Guberniya makes CEV Cup final to crown first appearance in European competitions
2014 CEV Volleyball Cup - Men
Belchatow, Poland, March 2, 2014. Russian rookies Guberniya NIZHNIY NOVGOROD crown their first participation in the European Cups with the right to fight for the title in the 2014 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men. Later this month they will be playing France’s PARIS Volley in the final. The Russian team achieved this feat after edging once more – as they had done last Wednesday at home – Poland’s PGE Skra BELCHATOW at the tie-break (21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 18-25, and 16-14). It was a great volleyball night at the Energia hall in Belchatow with two outstanding wing-spikers – Facundo Conte and Milos Nikic – standing out for Skra and Guberniya respectively.
Skra set the pace of the game in the first set doing a great job with their serves and hitting hard to close it by the score of 25-21. However, Guberniya also helped the home side as the Russians took many risks from the service zone, this resulting into 11 errors for NIZHNIY NOVGOROD.
Guberniya head coach Plamen Konstantinov was very disappointed with the performance of his players and had a long talk before the start of the second set. Apparently he delivered a good speech because the Russian players stopped making silly mistakes and their block turned into a real wall that the spikers of Skra could not breach. Alexey Kuleshov showed his experience at this level registering four blocks and killing seven out of eight attacks in the first and second sets. Their setter Mikko Esko used the middle blockers as often as possible and after claiming the lead early on, Guberniya could hold on to it to draw level in sets (25-19).
The guests from Russia continued to push also in the third set so that Skra had to take many risks with their serve. This did not work and Guberniya could capitalize on the slim margin they had claimed halfway through the set to cruise to the final 25-23 and provisional 2:1. Skra performed strong in the late phases of this set, survived three set balls for their opponents but their opposite Mariusz Wlazly could not say the final word at the end of a long rally which proved to be the last of this set.
As they were leading 2:1, Guberniya had made sure Skra had to go for the golden set in order to claim that much coveted ticket to the final. This probably affected their concentration in the fourth set where Facundo Conte put on a personal show for the likes of Skra. The Argentine was the key player there and helped the home side call for the tie-break but his effort was not enough to win also the fifth set. Conte scored 27 points in the end and successfully killed 21 attacks out of 33, adding one ace and five blocks to his personal tally. Mariusz Wlazly finished the game with 15 while Stéphane Antiga registered 14.
Nikolay Pavlov paced Guberniya with 21 points while Russian middle blockers Alexey Kuleshov and Alexey Ostapenko helped their side with 18 and 13 respectively.
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