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19/12/2013 19:00
Stroitel and Shakhtior make Challenge Cup 1/8 finals to go for Belarusian derby
2014 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Men

Molodechno, Belarus, December 19, 2013. Two teams from the Republic of Belarus, i.e. Stroitel MINSK and Shakhtior SOLIGORSK, claimed this week their ticket to the 1/8 finals of the 2014 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup – Men after they both edged opponents from the Netherlands. The third team representing the Republic of Belarus in the same competition, Kommunalnik GRODNO, edged Greece’s Ethnikos ALEXANDROPOULIS 3:2 (26-24, 25-17, 19-25, 14-25, and 15-12) but could not make it to the next round as their opponents had won the first match with the score of 3:1.   
On Wednesday Stroitel edged Landstede ZWOLLE 3:2 (25-13, 23-25, 25-21, 17-25, and 16-14); everything was just easy for the hosts in the opening set (25-13) where Siarhei Akulich and Andrei Radziuk performed extremely well for Stroitel in attack as well as behind the service line. However, their guests from the Netherlands were able to win the second and fourth set showing very good blocks and excellent serving to call for the tie-break. The fifth set was very close and dramatic with Cuban opposite Yosvany Hernandez pacing the home side on their way to a 3:2 victory.   

On Thursday Shakhtior SOLIGORSK – the team that is representing Belarus in the Russian Superleague – got to play another Dutch team, namely FirmX Orion DOETINCHEM. The home heroes had already won the first game in the Netherlands with the score of 3:1 (25-23, 25-18, 20-25, and 25-19) and they showed once more their superiority thereby pocketing a ticket to the next round. Still DOETINCHEM was able to put on a very good fight with their setter Pim Kamps and opposite Niels Koomen paving the way for a 16:11 lead in the first set. Shakhtior responded by playing superbly in attack as well as in defense flipping the charts around (21:20) and some more errors by the Dutch side contributed the final 25-23 for SOLIGORSK.  
Shakhtior set the tempo of the game right from the start of the second set mainly via their middle blockers Andriy Levchenko and Maksim Marozau. Artur Drapchynski also did a very good job in defense and reception helping the home side cruise to a comfortable 25-18. Shakhtior stretched that same tempo also to the third set and even though their head coach Aliaksandr Pazniakou tried out some substitutions, it did not impact on the quality of their game. Viachaslau Charapovich put an end to the game with an ace thereby sealing a 3:0 home victory for SOLIGORSK (25-23, 25-18, and 25-17).

“Though Orion has good skills for us it was an easy game” Shakhtior head coach Pazniakou said. “Our players are more experienced and they have more power, especially in attack. We were able to control the operations and did not let the game slip away from our hands.”

Shakhtior will play their compatriots of Stroitel in the next round of the CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup. It will be a remake from the Championship series of last year’s national league where Stroitel was eventually crowned Belarus national champion after five matches. These sides also crossed their ways in the semifinals of the national cup last November and again Stroitel had the upper hand but only after five and close sets (17-25, 31-29, 25-22, 17-25, and 15-12). Therefore the derby coming up in January and prolonging this rivalry shall be very interesting and exciting.

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