Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle and Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia return home from the first leg of the 2020 CEV Volleyball Champions League quarterfinals with a ticket for the semis almost in their pockets: after a fierce battle of the two national champions, that lasted for nearly two and a half hours, Poland’s Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle defeated Russia’s Kuzbass Kemerovo at tie brea. Kuzbass finished Pool B as second-placed, while the team coached by Serbian Nikola Grbić went through a pool stage without losing a single set! Despite the difficult situation, as they trailed twice in sets, Zaksa managed to turn the match around and come one step away from the semifinals: 3-2 (22:25, 26:24, 17:25, 28:26, 16:14). Kamil Semeniuk was the top scorer for Zaksa with 19 points, while Viktor Poletaev, who recently recovered from an injury that separated him from the volleyball for a long time, scored 24 points for Kuzbass.
Georghe Cretu, Kuzbass Kemerovo head coach: “I think that we missed chances. It was a game where we created a lot of opportunities, but we were not able to capitalise on them, especially in the second set. We could have closed this game in a different way. We were fighting incredibly for each ball. It was a great battle, but we should’ve used those important moments. Maybe some cold blood might have helped us to finish those head-to-head situations inside of the sets. It’s clear that game today showed that there are two completely different teams, each one is able to win without doubts. And for this reason I’m really upset that we were not able to take the 5th set. But I’m really happy that we fought like crazy for each ball. We almost did an incredible turn of the fifth set.”
Igor Kobzar, Kuzbass Kemerovo setter: “It’s a surprising kind of volleyball for us. Nobody plays like that in the Russian League. Lots of defense, lots of saves and very small number of power attacks. It’s bitter to lose all the endings, because all the sets that we lost were lost at the end. We know that this result leave us a good chance to get to the next stage. We gotta get up for it.”
Nikola Grbic, Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle head coach: “We played against a really, really strong team, who produced great volleyball for the best part of the game. It was something that we were prepared for, because one of the things that Kuzbass is doing well is serving, so we were expected very aggressive serving from the start and we knew that we need a lot of patience if they started doing well. We had to stay in the game and continue to play without looking at the score, but just to keep carrying on. So we were really good, especially in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th set because we kept them in reception and we played smart. So the only thing that we had to think about is the fifth set, when we were 9-2 up and then just came risking to lose this game they [Kuzbass] started again to take risks. But in the end it’s important that we won, but we must delete this victory and only think about the game that we’ll play in a week from now.”
Benjamin Toniutti, Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle setter: “It was a nice game for the fans. We knew that it would be really difficult to win here, and the atmosphere here is amazing! Maybe we didn’t expect so much to win in the beginning of the game, because at first we were taken by surprise, but then we started to play better. In the fifth set, we were ahead for 6-7 points and in the end we almost lost the game. We are happy to return to Poland with the victory.”
Also italians runners-up Sir Safety Monini Perugia made a huge step towards the semifinals. Vital Heynen’s team beat Russia’s Fakel Novy Urengoy in four sets. Serbian Aleksandar Atanasijević led the winners with 17 points, while his compatriot Marko Podraščanin made an 83% attack (10/12), and Roberto Russo made a 77% attack (10/13). Hungarian Krisztián Pádár scored 21 points, including 5 aces, for Fakel.
Camillo Placi, Fakel Novy Urnegoy head coach: “I’m only half satisfied. If we had added a little bit of attention and focus, we could have extend this game. But we are glad that we made Perugia play at their maximum. This team is assembled to win everything. We are also happy that we played at the same level and only in certain moments did not have enough experience, which Perugia has in abundance.”
Igor Kolodinskiy, Fakel Novy Urnegoy captain: “The game today was good, although the beginning was not so much. Our third set turned out to be excellent. We played very cleanly. This is the kind of volleyball that Fakel should play. We minimised errors, played very well on the block and in defense and these are exactly the elements that we are famous for. Unfortunately, it was not possible to take the game to a fifth set. Now we will try to practice before the second game and show our maximum in Italy.”
Oleg Plotnytskyi, Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia outside hitter: “A trip to Novy Urengoy is the farthest trip of the season. This was unusual for us with four hours of time difference. It was hard to adapt and the game was not easy. But fortunately we managed to play as planned.
Everyone gave 100%. Fakel are a very good team, and you can’t play with them in a relaxed way, because they can immediately punish you.”
Marko Podrascanin, Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia middle blocker and MVP of the game: “It was a great match. I believe that Egor Kliuka was not enough for Fakel. Next Tuesday we will have the second leg in Perugia and we hope to see it there.”
Close the picture Cucine Lube Civitanova that sweep Roeselare with 5 players with a double digits performance!
The players of the titleholders are returning from a visit to Belgium with a great victory. Belgium’s Knack Roeselare provided huge resistance to the rivals in the first set, failing to convert six set points, which could have given a different note to the first leg of the 2020 Champions League quarterfinals, in general. After that, Lube got a grip and swept rivals in the continuation of a duel.
The European and world champions had as many as five players with a double digits performance, which is quite unusual for a three-set match! They were led by Osmany Juantorena, 15 points, Rychlicki 12, Kovar 11, Simon and Beniek 10! Hendrik Tuerlinckx scored 12 points for Roeselare.
Stijn D’Hulst Lube reserve setter: “I think we didn’t start really well. We missed some rhythm because we hadn’t played for a week and a half. Knack Roeselare started with a lot of enthusiasm and they brought good volleyball. In the second and third sets we did a good job with our serve. For me, it was great to come on court again. I played for seven years here and we had a lot of successes together. I have a lot of nice memories to my time here. Next week we will start with the right focus because we want to have that ticket for the semifinals.”
Andreas Fragkos, Knack Roeselare outside hitter: “We played really well in the first set. Especially at the end of the first set we did a great job in block and defence. But they put a lot of pressure in service on us during all the game. Sometimes we missed when we had the chance to score but they acted so well in defence. For us, playing against teams like Lube improves our level. They always find the correct solutions in block and defence. For next week, we still have the ambition to bring our best volleyball.”
2020 CEV Volleyball Champions League, quarterfinals – 1st leg
• Kuzbass Kemerovo – Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle 2-3 (25:22, 24:26, 25:17, 26:28, 14:16)
• Knack Roeselare – Cucine Lube Civitanova
• Fakel Novy Urengoy – Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia 1-3 (23:25, 21:25, 25:22, 21:25)
• Itas Trentino – JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel postponed
Source and photos: cev.eu