently leading the standing with a win-loss record of 14-1 and LP SALO follows suit in second place (13-3).

“We start the game as the challengers. It’s an easier situation for us. HPK are clearly the favourites but we also know, that if we keep playing in our own good way, then we will be able to win the game. I expect a relaxed and brave performance from my players. Having lost two games to HPK this season, we shouldn’t be feeling any pressure,” says the head coach of LP SALO Tomi Lemminkäinen.

“After all, this tie will be resolved in two weeks in Hämeenlinna, no matter what happens on Thursday. We have been better against them in Hämeenlinna than here in Salo this year and also won once away in last year’s national league finals,” Lemminkäinen stresses.

LP SALO’s opponent HPK HÄMEENLINNA started their European season playing in the 2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League against Belarussian Minchanka MINSK. After losing at Minsk 1-3, HPK HÄMEENLINNA won at home 3-0, but lost the all-deciding golden set 10-15.

HPK HÄMEENLINNA head coach Luca Chiappini has been working with the reigning Finnish champions since 2014. The 43-year-old Italian admits, that the two teams know each other very well.

“I really think that LP SALO is with us the strongest team in our Mestaruusliiga. Sure it is going to be a tough match at Salo on Thursday. All the matches are important and this is a very good opportunity for my team to once again improve their level,” Chiappini says.

The winners of this round will face either Pomì CASALMAGGIORE or Maccabi XT HAIFA in the next round of the 2017 CEV Volleyball Cup. Most probably these will be the Italians, who last season claimed a historic title in the CEV Volleyball Champions League.

“The prize waiting for the winner is a big deal. We’ll have the reigning Champions League titleholders against us in the third round,” Tomi Lemminkäinen says.

The first act of the Finnish derby in Salohalli will start at 7:00 p.m. local time on Thursday. The second game will be played in Hämeenlinna on January 25.
 
Picture: LP SALO trio of foreign players, Russia’s Nadezhda Gokhshtein, Ukraine’s Viktoriia Tuchashvili and Vera Klimovich of Belarus have played all together as many as 137 matches in the European Cups.

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