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07/12/2017 12:52
Calcit KAMNIK come from behind to edge AJACCIO in CEV Cup fixture
2018 CEV Volleyball Cup - Men

Šempeter, Slovenia, December 7, 2017. After a dramatic five-set match, Calcit KAMNIK managed to edge GFC AJACCIO VB (25-22, 19-25, 21-25, 25-15, 16-14) in the 16th Finals of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men. The second match will take place in Ajaccio, Corsica, on Wednesday, December 20.

For the second year in a row, the Slovenian team played a French opponent in the CEV Cup. Although AJACCIO is not as strong a rival as it was TOURS VB last season, the visitors were, at least on a paper, the favourites of this match. The game took place in Šempeter, since Calcit KAMNIK cannot play European Cup matches in their hometown, as their stadium does not fulfil the requirements set for international competitions. AJACCIO brought only ten players to Slovenia. Serbian blocker Dejan Radić and Spanish Jose Luiz Gonzalez stayed at home, however French national players Maile Takaniko and Timothée Carle and former national team players Ludovic Castard and libero Jean-François Exiga joined the journey to Slovenia.

The hosts, who had lost their last national league game on Saturday, bravely started the match and were quickly five points ahead (11-6) with Maxson Pereira’s sovereign serves. Before the second technical break, the French closed in (13:12), yet with three points in a row, Ribič’s team led again by four. The home side managed to keep the lead until the end of the first set. Pereira scored seven points for the home team in the first part of the game, including the last one.

The second set was more balanced as none of the teams had a significant advantage before the second technical break. With two points, Calcit were in the lead, but not for long. The visitors took advantage of the hosts’ mistakes and scored for 20-17. By the end of the set, the home team could only score two points more.

After the lost set, Kamnik’s players started the third one excellently, taking the lead with 6-1. They retained it until the first technical break. Soon it was 9-3 but as in the previous set, there was a span filled with bad actions for the Slovenians, who had difficulties in finishing their attacks. On the other hand, Leonardo Cruz Miranda led AJACCIO to level the score at 17-all. At the end of the third set, the French were more consistent and they doubled their lead in the match. 

However, the team from KAMNIK did not surrender at all. Instead of team captain Andrej Štembergar Zupan, Primož Vidmar started in the fourth set, and he turned out to be coach Ribič’s hidden joker from the sleeve. The French blockers did not find a solution for Vidmar’s attacks, who successfully finished 88% of his attempts. By the second technical break, Calcit claimed a seven-point advantage, and the last rally finished with Žan Novljan’s stunning block. Unlike in the second and third set, the Slovenians did not give up this time and a tiebreak was to decide the winner of this game.  

In the decisive fifth set, Calcit trailed by as many as five points (6-11). Vidmar and Sašo Štalekar made a turn in favour of the home side, though. The tallest Slovenian player, Štalekar, was responsible for breaking the tie at 12. Calcit defended every ball while Pereira and Domen Kotnik led the home team to a well-deserved win.

Gašper Ribič, head coach of Calcit KAMNIK: “Fighting and persistence have this time been rewarded, but as a coach I am worried that in the second and thirds set we again loosened our game and allowed the opponent to take the advantage and eventually win two sets. On the other hand, in the fifth set we were the ones with the back against the wall. Each victory on the international scene against such a quality team means a lot. I think this victory came at the right moment, although we will have to find a solution for our swings in the game.”

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