In all-polish derby of 2020/21 CEV Champions League, Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle prevailed over PGE Skra Bełchatów for the third time this season, the second time in just four days. Unlike the recent PlusLiga duel (ended at tie break), this time, in Round 1 of Pool A, which they host, the team coached by Serbian Nikola Grbić was much more confident and swept rivals in straight sets. Łukasz Kaczmarek was Zaksa’s most prolific player with 17 points, while Aleksander Śliwka made 82 % attack (14/17).
Nikola Grbic, Head coach of Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle: “I am satisfied with the attitude of the whole team. It will give us a boost for the next matches. It’s good that the match ended in three sets because thanks to this we kept a lot of strength for tomorrow.”
Aleksander Sliwka, Opposite of Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle: “Almost everything worked out for me throughout the match. We had learnt our lesson from the previous match and used our opponents’ mistakes by playing very effectively.”
Michal Gogol, Head coach of PGE Skra Belchatow: “Such matches happen. It is not yet certain what will happen in this pool. We are already focusing on tomorrow’s game and we must quickly forget about today’s loss. It didn’t work and that’s it.”
Mateusz Bieniek, Middle blocker of PGE Skra Belchatow: “It’s always hard to play here. We knew that the rival would really want to show their best side. We regret the second set, because if we had won it, it could have ended differently.”
In the same pool, Turkey’s Fenerbahçe HDI İstanbul, with 23 points by Cuban Salvador Hidalgo Oliva, narrowly avoided what would have been a huge upset against Belgium’s Lindemans Aalst (3-2).
Erkan Togan, Head coach of Fenerbahce HDI Sigorta: “I am so happy we got our first win in the Champions League. I congratulate my team on their performance. The first days of the tournaments are always the hardest ones. Although we started well and recovered after the first set we lost, we made simple mistakes in some parts of the game. The important thing is that we won by resisting to the end, with the contributions of my players coming from the bench. I believe we will perform better and more comfortably tomorrow.”
Emre Batur Middle blocker of Fenerbahce HDI Sigorta: “I am very happy that we started the Champions League with a win. It was a good fight. We had deficiencies in this match, but I think we will make up for it tomorrow. It was a nice win. I hope we will win the matches we play tomorrow and the next day.”
Johan Devoghel, Head coach of Lindemans Aalst: “We did not wake up during the tie-break. It’s a pity because we were close to defeating a dangerous rival.”
Jakub Rybicki, Opposite of Lindemans Aalst: “We played a pretty good match and it is a pity we lost.”
In the all-Italian clash in Round 1 of Pool B (in Tours, France) of the 2021 CEV Volleyball Champions League, Cucine Lube Civitanova beat Sir Safety Perugia. One of the most awaited match in this season’s pool stage of the competition went into the favor of italian defending champions. This win will mean a lot to Lube in terms of direct qualification to the quarterfinals given that Turkey’s Arkas İzmir lost all three matches by a forfeit due to the inability to come to the tournament as it has cases of coronavirus among the players. In this match, Cuban-Brazilian Yoandy Leal top-scored the winners with 22 points.
Ferdinando de Giorgi, head coach of Cucine Lube Civitanova: “I am very satisfied with both the result and the way we achieved it. My guys had a good mental capacity along the whole match, and this allowed us to always remain attached to the opponent, managing to win the most important moments of each set, excluding the second one. Now head to tomorrow’s match against Tours. It will be another battle.”
Massimo Colaci, player of Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia: “We know the value of Civitanova, in last years we have played many times against them. Civitanova deserved to win. We didn’t play our usual levels, we didn’t serve well and we made many mistakes in important points. The difference was this.”
Germany’s Berlin Recycling Volleys, with 16 points by American Benjamin Patch, downed Slovenia’s ACH Volley Ljubljana in Pool C which they organize, while Poland’s Jastrzębski Węgiel decided to stay home given that some of the team’s members got infected by Covid-19 and thus, they lost all three matches in this pool by a forfeit.
Anton Brehme, Middle blocker of Berlin Recycling Volley: “We were very well prepared today in attack and block-defense. We wanted to go all in at the service line, however we still made too many mistakes. After the tough loses in the German Cup und League we found our team spirit again and have a lot of energy.”
Gregor Ropret, Setter of ACH Volley Ljubljana: “Berlin was a better team today. They served really good and we had really big problems stopping their opposite, so in the end we couldn’t do better than this result. In the second set we had really big opportunity and I think if we had won the set, the match would have been much different. But again, some unlucky mistakes in reception in the end of the set and one, two great blocks from Berlin and set finished in their favour.”
Pierre Pujol, Setter of Berlin Recycling Volley: “My knee is alright, my thumb hurts a bit, but this is Champions League and you want to play and lead the team. We are slowly finding our way to play volleyball, today we made a good step. We will fight tomorrow, I can promise you that. Then we will see how it goes.”
📌| 2021 CEV Volleyball Champions League
📌| POOL A
• Lindemans AALST — Fenerbahge HDI ISTANBUL 2-3 (25:20, 22:25, 21:25, 25:17, 9:15)
• PGE Skra BELCHATOW – Grupa Azoty KEDZIERZYN KOZLE 0-3 (21:25, 19:25, 19:25)
📌| POOL B
• Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA – Sir Safety PERUGIA 3-1 (25:22, 22:25, 25:20, 25:23)
• Arkasspor IZMIR – Tours Volley Ball 0-3 (forfait)
📌| POOL C
• ACH Volley LJUBLJANA – BERLIN Recycling Volleys 0-3 (20:25, 23:25, 21:25)
• Jastrzebski WEGIEL – Zenit KAZAN 0-3 (forfait)