The German champions have extended their unbeaten start to the Women's Handball Bundesliga season to seven games. The BVB women's handball team came out on top in an intense battle with Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday evening to beat their North Rhine-Westphalian rivals 30-24 (12-15).

The 300 spectators at Halle Wellinghofen saw a hectic and foul-laden encounter that hung in the balance for a long time and demanded everything of the Dortmund ladies. BVB coach André Fuhr concluded: "We fiercely competed for 30 minutes. We took the two points, that's what counts."

It was hard work – but the Borussia Dortmund women's handball players overcame their latest challenge. BVB came out on top in their 23rd meeting with record champions Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday evening and wrested back top spot in the table from rivals SG BBM Bietigheim, who are also yet to drop a point this season.

This game was, as expected, not a walk in the park. Quite the contrary. It was clear from the first moment that it would be a tough and hard-fought match. It was not until the fifth minute that the first goal was registered. BVB pivot Merel Freriks got the better of the Bayer defence to make it 1-0. It looked as though the breakthrough had been made.

Braces from Amelie Berger and Mia Zschocke quickly extended the advantage to 5-2. But it was a long way from over. Leverkusen kept going and reduced their deficit to 9-8 by the time a quarter of an hour had passed. BVB boss André Fuhr called an early time-out to address his team. "I had the feeling that we criminally underestimated Leverkusen in the opening 10 minutes. After that we made life very difficult for ourselves," explained Fuhr.

The short speech did not seem to have any special effect. With four minutes to go until the break, Leverkusen took a 13-12 lead for the first time in the match. Svenja Huber then made it 14-12 to Bayer with a seven-metre throw. BVB responded by switching to a 5-1 defence, but still found themselves 15-12 behind at half-time. 

In the second half, BVB battled with all their might against the impending defeat. A seven-metre throw from Alina Grijseels and a Laura van der Heijden goal reduced the deficit to 15-14. BVB were back in it, and equalised at 18-18 through Grijseels on 37 minutes. Things then got spicy at Halle Wellinghofen. "I was very dissatisfied with some decisions by the referee," explained André Fuhr. The nerves were on edge. When the match officials lost control after a time-out, the 300 fans were up in arms. There was a hail of time penalties (including a yellow card and a two-minutes penalty against André Fuhr), and Leverkusen's Loreen Veit saw red.

So it was a good thing that captain Alina Grijseels kept her cool, scoring three goals in succession to put BVB 21-19 ahead (45). Five minutes later, she upped the lead to 24-21 with a seven-metre throw. But it was not until Fatos Kücükyildiz (55) and Amelie Berger (56) made it 26-22 and 27-22 respectively that the win was truly in the bag.

There was also some relatively good news on the personnel front. The news relating to first-choice goalkeeper Yara ten Holte, who had sustained a ligament injury while warming up prior to the Champions League game to Rostov-on-Don on Saturday, is not as bad as first feared. "Nothing is torn, that's the good news. Now the swelling on the joint just needs to go down," said the 21-year-old, who is in good spirits. But it seems impossible that she will face Croatian champions HC Podrovka Vegeta on Sunday. Ten Holte was replaced on Wednesday by goalkeeping coach Clara Woltering, who did well to thwart the final attack from the Leverkusen ladies.

BVB: Kohorst, Woltering; Grijseels (6/3) Zschocke (2), Kücükyildiz (2/1) van der Heijden (6), Rønning (1/1), Sando, Freriks (3), Berger (7), Moreno (3), Abdulla, Gutiérrez Bermejo