AEK triumph in final over Panathinaikos for first ever Cup title

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With much support coming from MVP of the match Yamila Nizetich of Argentina, AEK ATHENS triumphed over Panathinaikos ATHENS 3-1 (25-21, 14-25, 25-20, 25-20) in the final of the Greek Women’s Cup Saturday night in Arta, a city in western Greece, to pick up their first title in the history of the competition.

Argentina's Yamila Nizetich, voted MVP of the match, drops to her knees as her AEK ATHENS teammates erupt in celebration after beating Panathinaikos in the Greek women's Cup Final

AEK went ahead in a rollercoaster of a first set, coming back from 11-15 down with an incredible 10-0 run (with Cuba’s Rosir Calderon applying the pressure from the service line) to make it 21-15, before Anna Kalantatze brought down the last spike to finish the set.

Panathinaikos did reply with an overwhelming second set to draw level. But that second set was about the extent of the defending Cup holders’ resistance over an arguably superior AEK who carried on and finished the match in four.

Panathinaikos out-blocked (7 to 4) and out-served (6 to 3) AEK, but lacked the punch from the outside, as AEK’s Gyselle Silva of Cuba produced the match high of 17 points after attacking for 50% (17/34). Nizetich registered 15 points in addition to a huge contribution of 65% in reception.

But other than reception, it was the unforced errors that marked the downfall of Panathinaikos, who committed as many as 34 (to AEK’s 20).
Yamila Nizetich of Argentina, voted MVP of the Greek Cup Final, kisses the trophy - the first ever for AEK in the 23-year history of the Greek Women's Cup

AEK’s Turkish coach Yunus Öcal had two reasons to celebrate - the trophy coming just three days after the birth of his daughter. It was his first child and his first trophy. “The birth of my daughter brought us good luck,” he said after the game. “I am so happy for what we have achieved. We have worked well. We made some tactical substitutions during the game which raised our level, especially in block-defence. We still had our ups and downs, but when we improved on siding out, everything went well. A big thanks to our fans for their support.”

"My feelings are only of happiness,” added AEK libero Maria-Eleni Artakianou. “I have waited for this moment for so many years. I had been in many finals but had never managed to win a title.”
AEK players jump in celebration as captain Lamprini Konstantinidou lifts the trophy high after beating Panathinaikos in a thrilling Cup Final

“The turning point, I believe, was during the first set when we inexcusably got stuck in a rotation that usually was not a problem for us,” said Panathinaikos coach Ioannis Kalmazidis. “The two teams are very close, but tonight AEK was just better and deserved the win.”

The previous evening, in the semi-finals, Panathinaikos had shut out A.O. THIRAS Santorini 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-9) on the back of a 12-point scoring high from USA’s Adora Anae; and AEK came back from a set down to overcome PAOK THESSALONIKI 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-19) with Calderon grabbing 21 points and despite a match high of 24 from PAOK’s Payton Caffrey of the USA.

It was AEK’s first ever Cup title. Olympiacos PIRAEUS (who were eliminated this season in the quarterfinals) hold the record for the most Cup titles with nine in 24 editions.

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