MACERATA stuns home fans with straight victory over Russian giant
2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men
Macerata, Italy, October 22, 2013. Lube Banca Marche MACERATA cruised to a straight-set victory to claim the most anticipated game of the opening week in Europe’s elite club competition, the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. The hosts downed last year’s bronze medalists Zenit KAZAN of Russia in straight sets (27-25, 25-21, and 25-22) to start their campaign with a very promising result in what has been dubbed the “group of death”.
In what is MACERATA eighth participation in Europe’s most prestigious club competition, the home guys delivered a very strong performance and registered six aces in the end vs. only one for their opponents from Tatarstan. “This is a very important victory and it counts even more since this was the first match of our season in the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League” said head coach Alberto Giuliani. “Since we were assigned to a very tough pool, it was very important for us to catch a good start. At the end of the League Round every single point will count to determine the final standing of the pool”.
The game was preceded by a very emotional moment as the players of Lube Banca Marche entered the court displaying a special banner to show their closeness and affection to 40-year old Goran Vujevic and his wife; the 2000 Olympic champion with the Yugoslav national team was hit by a real tragedy yesterday as his 5-year old son suddenly passed away after suffering a heart stroke.
Lube Banca Marche started out strong (7:2) but Zenit KAZAN fought their way back to keep the score very close (10:9). The teams successfully completed their side-outs up to 17 all and after a very close rush MACERATA sealed the final 27-25 on an error by Zenit superstar Maxim Mikhailov. Bartosz Kurek and Ivan Zaytsev set the pace for the hosts in the second set as MACERATA opened with a mighty 8:3 break and then wrapped it up at 25-21 with Zaytsev (the team captain of Lube Banca Marche finished the game with 20 points).
The course of the game did not change also in the third set; Russian mentor Vladimir Alekno did not change his starting six even by the time MACERATA had broken away in the score with a series of blocks (17:13). Mikhailov top scored in the losing effort of Russia’s giants with 15 points but it was not enough to stop MACERATA. Kurek spiked with great efficiency while libero Hubert Henno delighted the audience with spectacular actions in defense. It was Jiri Kovar who sealed the final 3:0 that was celebrated with a standing ovation by the 2,000 fans in attendance on Tuesday night at Palasport Fontescodella.
“Lube definitely deserved to win tonight but we also helped them a lot with our mistakes and shaky performance” commented Zenit KAZAN 40-year old setter Nikola Grbic.
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