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29/03/2016 23:20
BERLIN claim dramatic tie-break win over SURGUT in CEV Cup finals first round
2016 CEV Volleyball Cup - Men

Berlin, Germany, March 29, 2016. By edging Russia’s standout Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT 3-2 (28-26, 16-25, 25-17, 20-25, 15-11) in front of 5,853 spectators at Max-Schmeling-Halle in the first leg of the 2016 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men finals, Germany’s national cup winners BERLIN Recycling Volleys keep their hopes alive of claiming a first international title in their history. However, as shown in the semi-final re-match against Dinamo MOSCOW, the Russians will be fighting with everything they have in order to turn the odds this coming Saturday, April 2 when hosting the second and final episode of this fixture.  

5,853 spectators came to see the first European Cup final match contested by the BR Volleys at Max-Schmeling-Halle. However, using their powerful serves and attacks the visitors managed to put the home side under pressure right from the start and to claim an early 8-3 lead in the opening set. As they showed more consistency with their reception and were driven by a strong service series delivered by Paul Lotman, the home side could close the gap (8-9) following a 5-1 positive run. Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT responded with some strong attacks to extend their lead to four points at 15-11. As they fought back time and again, the BR Volleys proved their determination not to give in, reducing the gap down to one point (14-15). Yet again it was the visitors who could establish a small lead (16-14, 19-16). This small advantage could have paved the way for taking the set, but yet again it was time for Paul Lotman to stand behind the service line. The American outside spiker hammered his service time and again, thus enabling his side to draw level and eventually take a 21-20 lead. After that, an enthralling neck-and-neck race developed with SURGUT still edging ahead by two points towards the end (23-21, 24-22) until the Australian opposite of the home side, Paul Carroll (pictured) – who top scored in the end for the BR Volleys with 23 points – closed the gap by means of a service ace. Still this set had to go into overtime before the local crowd could celebrate a come-from-behind 28-26 win for the BR Volleys.

Apparently spurred on by the bitter loss they had suffered in the first set, Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT demonstrated how they had edged Dinamo MOSCOW in the semis, relentlessly hammering in every attack they killed and every service they sent to the other side of the net. On the other hand, as they evidently struggled in reception, the BR Volleys trailed for most of the set (5-10, 7-14, 8-16, 11-18). As a result, SURGUT could steadily build on their lead and easily run towards a commanding set win (25-16).

Starting out with re-gained focus the home side was able to put on a fight and keep the score close in the early stages of the third set (2-2, 5-5). After good serving contributed by their setter Tsimafei Zhukouski, the BR Volleys edged ahead (8-5, 10-6) and this lead was further extended midway through the set (16-10). Having found their best rhythm, the home side demonstrated what they are really capable of (19-13, 21-15) not allowing SURGUT to come back into this set. Eventually it was Paul Carroll who emphatically ended this set with an ace (25-17).

The fourth set started out as the previous one: both sides put a lot of pressure on their opponent, but the hosts again managed to establish a small lead (7-5, 12-9) that they carried through most of the set (17-15). However, whenever the home side slackened their grip, the visitors were able to come back. SURGUT completed their comeback before edging ahead (21-19, 22-20) and the scenario of a tie-break became more and more realistic. Even though the hosts fought desperately for every ball, Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT were able to hold on to their lead, thus claiming this set 25-20 and extending the match to a fifth set.

As expected, the tie-break turned out to be a reflection of the previous sets with neither side being able to break away (3-3, 5-5, 7-7). The BR Volleys were enthusiastically cheered on by their crowd as they took a first two-point lead (9-7) and at this stage the Russian coach took his first time-out. The home side, however, responded by extending that lead to 11-7. Not able to come back, SURGUT eventually had to accept a bitter loss as the BR Volleys cashed their fourth match ball (15-11).

Roberto Serniotti was evidently pleased with what he got to see on Tuesday night: “I’m happy that we won the match. If we had played this match at the beginning of the season, we would have ended up losing it. However, now we are stronger and we managed to overcome also the difficult moments we were confronted with,” the Italian mentor said.

His team captain Robert Kromm added: “We made some big mistakes, but we could compensate them all. We fought till the end, but on Saturday we will have to raise the level even further,” the outside spiker said looking forward to the re-match on Russian soil.

Click here for further info including detailed stats of the match

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