KRISTANSAND (VG) (Venomous Snake – Crimea 33-24, 65-49 total) After last year’s win in the Champions League, they were duped for some of the biggest stars. But Nora Mørk and Viper have better results than team gold starting in 2021.
1 of 3Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk / VG
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Crimea were eliminated from the field in two quarter-final matches. The Slovenes were reinforced with banned CSKA Moscow star Ana Gros, but Crimea had little to offer as Mørk controlled the game and Katrine Lunde saved the ball at Aquarama.
Sørlendingene are ready to advance to the Champions League semifinals with a difference of 16 goals.
– We don’t have more superlatives left, says Viasat expert Gunnar Pettersen.
The Viper play the Final Four in Budapest on the first weekend of June. Györ and Metz are also ready, while the last places are Esbjerg or Bucharest.
– We may not be the favourites. But there is a possibility to win with a maximum weekend, said coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad.
After two defeats in the first three games of this fall, Viper have progressed tremendously and have won 10 of the last 11 Champions League matches. Last year’s winning team took an average of 1.25 points per. suitable. This year’s edition of the Viper averaged 1.50 points.
– Last year we played most of the away games. But we had a good Champions League season. It starts off a bit slow. But then it’s great, thought Gjekstad.
– Impressive, said Gunnar Pettersen.
Henny Reistad scored 22 goals in last year’s semifinal and final before he disappeared to Esbjerg. Emilie Hegh Arntzen and Malin Aune go to Bucharest. Heidi Løke is pregnant and Chief of Defense Hanna Yttereng is out with a long-term injury early.
But over time, the Viper got a lot of votes.
Croatian Ana Debelic has delivered a great season down the line. Markéta Jerábková of the Czech Republic has taken a big step forward as a fullback. Hungarian veteran Zsuzsanna Tomori has found a new spring as a defensive anchor at Kristiansand.
Isabelle Gulldén has done a fine job in her only Viper season. The experienced Swede showed he still has class. Ragnhild Valle Dahl did the same with his six goals, some of them pearls from distance.
– I get a lot of space and then I take it. “It’s always nice to score goals,” he said.
On Saturday, the Viper had things under control and led 17-12 at halftime after nine saves by Katrine Lunde. Crimea defended better in the first minute after the break. Then the new Crimean player from Rostov-Don, Tatjana Brnovic, got a red card.
– We have a lot of new players. We have come a long way, explained the goalkeeper.
Lunde made his best save and eventually goalkeeper Evelina Eriksson, playmaker Marta Tomac and wingers Tuva Høve (3 goals) and Mina Hesselberg (1 goal) came off the bench and joined the party. 1753 the audience responded with a thump.
– The best coaching job Ole Gustav Gjekstad has ever done, according to Pettersen. Few know the Viper coach better. Pettersen once had Gjekstad playing for the national team and Sandefjord.
– This is good. Many have done a good job. But we still have three titles up for grabs. This is important, Gjekstad reminded.
Stine Bredal Oftedal and Györ had no problems securing a place in the playoffs the previous Saturday. The captain of the national team scored nine goals as Györ beat Brest 35-23 after drawing in the first quarter-final in France.
Veronica Kristiansen is not on the scoresheet for Györ, while Silje Solberg sits on the bench. Kari Brattset Dale is pregnant and will no longer be playing for a big Hungarian club this season. Tonje Løseth scored five goals for Brest, while the strong Helene Fauske had no day with just one goal from four shots.
French Metz were ready for the Final Four after quarter-final opponents Rostov-Don were ruled out.
Norwegian-dominated Esbjerg favorites to take last place after beating Bucharest by one goal in the first quarter-finals. Match back for Henny Reistad & co. play in Denmark on Sunday.
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