Azerbaijan got their European Games campaign off to a winning start when they recorded a 3-1 win against Romania. Strong blocking paid off for Azerbaijan in the first set as they claimed a 25-20 win, before taking the second 25-18.
Romania fought back to win the third set, before a raucous home crowd roared Azerbaijan on to victory as they comfortably took the final set 25-15 in their first Pool A game.
"It's been a long time since we played in front of such a large and enthusiastic crowd, so we wanted to do our best to show how well we can play and to win for them," said Azerbaijan head coach Aleksandr Chervyakov.
“The Azerbaijani music that was played between points during the game cheered us on,” said Polina Rahimova, who scored the most points for the home side with a total of 33.
Earlier in the afternoon in Pool B, Germany defeated Bulgaria 3-2 in a gripping game in Crystal Hall 1.
The Germans – hoping to win qualifying points for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – were made to work hard for their win against a powerful Bulgarian team.
In a keenly fought match, Germany secured a close first set 25-22, before Bulgaria took an enthralling second.
They continued to attack their opponents and won the third set 25-10 thanks to some clever play close in the net, before a resilient Germany won the fourth set 28-26.
That led to a fifth and final tie-breaker, which Germany took 15-10.
“I’m happy with the result, especially since it’s our first official match with this squad,” said Germany coach Luciano Pedulla.
"We'll take it match by match and our goal is to grow throughout the tournament," added the captain, Margareta Kozuch.