PGE Skra BELCHATOW already set for Challenge Round
2014 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men
Munich, Germany, January 16, 2014. PGE Skra BELCHATOW all but secured a spot in the Challenge Round of the 214 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men after winning the away game of its quarterfinal with Generali UNTERHACHING. The seven-time Polish champions beat the current leaders of the Bundesliga in straight sets (29-27, 31-29, and 25-17) to get the right edge for the return game coming up next week in Poland.
However, Generali UNTERHACHING wouldn’t go out without a fight. With the crowd of 927 repeatedly jumping to its feet, the hosts played with lots of enthusiasm and poise as head coach Mihai Paduretu had promised. Only after narrowly missing out on winning either one of the first two sets a visibly heartbroken Generali team was no match for BELCHATOW which finished the match after 87 minutes with its first match point. Captain Mariusz Wlazly scored 21 points for the winners, while Simon Hirsch was Generali’s best player with 15 points.
Paduretu was visibly angry during and after the match as he spoke frankly about what in his opinion were repeatedly false decisions by the referees in critical situations at the end of the first and second set. “I haven’t seen anything like that in the last ten years. Without wanting to sound arrogant: we should have been up 2:0, and then the whole thing would have developed in a totally different way. The team and the crowd would have deserved that”, he said. Simon Hirsch voiced the same opinion, but also admitted that “in some situations there were one or two many mistakes in our game.”
There is still the second leg left on January 23, but it would need something close to a miracle for UNTERHACHING to make it to the Challenge round where German rival VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN is waiting for the winner of this quarterfinal. However, the win for the visitors looked easier than it was. Though trailing for the second half of the first set by two or three points UNTERHACHING fought back – only to squander two set points at 24:23 and 26:25. BELCHATOW got the better end by finishing the set after a couple of disputed points and 32 minutes with its fourth set point.
The second set mirrored the first – only this time the Bavarians led most of the way, at times by as much as four points up until 22:18. However, they couldn’t hold on to the lead and at 25:24 and 28:27 gave away two set points again. And again BELCHATOW finally made use of its fourth set point. After that UNTERHACHING slowly lost its energy to keep up with a team that Paduretu regards as a disguised Champions League competitor. The side around head coach Miguel Angel Falasca proved to be just that and wouldn’t let the hosts back into the game. Without ever trailing again BELCHATOW needed just 22 minutes to win the third set.
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