The Borussia Dortmund women's handball team have claimed a routine and deserved 28-22 (15-12) victory away to HSG Bensheim-Auerbach in their latest Bundesliga match. Under the leadership of interim coach Andreas Kuno, who is overseeing the team alongside Dominik Schlechter, a weakened Dortmund side showed all their class in a combative match. With a 15-12 lead at the break, BVB did not let up in the second period and brought home the next two points.
"That was a hard-fought win in a difficult period for us, which is characterised by major personnel problems. But thanks to a good defence and a good goalkeeper, we've deservedly picked up the next two points," said BVB interim coach Andreas Kuno.
What made the triumph over the team in fourth place all the more remarkable is that the BVB women's handballers were without Dutchwoman Harma van Kreij, who sustained a ligament injury in training on Thursday.
It quickly became clear that it would not be a walk in the park at the Weststadthalle in Bensheim – the BVB coaches had expected as much. The score stood at 4-3 to Bensheim after seven minutes, with the opening stages characterised by numerous time-outs, sin-binned players, misthrows and chaotic play. From a BVB perspective, it was not to be compared with their dominant displays against Halle-Neustadt and Neckarsulm.
But around the quarter-hour mark the Dortmund ladies settled into their usual high-tempo game, reduced the number of errors and – unlike Bensheim – had no problems with passive play. When captain Alina Grijseels equalised at 7-7 via a seven-metre throw on 15 minutes, BVB were level for the first time in the match – thanks in part to a very well-positioned Yara ten Holte in the Dortmund goal. Within five minutes, the Black & Yellows had pulled into a 12-9 lead. Alina Grijseels cleverly steered the ship, while Zöe Sprengers and Lisa Antl converted the counter-attacks. Sprengers was the outstanding forward, with six goals in the opening 30 minutes.
With five minutes to go until the break, BVB led by 14-10. And had Helen Van Beurden not been between the sticks for Bensheim, the home side would surely have found themselves further behind. But the Flames would not be brushed aside. Bensheim pulled a goal back to make it 15-12 right on the stroke of half-time.
It was the same picture in the second half. There was a fierce battle for every ball and by this point, the Flames had adjusted themselves better defensively to BVB. But a second seven-metre throw from Alina Grijseels in the 37th minute upped the lead to 17-13; then, seconds later, another goal from Zöe Sprengers ensured a five-goal lead for the first time all match (18-13).
After right-winger Maraike Kusian had made it 19-13, Bensheim coach Heike Ahlgrimm called another time-out and switched the defence around. The direct result: the Flames managed to reduce their six-goal deficit to three goals by the 45-minute mark. But BVB kept their nerve and put themselves 22-17 in front through another Maraike Kusian goal.
The German vice-champions left no stone unturned in the remaining 10 minutes. Cleverly stewarded by captain Alina Grijseels, they kept hold of their lead and even extended it. Grijseels, Antl and Spengers all scored in the space of two minutes to make it 25-18. Even a brief man-marking of Alina Grijseels by Kretzschmar did not help, as BVB deservedly ran out 28-22 winners.
"That was not an easy match. But Alina Grijseels and Lisa Antl found a solution time after time; Dana Bleckmann is getting better and better in the central block. I can only emphasise that we produced a great team performance in a difficult match," said BVB interim boss Andreas Kuno.
BVB: ten Holte, Moth; Sprengers (9), Antl (6), Grijseels (6/3), Kusian (2), Bleckmann (2), Sasaki (1), Ossenkopp (1), Rønning (1), Stens.