USA stars Sarah Wilhite Parsons, Paige Tapp and Krystal Rivers could not prevent MTV Stuttgart from suffering a 3-1 defeat at the hands of SSC Palmberg Schwerin in the second of their Bundesliga play-off matches, to level the best-of-five series at 1-1.
After winning the first match of the series 3-1 in Stuttgart, Giannis Athanasopoulos’ side were beaten by a much-improved SSC team at a sold-out Palmberg Arena.
The hosts raced into a 6-1 within four minutes, and matters were made worse for Stuttgart when Wilhite Parsons had to be hauled off following a clash with Rivers.
The first set ended 25-17 to SSC, but the visitors responded well and claimed the second, only to see the defending champions storm the third set thanks to strong performances from Britt Bongaerts and Greta Szakmary.
The fourth set provided a climactic finish to a thrilling encounter, with SSC taking an 18-14 lead before Stuttgart battled bravely to level the scores at 24-24.
It was a stroke of luck that saw Szakmary’s final attack clinch a 26-24 win that settled the match.
SSC coach Felix Koslowski told SportBuzzer.de: “That was an important success. I am happy and satisfied with the performance. Now we have arrived properly in the series.
“If we play like that, we win.”
Triumphant outside hitter Kimberly Drewniok added: “That was amazing, and was a lot of fun.
“The atmosphere was breathtaking. The fans drove us to this performance.”
SSC captain Jennifer Geerties added: “We were a bit nervous, but had planned to play our game and put Stuttgart under pressure.
“We did that very well at the beginning.”
The third match of the series is scheduled for May 5, with the fourth and fifth games to be played on May 9 and May 11 if necessary.