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19/03/2016 19:50
Gazprom-Ugra storm back to claim golden set win and qualify for CEV Cup finals
2016 CEV Volleyball Cup - Men

Surgut, Russia, March 19, 2016. Russia’s Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT caused a sensation on Saturday afternoon by first cruising to a 3-0 home victory over Dinamo MOSCOW (25-23, 25-20, 25-22) and then by claiming also the golden set that followed (15-11) to secure their progression to the final stage of the 2016 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men. This way Gazprom-Ugra dethroned last year’s gold medallists Dinamo MOSCOW and achieved their best result to date on the European stage.

Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT embarked on some kind of a ‘mission impossible’ after last Tuesday they had suffered a 3-0 heavy loss in the first round of the semis contested in Moscow. However, SURGUT caught a promising start claiming an early 5-2 lead in the opening set before keeping a margin of three points to call for the first technical time-out. Gazprom-Ugra were able to hold on to this early lead (16-13) as the respective opposite players – Kostyantin Bakun and Ivan Zaytsev – engaged in a much anticipated duel. However, towards the end of the set some easy mistakes made by SURGUT paved the way with gold for Dinamo and the team from Russia’s capital eventually tied the score. Still, the final rallies of the set were all finished by SURGUT with Ian Iereshchenko and Bakun shaping up the final 25-23 set win for the home team.

The second set followed a similar plot with Gazprom-Ugra leading the way right from the start but this time around they did not provide their opponent with any opportunity to come back, thus securing a 25-20 fairly commanding win with their star player Bakun scoring again the final and deciding points.

One week ago Gazprom-Ugra and Dinamo had crossed their ways in a match on schedule for the Russian Superleague and the team from Surgut had dissipated a 2-0 lead before losing at the tie-break. The home fans were afraid this would happen again but this time around their heroes would not let it go this way. After leading for most of the set, SURGUT had to stand the comeback of their opponents who levelled the score at 17-all after an ace by their middle blocker Igor Filippov. However, three consecutive errors made by Dinamo moved the charts to 20-17 for Gazprom-Ugra and with three straight points by their star opposite Kostyantin Bakun the home team finished it all off at 25-22 to call for the golden set.

This one turned into a real thriller with Dinamo not willing to give in and the score remaining close up to 7-7. SURGUT edged ahead at 8-7 and after the teams switched side of the court, home libero Evgenii Andreev showed some real wonders in defence, while Bakun continued his personal show in attack. Gazprom-Ugra extended their lead to 10-7 following an ace by Iereshchenko, but Dinamo closed in at 10-9 with a service winner by Maxwell Holt. Bakun responded scoring once more and a block on Denis Biryukov moved the tables to 12-9 for the home side. Dinamo seemed not to have any more energy to fight back and Bakun sealed the final 15-11 win for SURGUT by blocking Alexander Boldyrev.

Gazprom-Ugra middle blocker Aleksei Safonov said: “We prepared very carefully for this return match and we knew we would have been able to rely on the great support of our fans. We took the court going for the golden set and kept this goal in our minds all the time. We eventually accomplished our mission, everything went well and we perfectly executed the game plan we had agreed upon. After claiming the re-match 3-0, we just tried to carry on with the same rhythm and intensity and not to stop. Of course we are very happy with the result.”

Home coach Vladimir Kondusov said: “We have been working really hard to prepare for this match and we knew the decision about who qualifies for the final would be taken here in Surgut. The match was an interesting one and in many ways it recalled the one we played just one week ago in the national championship. However, this time around we were able to stand strong through to the end, kept on playing with the same intensity from start to end and the golden set was just the natural sequel of the three we had just won before.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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