The BVB women's handball team temporarily lead the Women's Handball Bundesliga. With their rivals Bietigheim and Thüringer HC not in action on Wednesday, the Dortmund ladies moved up into pole position thanks to a 32-22 (17-12) away victory against Sachsen Zwickau, who sit second-bottom in the table. Having made a subdued start to the game, BVB showed their class in the second period and claimed a routine win.
The scenario: It's a three-horse race at the top of the Bundesliga table. Bietigheim have only played five matches but already have a points tally of 10-0 and are the only team yet to suffer a defeat. BVB were playing their seventh game in Zwickau and had a tally of 10-2 points prior to throw-off. They were followed in third place by Thüringer HC, who have 10-2 points from six games. The visitors from Zwickau were down in 13th place before the match.
Personnel matters: It had already become apparent on Sunday that a cold was doing the rounds in the BVB camp. Lena Hausherr was hit especially hard and could not make the trip to her former club. Also absent were the long-term injury absentees Harma van Kreij and Madita Kohorst, plus Haruno Sasaki, who was away on international duty with Japan. Reserve-team player Lyna Schwarz continued her recent inclusion in the squad.
The match & analysis: BVB were not on high alert at the start of their fifth game in 10 days. Within three minutes, Zwickau led 3-1. Captain Alina Grijseels levelled at 3-3 via a seven-metre throw in the fifth minute, with goals from Meret Ossenkopp (two), Dana Bleckmann and Zöe Sprengers making it 7-4 a short while later. When Yara ten Holte then saved a seven-metre throw, Dana Bleckmann immediately increased the lead to 8-4 despite being under time pressure.
But BVB had still not really hit their stride by that point. The defence was careless, and the Dortmund ladies had already conceded three time penalties by the quarter-hour mark. As a result, Zwickau had narrowed the deficit to 11-9 by the 20-minute mark. Nora Jakobsson van Stam and Diana Dogg Magnusdottir repeatedly caused BVB headaches. Virtually on the stroke of half-time, Serb Sara Garovic scored her second goal to make it 17-12.
In the second period, BVB did a fine job defensively. Goals from Sprengers and Antl quickly upped the advantage to 19-13 (37). Sophie Moth, who replaced Yara ten Holte between the sticks in the 30th minute, played a perfect pass to tee up Zöe Sprengers, who made it 20-13. The lead subsequently grew to double-digits in the final 20 minutes, with Alina Grijseels standing out with some lovely passes to Lisa Antl in the middle. There was another sporting highlight when goalkeeper Sophie Moth saved a throw from Magnusdottir with only one hand. The game ultimately finished 32-22. The most prolific Black & Yellow in Zwickau was captain Alina Grijseels with six goals, followed by Zöe Sprengers with five goals.
Reaction: "It was a great atmosphere, I could hardly get through to my team," said Henk Groener, as he paid tribute to the fans after the final whistle. The coach spoke of a difficult start with Zwickau initially holding their own well. "But then we concentrated in defence and pulled the game in our direction," Groener said.
BVB women's handball team: Moth (1), ten Holte (1), Grijseels (6/2), Sprengers (5), Kusian (1), Ossenkopp (3), Olsson (2), Rønning (3), Bleckmann (4), Garovic (2), Antl (4), Schwarz
Outlook: There are three games to go before the turn of the year. On Saturday 17 December, BVB will play host to promoted Waiblingen at Halle Wellinghofen. That will be followed by the top-of-the-table clash with BBM Bietigheim on 26 December. And one day before New Year's Eve, Borussia will welcome Bad Wildungen for their final match of the year.