Thursday, February 6, 2014

International | Courtney Thompson’s professional team faces uphill Champions League battle

Washington alum’s Swiss team drops first leg of quarterfinals to Russian powerhouse
  • Dinamo Kazan def. Voléro Zürich 3-1 (20-25, 25-14, 27-25, 25-22)
  • next: Voléro Zürich @ Dinamo Kazan | February 11

Courtney Thompson stands 5-8. Today in Zurich, Switzerland, she was often matched against an opponent who stands a foot taller. Thompson played big, but 6-8 Ektarina Gamova’s team prevailed 3-1 in the European Champions League quarterfinals. The second leg of the round will be played February 11 in Kazan, a Tartarstan metropolis east of Moscow.

Courtney Thompson (15) celebrates a point with her Volero Zurich teammates
Thompson, a US Olympian and former Washington all-American, has been a major key to Voléro Zürich’s rise this season among the elite of Europe’s professional volleyball clubs. The play-by-play announcer for today’s broadcast heaped praise on Thompson for her leadership and setting skills, both evident throughout the match.

Dinamo Kazan is a European power, led by Russian Olympian Gamova and Thompson’s US Olympic teammate, Jordan Larson-Burbach. Throughout the first set—and in stretches during the third and fourth sets—Thompson baffled Dinamo’s blockers with well-disguised sets, doing most of the damage with right-side attacks.

In the end, Volero suffered from poor passing, often limiting Thompson’s options to setting ineffective outside hitter Cuban Kenia Carcaces. Volero missed set point opportunities in the third set when Carcaces elected not to swing away at two crucial junctures.

The home-and-home quarterfinals switch to Russia, where Volero will have to win 3-0 or 3-1 to have a chance to advance to the Champions League semifinals.

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