Copra Elior PIACENZA seize Challenge Cup after 12 consecutive straight-set wins
2013 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Men
Piacenza, Italy, March 24, 2013. With another win in straight sets (25-22, 25-18, and 25-16) Italy’s Copra Elior PIACENZA claimed the 2013 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup – Men thereby completing a memorable run that included twelve straight victories in as many matches since the start of the season. This result backed up the away win claimed on Wednesday in Russia and though Ural UFA fought bravely, Copra Elior could cruise past once more to seize their second European trophy after that club had previously won the Top Teams Cup back in 2006.
The match was preceded by a minute of silence to commemorate the late Pietro Mennea, a former 200 m world record holder and 1980 Olympic champion who had passed away a few days ago but also to pay the right tribute to Vigor Bovolenta, Italy’s international star – and former team captain of Copra – who had prematurely died a year ago due to heart seizure. Ural UFA was sidelined by the absence of their setter Miguel Angel Falasca while, on the other side of the net, Argentinean Luciano De Cecco marshaled with confidence and mastery the attacking force of the hosts, to be eventually awarded as MVP of the finals.
Alessandro Fei top scored once more with 19 points – including 4 aces – well supported by Hristo Zlatanov (13), Robertlandy Simon (11) and Maxwell Holt (9). Similarly to what they done a few days ago in Russia, the hosts demolished Ural UFA with great serving thereby shaking the defense line of the group mentored by Italian-born Angiolino Frigoni. Libero Davide Marra and 39-year old Samuele Papi stood out in defense finishing the game with terrific figures (81 and 80% of efficiency respectively). PIACENZA did outclass their opponents in every single fundamental registering 8 aces (vs. 2 for Ural), 67% in reception (vs. 44%), 60% in attack (vs. 45%) and 7 blocks (5 for Ural). After struggling for the first couple of sets, Ural UFA attempted a possible comeback in the early phases of the third but after the second technical time-out was eventually routed by Copra Elior.
Luca Monti opted for a starting six including De Cecco (setter), Fei (opposite), Zlatanov and Papi (wing spikers), Simon and Holt (middle blockers) plus libero Marra. Frigoni responded with setter Zhloba, opposite Vissotto, wing spikers Abramov and Panteleymonenko, middle blockers Kazakov and Ashchev, plus libero Verbov. With Zlatanov, Simon and Holt on fire, PIACENZA got off to a good start (8:4) but Ural fought back with Vissotto, Abramov and Panteleymonenko reducing their gap to a minimum (13:12). The hosts were good enough to stay focused and with Holt standing out from the serving line, they went to the front once again (18:15); Vissotto tried to get his side back on track (21:19) but a serving error by Abramov did re-open the gap for PIACENZA (23:20); after missing out on a couple of set balls, Copra Elior could eventually celebrate the provisional 1:0 after another Russian error from the serving area, this time by setter Vladislav Zhloba (25-22).
With Maxwell Holt serving strong PIACENZA opened the second set with the right pace (4:0, 6:1) but Ural was able to claw back and eventually drew the score at 10 on a couple of spikes killed by Panteleymonenko and Vissotto. However, with another ace contributed by Holt, Copra Elior could get back control of the operations and with Fei, Zlatanov and Papi bombing the Russian backline, the score quickly moved up from 16:14 to 23:18 for the home side. Fei could eventually cash the 2:0 (25-18) that practically determined the fate of the game.
The third set was a sort of carbon copy of the previous one with a close start (6:6) before Copra Elior got a slim edge (14:12) with Tencati and De Cecco. The hosts gradually accelerated their tempo (18:14) and Fei aced to call for a series of match balls (24:15). He eventually missed out on his next attempt from the serving area but Zhloba emulated the Italian opposite thereby triggering the home party at PalaBanca (25-16).
“I am happy because we could bring it home though we evidently felt the pressure resulting from this home final” Copra Elior mentor Luca Monti stresses. “We shall give the credit for this success to all of our players because they did not make anything wrong in twelve matches”.
“I would like to dedicate this trophy to my friend Vigor (Bovolenta). He deserves it because he stood at our side all the way up to this victory. We have written history this season by claiming 12 wins in a row without conceding any single set to our opponents” so team captain Hristo Zlatanov.
“We do have some regrets for these final matches but we played bad in Russia as well as tonight while PIACENZA did show excellent Volleyball on both occasions. The absence of our first setter did evidently sideline us but it shouldn’t be an excuse for our poor performance. We had lots of problems in reception and played bad also in attack; our serve was not that effective and our block almost not existing” concluded Ural UFA mentor Angiolino Frigoni.
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