Skra comes back twice to edge past VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN in CEV Cup Challenge Round
2014 CEV Volleyball Cup - Men
Friedrichshafen, Germany, February 5, 2014. Poland’s multiple champions PGE Skra BELCHATOW fought for more than two hours on Wednesday night at the ZF Arena before they eventually edged past hosts VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN 3:2 (17-25, 25-21, 17-25, 25-18, and 15-10) coming back twice from one set down to claim an away victory in the Challenge Round of the 2014 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men.
Bulgaria’s Valentin Bratoev – who had driven Germany’s champions BERLIN Recycling Volleys to the brick of despair on Sunday in the Bundesliga – set the tempo of the game in the first set and especially with his strong serve he contributed to a 16:12 lead at the second technical time-out. He was well supported by team captain Max Günthör whose blocks moved the score up to 20:16 before Baptiste Geiler sealed the final 25-17 with an ace and two spikes.
However, PGE Skra did not surrender that easily and after stabilizing their reception the guests from Poland set the pace of the game in the second set (4:8). Bratoev and Günthör were able to keep the score close for the home side (7:8, 9:11) but Skra widened the gap again by the second technical time-out (12:16). As they were taking more and more risks to trigger a comeback, the players mentored by Stelian Moculescu started making mistakes trailing 17:22 and even though Ventceslav Simeonov scored two aces for the home side, he also could not prevent Skra from pocketing this set (21-25).
Things changed once more in the third set where VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN opened with a 4:1 break and by serving strong the “Häfler” comfortably controlled the game at the first technical time-out (8:3). However, Skra fought their way back on excellent serving by Facundo Conte (9:7) and Moculescu was forced into a time-out. He got the reaction he wanted especially by his middle-blockers Günthör and Viktor Yosifov, with VfB pulling away to lead 16:11 at the second technical time-out. Skra tried to respond with their stellar opposite player Mariusz Wlazly but in the end it was home captain Max Günthör to hammer it down from the middle to close the set at 25-17.
The head coach of Skra Miguel Angel Falasca decided to substitute Conte with French veteran Stéphane Antiga in the fourth set, thereby paving the way for an early lead of his guys (2:5). Still VfB was not that impressed and responded by flipping the charts around at the first mandatory stop (8:7). After a controversial decision by the first referee and a yellow card to VfB setter Nikola Jovovic, Skra changed gear with Samuele Tuia breaking through the German block to make it 14:18. Moculescu stopped the game and he apparently found the right words for his guys for they reduced their gap to only two points (17:19) before Skra got back control of the operations to call for the tie-break (18-25).
VfB trailed right from the go there (4:8), Hungary’s Roland Gergye came in for Bratoev but he also could not help his team get back on track (7:12). Skra only needed to wait for another few errors by the hosts to start their celebrations (10-15) and wait now for the return game coming up next week in Poland.
“We have seen a superb Volleyball match tonight” commented Stelian Moculescu. “We have to acknowledge that Skra is a very good team. And with that kind of opponent you can’t afford making as many mistakes as we did tonight” he continued.
“It was a very difficult game” said Skra mentor Miguel Angel Falasca. “They served really strong and we did not show our best tonight. However, I am happy that in the end we could win this game.”
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