Zenit KAZAN comes from behind to edge MACERATA and top the charts in group of death
2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men
Kazan, Russia, December 18, 2013. In the last match of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League prelims Zenit KAZAN and Lube Banca Marche MACERATA amazed the local Volleyball fans in the capital city of Tatarstan with a stunning match full of dramatic and thrilling rallies. Zenit KAZAN trailed 0:2 after two sets, but managed to snatch a strong-willed victory (21-25, 24-26, 25-22, 25-23, and 15-8). Thanks to that success the players of Vladimir Alekno qualified for the Playoffs 12 as the first-ranked team in Pool E with MACERATA following in second place to also make the next phase.
At the outbreak of the match Zenit KAZAN players were hardly capable of finishing their attacks. As for Lube Banca Marche MACERATA, on the contrary, Ivan Zaytsev played almost unerringly. Owing to his mighty serves while the game was very close (19:19) the son of 1980 Olympic champion Vyacheslav helped the guests from Italy win the opening set (21-25).
Zenit KAZAN libero Alexey Verbov and his teammates were desperately struggling in defense in the beginning of the second set, but despite this, the Italians paced up the game scoring point after point with their blocks – 4:7. Lube Banca Marche MACERATA played very quickly and constantly found a way through the Russian block. Maxim Mikhailov (pictured) took Zenit KAZAN by the hand and in the end of the set the hosts managed to regroup – 22:24. However, Zaytsev kept a high and steady percentage of stormy and effective attacks (73%) and his team cruised to the provisional 0:2 (24-26).
It turned out that Zenit KAZAN still had a powerful weapon up in their sleeve – their serves. As Evgeny Sivozhelez stood behind the service line, the Italian defense line broke down. Matthew Anderson and Roman Yakovlev killed a couple of terrific and hard-to-score hits (24:22) and Alexander Volkov cemented the set with an incredible ace (25-22).
In the fourth set Zenit KAZAN trailed 6:12, but then turned the tide and set the stands in the capital city of Tatarstan on fire with an unbelievable comeback. Anderson and Nikolay Apalikov killed three straight aces, and as in the best years of his career Roman Yakovlev showed wonders in attack – 14:14! The sky was the limit for Roman who scored from all possible and impossible positions – 20:18. The atmosphere on the court was really tense and galvanized that the Kazan Volleyball arena was almost ready to explode. Sivozhelez scored the crucial points (23:21) and was penalized with a “yellow card” by the Polish referee for an uncontrollable splash of joy. Then Nikolay Apalikov aced (24:21) driving Ivan Zaytsev mad (25-23).
Zenit paced up the game and broke away in the tiebreaker, crushing their opponents with powerful serves. Anderson scored two aces in the fifth set (13:7) and edged the match with his impeccably beautiful attacks. The American opposite became the top scorer for Zenit KAZAN with 21 points. As for Lube Banca Marche MACERATA, Ivan Zaytsev recorded a match-high 32 points.
“The match was very tense. Unfortunately, in the decisive moments the referees failed to interpret correctly some controversial points and decided not in our favor. That considerably affected the final result. Zenit KAZAN players really misbehaved and were constantly provoking us. As a result, they achieved their goal” said the captain of Lube Banca Marche MACERATA Ivan Zaytsev after the match.
“The two opening sets were absolutely disastrous for our team since we failed to play considering all the fundamentals. Our rival, on the contrary, was undoubtedly good at ball reception. Moreover, we could do nothing to stop Ivan Zaytsev who killed all of his attacks. At the outset of the third set, we started serving pretty well and since that moment we began to play our Volleyball. I’m glad we have won. I suppose that this terrific game pleased the audience and left unforgettable impressions” said the captain of Zenit KAZAN Alexander Volkov.
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