The reigning champions of Zenit Kazan win the game in the tie-break against Perugia to earn an advantage after the first match of the CEV Champions League semifinals!
Zenit Kazan opened the match in a much better way, controlling the situation on the court and so winning the first set.
In the second set, Kazan had a set point, but after some good serve and defense, Perugia made a 3-0 scoring run to tie the battle.
Kazan was again in a good position until the middle of the third set, however Perugia managed to reduce the advantage and even to tie the score. Great performance of Zenit Kazan, which took the 2-1 lead!
PalaBarton in Perugia was very hot and the home team didn’t want to let the rival win the game in four sets: so they pushed the game to the tie-break, that was an incredible high-level battle. Zenit Kazan deservedly won this match, and Earvin Ngapeth was the best with 22 points, while Matt Anderson also contributed with 20. In the home team, Wilfredo Leon scored 25 points, while Aleksandar Atanasijevic ended the match with 24 points.
Filippo Lanza, outside hitter for Sir Colussi Sicoma Perugia: “Basically nothing missed tonight. With the benefit of hindsight, we could have maybe served better in some cases and we could have received better in others. It was a great volleyball match from both sides. To lose this game surely disturbs us, but we will do our best to win next Wednesday in Kazan.”
Matthew Anderson, outside hitter for Zenit Kazan: “Our strength tonight was to forget about the big points. Leon, Atanasijevic, De Cecco and Lanza, they all played very well making big and spectacular points. We cannot get stuck on these moments. What we need today was to make one point and move to the next. Sometimes they served very strongly, making multiple points, but we cannot get frustrated because it is what the Champions League is all about. So it was a very good match and I hope that a good match will be played in Kazan next week too.”
Episode one is over. But still everything can happen, and given the strength of the squads of both teams, Perugia still have nearly equal odds to advance to the Super Finals in Berlin on May 18.
“Victory over the ‘Dream Team’, as journalists call Perugia, is worth a lot, especially with such an atmosphere in the hall. The whole team survived, well done. But you understand that this victory, especially with this result, doesn’t mean anything? You can’t even call it a step to finals,” said Zenit head coach Vladimir Alekno.
“I’m very happy for Earvin. He’s a fighter by nature, even an advertising panel can’t stop him. This is a character that helps people win,” he added.
“Matches like this, when the coach doesn’t have to say special words in the locker room, are why we play. This is the most wonderful thing about volleyball. I tried to enjoy every rally, every moment. I love to play in Italy, the fans are crazy here and the atmosphere in the stands is great. We need to stay focused. We know that Perugia is a big team and it can come and win 3-0 in Kazan. Yes, we did an important job, but the main match will happen in a week,” Zenit’s hero Earvin Ngapeth stated.
CEV Champions League, semifinals:
PGE Skra Belchatow – Lube Civitanova 0-3 (14:25, 20:25, 23:25)
Perugia – Zenit Kazan 2-3 (22:25, 26:24, 25:27, 25:20, 13:15)
Source and Photos: CEV, sport.business-gazeta.ru.