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This post comes from guest author Georgina Morrison, a student at the University of Surrey who currently plays for SYC.
After an exciting and unpredictable Saturday at the European Ultimate Championship Finals last weekend, the mud settled and results from the semis rolled in: the women’s final was to be a rematch between Italy’s CUSB Shout and Switzerland’s FABulous.
It was a surprising match-up to decide the continental title. Drawn into the same pool to start the tournament, Shout and FABulous first had to get by France’s YAKA – who had beaten both finalists at Regionals – and Moscow’s Brilliance, the EUCR-North champions, just to make the front-door bracket. In the semifinals, the Italians overcame a strong Iceni squad that had ended their season at the same stage of last year’s EUCF while the Swiss ladies took down a hot Troubles team from Poland that entered the bracket undefeated at the tournament so far. Still, with the sun out and the wind picking up on Sunday in Frankfurt, the rematch for the championship proved to be an incredible showcase for the women’s division.
“We actually know [Shout] pretty well because at least once a year we play them," said Bern’s Anna Kämpfer. “We had the pleasure to play them at this tournament in our first game that we lost.”
That pool play loss and their overall familiarity with their foes allowed FAB to adjust their strategy heading into the final.
“They have a very strong zone,” reported Kämpfer. “Our only chance was to huck.”
In the early stages, the Swiss long game and athleticism proved too much for Shout. FABulous coach and captain Olivia Hauser’s deep shots were pin-point perfect, finding teammates who were ready to bring them down out of the air for a score. FABulous took an early 3-0 lead, having scored their first point in a mere 20 seconds and then followed it up with two breaks.
Despite the potential for immediate despondency, Shout seemed unfazed by their opposition’s early lead. They exuded a confidence defined by Laura Farolfi’s clinical handling, as she worked her way through a fierce zone to earn her team’s first point of the game. Then coming down on defense on a high from her team’s first score, Shout’s Elisa Frangipane shut FAB down with two impressive point blocks.
The Swiss ladies retaliated, regaining their composure after a timeout. The two teams battled back and forth though the rest of the first half, but FABulous retained their lead and led at the break, 8-5.
In response to the hole they had dug themselves, Shout stepped up their defensive execution several gears to try to get back in the game. FABulous, not to be outdone tactically, switched up from their zone just as Shout was starting to get comfortable with it. Bern turned to their athletes to play suffocating person defense, ramping up the pressure on the already under siege Italian handlers. A run-through block from Simona Lieberth kept Shout from creeping closer on the scoreboard, as well as putting a cork in the rising Italian sideline.
The tension was high and both teams fought for every disc, every play, and on every mark. A massive layout block from Kämpfer earned “play of the game” status, but Shout’s slick offense was still able to close the gap to two at 12-10.
It was as close as the Italians would get. In the game’s final stages, the teams traded points, both sides relentless as determined athletes clung desperately onto every pass. Under the midday sun, the two squads battled it out, pushing themselves to a brink from which only one could return victorious. Ultimately, the composure displayed by the form and reliability of Olivia Hauser’s long game earned the Swiss ladies the laurels, claiming a 15-13 win and a European title.
In a game that proved to be perhaps the best of the weekend, FABulous were the stars.
After their loss in pool play, Iceni got revenge over Troubles in the third place game, claiming bronze. Elsewhere, Vienna’s Box and London’s SYC tied for the spirit award win.
Originally published at: https://ultiworld.com/2016/10/11/fabulous-finish-swiss-women-frankfurt/