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08/11/2017 22:28
PERUGIA claim hard-fought victory as SASTAMALA make history for Finland
2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men

Luxembourg, November 8, 2017. Last year’s silver medal winners Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA had to work hard to claim their first victory in the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Men since hosts Shakhtior SOLIGORSK put up a real fight in the matchup with the star-studded Italian team. Ivan Zaytsev & Co. eventually stormed to a 3-1 victory but they realised that their Belarusian opponent is a hard nut to crack. Finland’s Ford Store Levoranta SASTAMALA rallied to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Jihostroj CESKE BUDEJOVICE and are now two sets away from what would be a historic qualification to the pool stage of Europe’s elite club competition. As many as six teams claimed away victories – thus reflecting the same trend observed the night before in the women’s division. 

ACH Volley LJUBLJANA (SLO) vs. Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK (RUS) 0-3 (26-28, 22-25, 19-25)

•    Despite still recovering from a knee injury, György Grozer featured on the starting six of Lokomotiv.
•    After levelling the score at 10-all in the first set, ACH Volley did the same at 15-15 to make up for four points in a row previously scored by Lokomotiv. The set remained close through to the end with the visitors from Siberia eventually sealing a 28-26 win.
•    ACH Volley came back from 4-8 to 9-9 in the second set, but trailed by four points at the second technical time-out. The Slovenian champions closed in at 18-19 but a Russian time-out broke their rhythm and Lokomotiv ultimately secured a 25-22 win.
•    ACH Volley claimed an early lead in the third set but soon found themselves 6-10 down. They drew level at 12-all and the teams exchanged the lead a few times before Lokomotiv scored five points in a row to seal their 3-0 victory.

Matic Videčnik, player of ACH Volley: “We fought as much as we could today but I think we made too many errors at the beginning of the game. We let them claim a 4 to 5-point-advantage and we had to chase them throughout the entire match. We have to fix this, because with their experience and quality they know how to play intense ends of a set, where every point counts.”

Zoran Kedačič, head coach of ACH Volley: “I am happy with the fighting spirit and energy we displayed on the court, but I am not satisfied with the result. It does not reflect the real story of the match, because we were close to emerging victorious in every set. We had our chances but against teams like Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK you have to take them, otherwise they punish you immediately. On Sunday, when playing in Russia, I hope we will take these opportunities.”

György Grozer, star player of Lokomotiv and top scorer with 18 points: “It was a tough and interesting match. I am satisfied with my comeback to the CEV Champions League. Today we did not play our best but we showed a good game in the crucial moments. This 3-0 victory is what really matters and I hope we can repeat this result on Sunday at home in Novosibirsk.”

Shakhtior SOLIGORSK (BLR) vs. Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA (ITA) 1-3 (25-23, 20-25, 17-25, 16-25)

•    Ivan Zaytsev recorded as many as six aces for PERUGIA.
•    The visitors from Italy finished the match on 12 blocks.
•    Middle blocker Marko Podrascanin top scored in the match with 17 points for PERUGIA. Opposite Uladzimir Zhyhmont recorded 13 for SOLIGORSK.
•    Among the hosts, middle blocker Viachaslau Shmat stood out in attack with a 62% success rate.

Viktar Beksha, head coach of Shakhtior SOLIGORSK: “We are not disappointed with this game. We did lead from start to end of the first set and did so for most of the second set as well. However, PERUGIA have an experienced team and they can come out of any difficult situation. Now, we will prepare for the re-match in Italy.”
Andrei Radziuk, outside hitter of Shakhtior: “If we want to perform at a high level, we have to play this kind of challenging matches. Our start to the match was very good, especially in attack. We wanted to show a solid performance and good skills, and I think we did so today.”

Lorenzo Bernardi, head coach of Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA: “The first set did not go well for us, and we had problems, especially in attack. This match proved that it is necessary to remain focussed from start to end. The third and fourth sets went a lot better for us.”
Ivan Zaytsev, star player of PERUGIA: “We were not that effective in attack whereas our opponent looked in great shape. There are no outsiders at this stage of the Champions League. It was a great game and our serve was especially good.”

Posojilnica AICH/DOB (AUT) vs. Fenerbahce SK ISTANBUL (TUR) 0-3 (17-25, 22-25, 22-25)

•    After a close start (5-5), Fenerbahce edged ahead at 11-7; the hosts closed in at 11-13, but the Turkish team piled up a few more points (19-13) and eventually took the first set 25-17.
•    AICH/DOB came back strong in the second set leading the way 8-6, but it didn’t take long until the visitors clawed back to set the pace of the game (11-9). The locals tried to keep the score in balance (16-16) showing excellent serving and spiking, which resulted in a thrilling neck-to-neck race (19-19) that the players from Turkey eventually closed at 25-22.
•    The Turkish heavyweight stretched that momentum to the early stages of the third set by pressuring the home side from the service line to lead 8-6 at the first technical time-out.  AICH/DOB tried to stand the Turkish challenge with some good actions (11-11), but Fenerbahce was always a step ahead and widened their lead to three points (16-13). The Austrian underdogs were able to fight back (21-21), but Fenerbahce showed their determination to wrap it up and cruised to a well-deserved straight-sets victory (25-22).
•    More than 1,200 fans witnessed spectacular actions and thrilling rallies at the Sportpark in Klagenfurt.

Martin Micheu, Team Manager of Posojilnica: “We could partly live up to the expectations in set two and three as we served powerfully and spiked with high intensity, but serious difficulties in reception prevented us from achieving a victory over the Turkish opponent.”

Veljko Basic, head coach of Fenerbahce: “AICH/DOB showed a good team spirit and were able to keep the score tight at times, but we were in control for most of the match and managed to edge the opposition in all aspects of the game.”

Omonia NICOSIA (CYP) vs. JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel (POL) 0-3 (26-28, 13-25, 16-25)

•    2014 bronze medal winners JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel are back among Europe’s Volleyball elite after three years and celebrated this feat in style with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Omonia NICOSIA.
•    After a close start (5-5), JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel scored seven points in a row before Omonia stepped up their efforts, improving their defence and blocking game, levelling the score at 17-all. After a close race, the visitors from Poland emerged victorious at 28-26.
•    The second and third sets were a lot more one-sided, with JASTRZEBSKI conceding only 13 and 16 points, respectively to the Cypriot team.

•    Poland’s rising Volleyball star Maciej Muzaj top scored for the Polish side with 14 points, thus winning the duel with Omonia’s star player, Mory Sidibé (11).
•    JASTRZEBSKI made the difference from the service line, scoring as many as 12 aces.
•    The Polish team need to take two sets from the re-match at home to secure their progression to the pool stage of the competition where they would join PGE Skra BELCHATOW and Zaksa KEDZIERZYN-KOZLE to bring the Polish contingent up to three.
•    More than 1,000 spectators watched the game, while fair play and good sportsmanship dominated the atmosphere in Eleftheria Stadium.

Vojvodina NS Seme NOVI SAD (SRB) vs. Spacer’s TOULOUSE (FRA) 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-21)

•    Božidar Vućićević and David Mehić top scored for the home side with 12 points apiece.
•    Bruno Temponi Araujo scored 15 points for Spacer’s TOULOUSE in their losing effort.
•    Luka Basic, playing for Spacer’s TOULOUSE, has a connection with Vojvodina. His uncle, Djuro, won the Yugoslav national league with the team from Novi Sad back in 1988.
•    Many elite sportsmen from handball, basketball, water polo came together to support Vojvodina. The audience included many former Volleyball players as well, such as Ivan Miljkovic, Vasa Mijic, Slobodan Boskan, Vladimir Batez and Marko Samardzic.

Nedzad Osmankac, head coach of Vojvodina NS Seme NOVI SAD: “I am very satisfied with this game, we played very well and motivated. However, this is only the first part of this round.”

Stéphane Sapinart, head coach of Spacer’s TOULOUSE: “We made many mistakes, but I hope we can play better in Toulouse.” 

Abiant GRONINGEN (NED) vs. Noliko MAASEIK (BEL) 1-3 (19-25, 25-22, 17-25, 22-25)

•    Some 1,200 fans attended the ‘derby’ between teams from the Low Countries.
•    The team captain of Abiant GRONINGEN, Wytze Kooistra successfully finished 75% of his attempts in attack.
•    Jolan Cox of Noliko MAASEIK was the ‘man of the match’ for the winning side scoring as many as 21 points.
•    Stijn van Schie piled up 24 points for the home side.
•    The match coincided with the first time the organisers used LED boards at the local venue in Groningen, Alfa-College.
•    A few fans from Germany’s SVG LÜNEBURG attended the match as well, rooting for Carlos Mora Sabaté and Erik Mattson, who previously played for their favourite team and now wear the shirt of Abiant GRONINGEN. 

Carlos Mora Sabaté, setter of Abiant GRONINGEN: “We are all a little bit frustrated about the result. We expected to win this match. We had our chances. The last set, we were leading 17-13 and our own mistakes made the difference in the end. We are a fairly young team, and this is one of the reasons why things went wrong for us. Another reason is that the Belgian league is a bit tougher than the Dutch competition, so they are more used to playing this kind of competitive matches than us.”

Arjan Taaij, head coach of Abiant GRONINGEN: “I am pretty disappointed. We could have done better. However, if we look at the game as a whole, the result is okay. Noliko MAASEIK was a bit better. The crucial moment came by the score of 17-13 for us in the fourth set, where we did really have a chance of taking the match to a tiebreak. If you lead 17-13 and you end up trailing 17-19, that is just your own fault. We made five mistakes and the game was over. The last part of the fourth set was the key moment of the game. We were not smarter enough in the end.”

Neftohimic 2010 BURGAS (BUL) vs. VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN (GER) 1-3 (19-25, 19-25, 28-26, 18-25)

•    Germany’s multiple national champions cruised to a 3-1 victory in their matchup with the Bulgarian rookies.
•    Oleksandr Statsenko top scored in the match for BURGAS with 19 points, with Daniel Malescha pacing VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN with 17.
•    The visitors edged their opponent in blocks (10 vs. 6) as well as in aces (5 vs. 4).
•    VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN are now two sets away from joining domestic rivals BERLIN Recycling Volleys in the pool stage of the competition.

Ford Store Levoranta SASTAMALA (FIN) vs. Jihostroj CESKE BUDEJOVICE (CZE) 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-15)

•    Ford Store Levoranta SASTAMALA routed Jihostroj CESKE BUDEJOVICE 3-0 in the first leg of this double header. The second match will take place on Sunday in the Czech Republic.
•    Ford Store Levoranta played their best match of the season, delivering an outstanding attacking and blocking performance. Their defence game was excellent as well.

Sami Kurttila, head coach of Ford Store Levoranta SASTAMALA: “I am proud of course of the team. This was our best match this season. My players executed what we had planned. I can be only satisfied. Our attacks were excellent. The players did everything they could.”

Mikko Esko, captain of Ford Store Levoranta SASTAMALA: “We really wanted to win and you could see it from the players and their attitude. We defended many balls and all players really wanted to win. Now we are halfway through but we must win the second match too. We are in a good shape and we must focus on the match coming up on Sunday. Both teams will have a lot of pressure there.”

René Dvorak, head coach of Jihostroj CESKE BUDEJOVICE: “The preparation of our team was good, but we could not play as well as we can. We were not surprised that the home team played so well. We knew that it is a great team. Next Sunday we have to be calm. Today we had too much stress. We also need to attack better.”

Radek Mach, captain of Jihostroj CESKE BUDEJOVICE: “We lost because the team could not play as well as it can. The setter of SASTAMALA is very experienced and we could not block their attacks well enough.”

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