Three rookies and one former winner reach the EHF Finals Women in Graz

27 Mar. 2024

Three rookies and one former winner reach the EHF Finals Women in Graz

The second-tier European competition, the EHF European League Women, has found out its four participants to the EHF Finals Women, the business end of the season, with the qualified teams fighting for the trophy in Graz, Austria, on 11 and 12 May.

16 teams were at the start of the group phase of the EHF European League Women, with only eight – the top two placed teams in each of the four groups – progressing to the quarter-finals, which were played in two legs.

The closest battle was the one between CS Gloria 2018 BN and Motherson Mosonmagyaróvári KC, as the two sides went back and forth, with plenty of lead changes in both matches, but, eventually, the Romanian side was the one sealing the EHF Finals Women berth, with a 59:55 aggregate win.

The first leg, in Hungary, saw the two sides battle it out until the end, but Bistrița eventually edged out a 32:30 win, doubling down with a 27:25 home win, despite Motherson Mosonmagyaróvári KC were hot on their tails, leading by two goals with 10 minutes to go.

The top scorer of the doubleheader was Bistrița’s captain, Cristina Laslo, who combined for 17 goals, nine in the first leg and eight in the second, as the All-Star centre back at the 2014 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship and the 2016 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship shined for her side.

This is Bistrița’s maiden appearance in the EHF Finals Women and in any Final4 in European club competitions, as the ambitious Romanian side, whose coach is Florentin Pera, Romania women’s national team coach, will face another Romanian side in the semi-finals, HC Dunărea Brăila.

A perennial contender in the last years in the second-tier European competition, Brăila will finally make their debut in the EHF Finals Women this time around, after a compelling 58:51 aggregate win against Croatian side Podravka Koprivnica.

It was a Croatian line player, Katarina Ježić, who shined for Brăila, in their 32:26 and 26:25 wins, as the Romanian side overpowered their opponents and clinched their place in the last act of the competition with a 58:51 aggregate win.

In the other two quarter-finals, there were straightforward wins for Neptunes de Nantes and Storhamar Handball Elite, with only Nantes having previously won an European trophy, the EHF European League Women, in the 2020/21 season, when they secured the title after a win against Siofok KC.

With the 2023 IHF Young Female Player of the Year in the roster, Lena Grandveau, Nantes secured two clear wins, 39:30 and 31:27 against Norwegian side Sola HK, as their 70:57 aggregate win saw the French side advantage to the EHF Finals Women for the second time in four editions.

On the other hand, Storhamar became the first ever Norwegian side to make it to the business end of the EHF European League Women and the first Norwegian side to make it between the final four teams in the second-tier European competition since Vipers Kristianstad in the 2017/18 season.

With the top scorer of the competition in their ranks, Anniken Obaidli, scoring 19 goals against Thüringer HC in the two matches, Storhamar cleared a path to a 72:61 aggregate win.

The draw for the semi-finals took place on Tuesday, 26 March, in Graz, Austria, and brought a Romanian team in the final, as CS Gloria 2018 BN will face Dunărea Brăila, while Neptunes de Nantes are due to face Storhamar.