W handball QF's: As it happened - WSMV News 4

Women's handball quarterfinals: Recap

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The semifinals are officially set. One of these four countries will take home the gold medal: Netherlands vs. France, Norway vs. Russia. 


Russia book their place, def. Angola 31-27


8:55 p.m.


The quarterfinals began with a huge upset as the fourth ranked team from Group B stunned the top ranked team from Group A. Could Angola mirror that result against Russia?


Angola came into this game in very shaky form, losing three consecutive games; yet they found their footing early in their first-ever quarterfinals game. Natalia Maria Bernardo would be the key to any successful upset bid tonight and the Russians were very aware of that, often moving one player up in the pivot position to guard her. 



Marina Sudakova and Polina Kuznetsova emerged as Russia's two primary weapons to stretch the Angolan defense out from the center and open up the court. 


Angola were playing unlike their recent form, though, and proved that they had every intention to hang around and play with the fiery Russians. But they weren't sharp in the transitional game, allowing Russia five goals off the fast break in the first 20 minutes of play. 


Russia are very apt at blowing the lead open, though, and they teased to do it in the opening half, as Angola kept fighting to bring the lead from four goals down to three. 


The second half was a different story. Russia came out strong, feeding the ball to the flanks and quickly opened the lead to six. The variety of their skillset just proved to be too much and eventually took over the match, stopping the Angolans at every turn and every play. 



Angola showed signs of late, though, drawing it back to four in the final five minutes. If France proved anything today, it's that cojming back from that sort of position is a possible task. Three minutes remaining and Angola were down by three. Errant shots from Russia gave Angola the chance to come back, but a violation in crossing the six meter line before shooting the ball gave the ball back to Russia with just 120 seconds remaining. 

 

One more goal by Russia would do it and, with less than a minute to go, Angola's Olympic dream run concluded. 

Norway rout Sweden 33-20


5:25 p.m.



Sweden faced the tough task of having to stump Norway's hopes of reaching the semifinals in their quest of a third successive gold. 


Sweden were held scoreless for the first eight minutes of play as Norway got up to a quick 4-0 lead. Kari Aalvik Grimsbo was perfect in the first seven minutes of play, stopping all seven shots faced. Norway continued to up the pressure on Sweden and wanted to put the game away as quick as possible. 


Nathalie Hagman was held virtually ineffectual for her Swedish side, only scoring twice. 


The quartet of Heidi Loke, Veronica Kristiansen, Camilla Herem and Nora Mork continued to do serious damage. Stine Bredal Ostedal also joined in on the fun. 


It wasn't the way Sweden wanted to go, in a rout by a fellow Scandanavian country, but they will be pleased to have performed above expectations. 


France overcome seven goal deficit, defeat Spain in 27-26 overtime thriller 


2:22 p.m.


With Brazil's surprising elimination, the road to the finals is a bit clearer for both of these teams with an encounter versus Netherlands awaiting the winner. 



Both teams started off pretty strong, with Spain taking the early lead. 


The typically composed French side looked disoriented in the first half, scrambling to clot the center while allowing space on the wing - allowing Spain to score six goals in the opening 10 minutes. 


Alexandra Lacrabere attracted the attention of the Spanish defense as she was continually stormed whenever she held possession of the ball. The experienced right back would use it as an opportuntiy to dish the ball out to her teammates, who'd take the shot. 


Silvia Navarro made it quite difficult, though. The Spanish keeper was solid on her line, saving 55% of shots faced in the first half. 


France went on an 11 minute scoreless streak, unable to find their way through the center of the six meter line. The Spaniards took full advantage and pulled away, opening a seven goal lead. 


After regroupping during halftime, France started off strong and the punishing defense finally showed up and eventually fought their way back to a four goal deficit 10 minutes into the second half. 


Nerea Pena did more than her part to ensure that Spain stayed ahead of France, scoring eight goals. 



Though Pena would be individually mark, the extra attention spent on her opened up space for Alexandrina Cabral to exploit. Again, this normally taut French defense was thinning out. 


If France were to make an effort and ge tback in the game it would come during Spain two-minute suspension in the 22nd minute, and a strong spin move by Beatrice Edwige on Cabral got them back to within three. But Pena - who is making her Olympics debut after missing London due to injury - emerged again for Spain. 


Another two minute suspension for Spain in the 25th minute gave Spain the chance to continue the comeback - now down 22-25. Soon they were down by just two. 


And then it was Lacrabere who slid the ball past Navarro in the final two minutes of play - and with a two minute suspension by Spain - France had a chance to level it and take this game to overtime. 


Gnosnione Niombla drew France level with 20 seconds to go on the clock on a seven meter penalty shot. After an abysmal first half, France somehow managed to complete the comeback, once trailing by as many as seven goals. 



Another penalty by Niombla gave her French side its first lead two minutes into the first extra time. Pena quickly countered. A fast break by Dembele off the turnover gave France the 25-24 edge at the end of the first round of extra time. 


Two minutes into the second exra time and France held the ball, still at 25-24 and a strike by Allison Pineau delivered the two goal cushion, forcing Spain to now complete a comeback of their own the pressure was too much, as an errant Spanish pass gifted France possession once more. 


90 seconds remaining and a strike by Pena brought Spain back to within a goal. An assist from Lacrabere to Pineau gave France the two-goal advantage again, and what surely seemed like the decisive blow, in the final 45 seconds. 


Following a penalty goal, France were now up by just one. Lacrabere's missed shot gave Spain the chance to level it, but Pena narrowly missed the back of the net and hit the post, dashing the Spanish women's hopes and sending France to the quarterfinals. 


Netherlands stun Brazil 32-23


10:30 a.m. 


Brazil stunned the competition in the opening round of play when they defeated two-time defending gold medalists Norway. Now, the competition stunned them in the opening game of the quarterfinals. 


Brazil came out a little bit nervy and the Netherlands too advantage, establishing an early 3-1 while the Brazilians were struggling to find their footing. They were also struggling weaving through that Dutch defense, which was positioned very well along the perimeter of the six meter line. 






Loss of possession got the Dutch rolling early, countering off two turnovers and a save by Tess Wester - all while Daniela Piedade was serving a two minute suspension. Brazil were having issues finding their rhythmn and couldn't work the ball on the fast break. The Dutch, meanwhile, seemed to be playing at a much faster tempo. 


Estavana Polman and Laura van der Heijden began to bully the Brazilians' defense as they worked the Brazilians out of position to open the gaps. 



Brazil did most of their damage off the wing, going five-for-five in the first half. 


The Netherlands gave up four penalty shots in the first half, including the very last goal of the half. 



The Dutch kept the pressure on Brazil, widening the lead to four off of another fast break. In a match that featured two high-tempo and momentum-dependant teams, it was the Netherlands that moved it along. 


The boisterous Future Arena crowd had little effect on the Netherlands, who remained composed in their positioning and play. 


Poor passing by Brazil proved to be their undoing, as they continued to hand the ball over to the Netherlands - who opened up the lead to six goals 15 minutes into the second half. 



The nerves were apparent and this team began to quickly unravel - turnovers, missed penalties and suspensions all bogged a team that feeds on pace. Brazil had none. 


The wing shots continued to be effective for Brazil, though, and looked to be their best chance of avoiding the upset. Right winger Alexandra do Nascimento's presence from the wing continued to pose problems for a Dutch defense that was fixated on Ana Paula Belo. 


The Netherlands continued to hold onto their lead well into the second half, still wtih the six goal advantage with eight minutes of play remaining. 


Nascimento took over for the Brazilians, working the fast breaks and the wing positioning, getting Brazil back to within four. Polman wasn't going to be outdone, though, as she continued to break through that anxious Brazilian defense. 


With 27 minutes gone and Brazil down by five, Wester seemed to have made the game-winning save, shutting down Nascimento's attempt from the right wing. 


The final minute of play was eerily dissimilar to the first, as silence crept into Future Arena as the Brazilians were sent packing. 







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