Olympiacos complete their campaign with straight victory over Czech champions
2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men
Piraeus, Greece, December 18, 2013. Though they were missing their best scorer Boyan Yordanov due to injury, the hosts of Olympiacos PIRAEUS finished their adventure in the prelims of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men with a straight win over Czech champions VK OSTRAVA (25-20, 25-21, and 26-24). Menelaos Kokkinakis played a superb game top scoring in the end with 16 points while Leonardo Caldeira added another 10 to the count of the home heroes. Adam Zahorsky paced VK OSTRAVA with 12. With this result Olympiacos finished the League Round with a win-loss record standing a 3-3 and nine points.
The absence of Yordanov clearly affected the performance of Olympiacos in the opening set where the hosts trailed 6:8 at the first technical time-out as they struggled to find a way through the Czech block. However, with a 4-0 break, Olympiacos flipped the charts around (10:8) and could keep that same margin also at the second mandatory stop. After that, everything turned out to be pretty easy for Olympiacos that widened their lead up to six points (22:16) and sealed the final 25-20 on a rally finished by Sotirios Sotiriou.
The hosts were off to a good start also in the second set (3:1) but once again VK OSTRAVA was the side that was leading the way at the first technical time-out (6:8). Shortly after the break they could even increase their lead up to four points (9:13) before the hosts improved on their offensive play to make it 13 all after an ace by Sotiriou. Olympiacos got back control of the game at 19:17 and showed very strong nerves by the deciding moments of this set. With a series of terrific serves Kokkinakis “destroyed” the Czech defense line (23:19) and helped the hosts take a 2:0 lead in sets (25-21).
The home guys were evidently thrilled after winning two consecutive sets and played their best also in the early phases of the third (8:3). However, VK OSTRAVA was not yet ready to give in and leveled the game at 14 all after excellent serving by Richard Mauler. They even went to the front after the second technical time-out (16:18, 20:22) before Olympiacos brought it home in straight sets (26-24) anchored by an excellent Leonardo Caldeira.
“I have to congratulate my players because they made a big effort to win this game” said Olympiacos mentor Dimitris Kazazis after the game. “We were back in this competition after three years and though we are satisfied with our record of three victories, I believe we could achieve something more in this Pool. I also want to pay tribute to our fans who have been at our side in all the matches we played, home and away.”
This was the last match for VK OSTRAVA in the European Cups this year. “We made a big effort tonight because we wanted to finish the competition on a high note” said their head coach Zdenek Smejkal. “We are very happy that we had the opportunity to join such competition like the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League” he concluded.
“The ambiance was very difficult to stand for us tonight as we played in an arena that was packed with their fans” added team captain Richard Mauler. “We did not perform as well as we expected in the first and second sets. We could have won the third but we were not calm enough towards the end. We will keep and use the experience we got from playing these matches in Europe’s elite club competition.”
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