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30/03/2016 23:35
Calzedonia VERONA’s dream of European glory still alive after tie-break win
2016 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Men

Verona, Italy, March 30, 2016. The fairy tale of Italian European Cup rookies Calzedonia VERONA continued on Wednesday night when the men coached by Volleyball legend Andrea Giani provided more than 4,000 home fans with something to cheer about with their 3-2 win (25-18, 27-25, 18-25, 23-25, 15-13) over Russia’s standout Fakel NOVY URENGOY in the first leg of the 2016 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup – Men finals. Calzedonia and Fakel will be locking horns again this coming Sunday to determine the eventual winners of the competition.

Calzedonia took the court with their usual formation of Michele Baranowicz setting opposite Sasa Starovic, Taylor Sander passing alongside Uros Kovacevic, with Aidan Zingel and Simone Anzani in the middle, and Nicola Pesaresi as starting libero. Fakel NOVY URENGOY opened the game with Igor Kolodinskiy setting, Igor Tiurin opposite, Dmitrii Volkov and Egor Kliuka in the passer hitter roles, Vadym Likhosherstov and Ilia Vlasov in the middle and Vladimir Shishkin handling the libero duties.
Calzedonia claimed the first break, drawing away to an early 8-3 lead thanks to a run of five unanswered points. Fakel recouped some of the deficit with two aces from Kolodinskiy. From there Calzedonia’s reception improved and Baranowicz was able to run the side-out as he pleased, favouring his outside spikers Sander and Kovacevic. It was the American star who closed out the first set 25-18 against a well-formed triple block.
It was Fakel who came out stronger at the beginning of the second set as Likhosherstov’s tough jump float serving helped set up an early lead (5-2). Some smart containment blocking allowed Calzedonia to produce and convert several transition opportunities that levelled the scores at 7-7.  For most of the middle of the set teams traded blows until a Sander block handed a mini-break to Calzedonia (18-16). The advantage was short-lived as consecutive attack errors by the home team again levelled the scores and set up a tight finish to the second set. After both teams were forced to save set points a Kovacevic (100% in attack for the set) pipe attack gave Calzedonia a 2-0 lead (27-25).
The third set started evenly with both teams keeping errors low until Calzedonia earned a three-point break leading up to the first technical time-out. Again Fakel promptly levelled the scores after a string of tough serves by Tiurin put the Calzedonia passers under pressure. A new look Fakel with Valentin Bezrukov and Ivan Iakovlev on the court in place of Kolodinskiy and Vlasov forced a timeout from Giani at 19-16 for the Russian team. Nothing was able to break the rhythm of Fakel who maintained a comfortable lead until the end, taking out the set 25-18.
Russian coach Igor Chutchev confirmed the team that finished the third set and they quickly took a 3-1 lead.  This was reduced by consecutive stuff blocks, the first by Anzani, the second signed by Kovacevic.  However, more strong blocking and good transition play from Fakel saw them break away again to a four-point lead which they then extended to six points at the time-out (16-10). At this point the long awaited response came from Calzedonia as they won six points in a row including consecutive stuff blocks from Luca Spirito, on the court in place of Baranowicz (16-16). An attack error by Sander broke the deadlock and handed the advantage to Fakel who levelled at 2-2 thanks to a Calzedonia service error (25-23).
Calzedonia began the fifth set well and opened up a small lead through an Anzani block on Iakovlev. Fakel fought back and kept Calzedonia to a one point deficit at the change of ends (8-7).  A Kovacevic block broke the deadlock to give Calzedonia a 12-10 lead. A missed opportunity by Anzani to convert an overpass at 13-11 did not prove costly as a Fakel service error handed the win to the home team (15-13).

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