Skra needs only two sets to claim spot in Challenge Round, then survives to 14 match balls to beat Generali
2014 CEV Volleyball Cup - Men
Belchatow, Poland, January 23, 2014. On Thursday night PGE Skra BELCHATOW made another step forward in their campaign in the 2014 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men. After edging Generali UNTERHACHING in straight sets in Germany last week, PGE Skra won also the second game at home (3:2; 25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, and 28-26) and is now ready to face another German opponent, VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, in the next round.
“After the first match we expected another difficult task tonight and were ready for that. We had to stay concentrated from the very beginning and we did very well until the moment we made sure we had qualified to the next round. We are very happy with that” said libero Pawel Zatorski, who did a very good job in reception and defense. The latter was one of the keys to win the game for PGE Skra. “We won the promotion after just 2 sets and after that, as everyone noticed, we just lost our concentration. However the tie-break was full of emotions, something that was good for the fans” Zatorski adds.
The Polish team started the game with a 3:0 away victory in Germany already in the pocket; however, the home players remembered very well how tight the opening two sets had been in the first leg. The first set in Belchatow was also very tight: the first time when one of the teams managed to build a two-point advantage was after the second technical time-out, when Daniel Plinski’s block put PGE Skra to the front (17:15). In the end of the set, full of serving errors, Nicolas Uriarte appeared on the field, coming back after an injury. The Argentinean setter’s serves helped build a 22:19 advantage for the home side and win a crucial opening set.
The guests kept on fighting in the second set and took the lead 13:10, forcing the mentor of PGE Skra, Miguel Angel Falasca, to ask for a time-out. The remarks from the coach proved to be valuable as two consecutive blocks and a powerful serve by Mariusz Wlazly helped PGE claim the lead back (14:13); that lead was comfortably maintained and widened by the end of the set (25-19). Tom Strohbach was the player with the biggest problems in reception while PGE Skra had out-blocked their opponents 8:1 after two sets.
“It was not an easy match; we had to stay focused all the time. The Germans played well in attack and in defense, so that it was not easy to score points for us. They were diving for every ball. We did well as the team and I am happy with that performance” commented Mariusz Wlazly. The PGE Skra captain scored 13 points (including 4 blocks and 2 aces), despite playing only in the opening sets.
After the second set, when PGE Skra had secured their promotion to the next round, both coaches made a couple of changes in their line-ups and there was no more tension in the game. Philipp Jankowski, Ewoud Gommans, Genadi Sokolov and Marien Moreau got the chance to play from Mihai Paduretu, while Miguel Falasca put Jedrzej Mackowiak and Wojciech Wlodarczyk in and moved Samuele Tuia to the opposite position. Despite these substitutions the third set was similar to the previous two but this time the final rush belonged to the guests. Moreau did well in attack and led Generali to win this set 25-22. The Frenchman and Gommans led the German team also on their way to claim the fourth set with another 25-22. The Dutchman had some problems in reception, but he showed great skills in attack.
It was the end of the tie-break what made over 2’000 fans at the Energy hall stand on their feet. A 14:12 lead was not enough for the Germans to win the match. PGE Skra saved 14 match points and earned their first chance to claim the game when Wlodarczyk finished a counter-attack to make it 27:26. One chance to win the match turned out to be enough for the Polish side which ended the game with a block.
“We did our utmost, however PGE Skra was just too strong for us. Their blocks made the difference; experience was another crucial aspect on the Polish side. But it is worth stressing that we had our chances to win this second leg” said Mihai Paduretu. Ewoud Gommans was the best scorer in Paduretu’s team, registering 18 points in just 3 sets. Moreau and Marcus Boehme added 14 points each, but the German middle-blocker was the man who did not capitalize on a good chance by the score of 26:26 in the tie-break.
Samuele Tuia was the best scorer for the home team with 17 points; Facundo Conte added 16 and Karol Klos another 14 points.
“We have just eliminated a very strong opponent and this is the most important thing we can take from this match. We are through to the next round – it was our aim” stated PGE Skra President Konrad Piechocki.
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