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20/03/2016 20:08
Calzedonia VERONA celebrate historic qualification for Challenge Cup finals
2016 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Men

Lisbon, Portugal, March 20, 2016. Rookies Calzedonia VERONA of Italy stormed back from the 3-2 home loss they had suffered on Wednesday to claim the re-match with Portugal’s Benfica LISBOA by 3-1 (25-15, 19-25, 25-17, 25-14) and progress to the final stage of the 2016 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup – Men to play there Russia’s Fakel NOVY URENGOY. Calzedonia kind of put an end to the negative record of Italian teams in their matchups with Benfica since Portugal’s multiple champions had stopped the run of CMC RAVENNA in last year’s Challenge Cup semis. The final matches will be contested on March 30 in Italy and April 3 in Russia.

After recording a 3-2 away victory in Italy, Benfica LISBOA were hopeful they would be making their second consecutive appearance in the finals of the Challenge Cup. Only 12 months ago they had upset CMC RAVENNA in the semis before losing to Serbia’s Vojvodina NS Seme NOVI SAD in the final stage of the competition.

However, just as it had happened a few days before in Italy, Benfica did not start the match in the best way and Calzedonia VERONA cruised to a dominant 25-15 win in the opening set.

As they had to come from behind, the ‘Eagles’ – as the players of Benfica are nicknamed – stepped up their efforts, performing with more intensity in the second set, eventually tying the match (25-19) and edging the team that had finished in fourth place the regular season of the highly competitive Italian national league.

However, the Italians got back control of the match in the third set, which they claimed by 25-17. Benfica had to fight their way back in the fourth if they wanted to stay in contention for a spot in the final, but even though they were passionately supported by their many fans in attendance, they failed to do so, as Calzedonia VERONA sealed their 3-1 win (25-14) and with it celebrated a historic qualification for the finals in their first ever European Cup campaign.  

The team captain of Benfica, Hugo Gaspar, said: “We are sad because this is definitely not the result we wanted and we had hoped for. We did everything we could but ended up losing to a great team. There is a rally that ultimately decided everything and if this had gone our way, the story of the match would have been different. We should nevertheless be proud because we have shown once more that good Volleyball is being played in Portugal. Benfica has been making history and I want to thank our fans for their support as they turned up in large numbers today.”

José Jardim, head coach of Benfica, said: “We are disappointed but at the same time proud of ourselves! Obviously this is not the result we wanted, but we knew we were playing against a great team and we gave it all to try and win. We claimed a historic and sensational triumph in Italy and today we failed at some key moments, which eventually decided the fate of the match. After levelling the score at 12-all, we lost one crucial point and got a red card which kind of lifted VERONA. Nevertheless I am proud of what we did in this competition, we have worked really hard to make it this far and we definitely showed our worth.”

Andrea Giani, head coach of Calzedonia VERONA, said: “It was a balanced, tough, very emotional and intense round, where we played a great team. After the game in Verona we analysed Benfica as thoroughly as possible and this is a very important victory, which we achieved playing against a great club.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

News nr. 6 of 47
30/03/2016 11:48:00
Calzedonia VERONA feel all the excitement of their first ever European final
20/03/2016 18:06:00
Two sets enough for Fakel to secure ticket to Challenge Cup finals

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