National champions 2016/17 – Women Part 3: Central
Part three of the six-part national champions series looks at central Europe, where Krim reclaimed their title after the 20-year streak was broken in 2015/16, the MGA Fivers ended Hypo Niederösterreich’s 29-year hold on the Austrian Cup, and SG BBM Bietigheim broke league records on their way to victory in the German Bundesliga.
Black Angels crowned champions fifth time in row
The Black Angels from Most won the fifth consecutive title in 2016/17, and for the second year in a row, beat DHC Slavia Prague in the final to do it.
After finishing second in the Czecho-Slovakian WHIL with Marketa Jerabkova and Simona Szarkova providing the firepower, Most entered the Czech play-offs as the top-seeded team.
The Black Angels lost the first leg of the final against Slavia but came back in the second and grabbed the trophy after the third match at home.
Next season there is a new mission for the Black Angels – attempt to qualify for the EHF Champions League, where they will participate for the first time.
Golden triple for IUVENTA Michalovce – again
In 2016/17, IUVENTA Michalovce won their 10th title and seventh in a row. They were also victorious in the Slovakian Cup and Czech-Slovakian Interliga, completing the golden triple fourth time in a row.
In the final, Michalovce played their arch rivals HK Slovan Duslo Sala, who were the record title holders with nine before IUVENTA rewrote the books by winning their 10th this year.
Michalovce claimed the trophy after confident 3-0 win in the best-of-five series, including a comfortable 10-goal victory in the last match in Sala.
IUVENTA now aim to make a significant appearance on the European scene, where they have struggled to perform to the best of their abilities. In 2016/17, they were eliminated by Alba Fehervar in qualification Round 3 of the EHF Cup following the unsuccessful Champions League qualification.
Unblemished Krim back with a vengeance
After RK Krim Mercator’s 20-year winning streak was interrupted for the first time last season, Elizabeth Omoregie and her young teammates lifted Krim’s 22nd Slovenian championship trophy.
There is no denying Krim were in excellent form this season. After their solid foray in the main round of the Women’s EHF Champions League, as well as coming third in the Women’s Regional Handball League this season, Uros Bregar’s side raised some eyebrows again in the domestic competition as they strolled through the fixtures undefeated.
SG BBM Bietigheim
Never before has a team in the German women’s Bundesliga won all their matches – but in 2016/17 this record was broken by EHF Cup finalists SG BBM Bietigheim.
52 points from 26 matches plus an impressive goal difference of +254 demonstrate the full dominance of the club from Bietigheim, who took their first trophy in the club’s history. The new champions finished eight points ahead of Thüringer HC, who were the dominant side for the previous six seasons
Sensationally however, they missed the double. Though they hosted the Cup final tournament, they were defeated in the semis by title winners Buxtehuder SV.
Czech international Michaela Hrbkova was top scorer with 210 goals and was also awarded best player of the season, while Bietigheim’s Martin Albertsen was awarded coach of the season.
2016 EHF Cup finalists TuS Metzingen broke the spectator record for a women’s handball club match in Germany this season, with 6,157 fans attending their game against neighbours Nellingen.
Fivers break Hypo’s 29-year-hold on the Cup, Hypo defend league title
The 2016/2017 season was a historic one in Austria: For the first time in nearly 30 years, Hypo Niederösterreich did not win both trophies. The four-time EHF Champions League winners were defeated 17:18 by MGA Fivers in the Austrian Cup final after 29 trophies in a row.
But in the league finals, Martin Matuschkowitz’s team struck back, beating the Vienna-based Fivers team twice in the best-of-three series (31:23 and 32:21) to secure their 41st straight league title.
For Hypo, it was not only the first-ever season that saw them defeated in the Cup final – it was also the first time they did not make it to the group phase of the EHF Champions League, as they lost the final of the qualification tournament against German side HC Leipzig.
While Ines Ivancok (Fivers) finished as top scorer of the season with 150 goals, Hypo centre back Patricia Kovacs was awarded best player of the season.
Champions League winners defend domestic title
Weeks after conquering the European throne at the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4, Györi Audi ETO KC retained the Hungarian League title. In contrast with earlier seasons, this year there were no play-offs or finals, only a regular season, which Györ won with three games in hand ahead of FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria.
Györ beat FTC 28:19 at home after trailing at half-time, and snatched a point from their domestic rivals in Budapest. The 28:28 draw after a thrilling run-in was the only point Györ lost this season, which led Ambros Martin’s team to finish on top for the 13th time, while Anita Görbicz now has 11 titles under her belt.
FTC fought hard in both the Hungarian league and Women’s EHF Champions League, managing to lift a trophy against all odds when they won the Hungarian Cup against Györ.
Martin later claimed that losing the final played an important part in the victories that followed in the rest of the season as his players realised they were not invincible.
Vistal Gdynia claim PGNiG Superliga title
For the second time in history, Vistal Gdynia won the Polish title after first raising the trophy in 2012. The team were not the favourites to claim the title in this year’s new-format PGNiG Superliga, as MKS Selgros Lublin were expected to win it for the 20th time.
The medals were decided during the last round of matches with Vistal playing at home against Zaglebie, and starting the match only one point ahead of their opponents on the table. Vistal won the match 24:22 while Kram Start hosted MKS Selgros Lublin for what was in effect the bronze-medal game.
That match ended in a 26:26 draw, but as Elblag were one point ahead they claimed their first medal for the city so far in the 21st century.