Champions League: all favorites record four straight-set wins, Zenit Kazan make debut this season
All favorites were dominant on the second day of the pool stage of the 2021 CEV Volleyball Champions League, showing clear dominance over their rivals.
It was expected that Turkey’s Fenerbahçe HDI İstanbul will provide much stronger resistance to Pool A hosts Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle, but the Polish side showed no mercy (25:21, 25:20, 25:13). Łukasz Kaczmarek and Aleksander Śliwka scored 10 points each on the winning side, who are at 2-0.
Nicholas Hoag, outside hitter of Fenerbahce HDI Istanbul: “Our game looked good for two sets, we attacked well, maybe we didn’t have enough defence. In the third set, we lost a series of points too quickly and we could not make up for it.”
Hasan Sikar, middle blocker of Fenerbahce HDI Istanbul: “We played against one of Europe’s toughest teams and they made it difficult for us. We fought very well in the first two sets. We want to do our best in the game tomorrow. We will fight for the best until the last moment.”
Rafal Prokopczuk, setter of Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle: “I do not get to play in the domestic league as much as I am playing in the Champions League.”
In the same pool, in the match against Poland’s PGE Skra Bełchatów, Belgium’s Lindemans Aalst experienced the same fate as Fenerbahçe. Dusan Petkovic was the top scorer of the match with 13 points for the winners, while USA’s Taylor Sander made his official debut for the club from Belchatow after recovering from injury.
Michal Gogol, head coach of PGE Skra Belchatow: “I had the opportunity to let some young players compete and it was a very good and useful test for them.”
Taylor Sander, outside hitter of PGE Skra Belchatow: “I was a little nervous. I didn’t play for long, but it was OK. I feel better every day. I haven’t had the chance to play such an important game in a long time. I’m excited to get the chance to play, be on the pitch with the guys and help. I am so glad we won. This was our goal. We had control of the game from the first to the last point. We had a great team spirit and a positive atmosphere.”
Karol Klos, middle blocker of PGE Skra Belchatow: “Such matches, convincingly won, are also needed and I would not consider it a sparring. The rival played very interesting at times.”
Matej Smidl, opposite of Lindemans Aalst: “We were hoping that we would show good volleyball tonight, but Skra did not allow it. We also made more individual mistakes than yesterday.”
Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova, with 21 points by Osmany Juantorena, stormed past France’s Tour VB in Pool B and noted their second victory.
Yoandy Leal, outside hitter of Cucine Lube Civitanova: “It was important to start this European campaign on the right foot, and I think that closing this first bubble with the lead in the standings and 9 points out of 3 games satisfies our expectations in the best way, as at the same time rewards the hard work that we’ve done to prepare us for this event. After the strong battle with Perugia it was not easy to maintain concentration and perform a high-level volleyball also against Tours. We succeeded.”
Zeljko Coric, setter of Tours VB: “It was complicated, but it was a pleasure for us to play with this team. I think we have shown that we are able to play on high level.”
Ferdinando De Giorgi, head coach of Cucine Lube Civitanova: “We are clearly very satisfied, because we have closed two difficult games by winning all the points at stake, and it was very important to start well in this very difficult competition, especially in a tough group like ours. My guys did a very good job.”
Maksim Mikhaylov with 14 points and 4 aces highlighted Russia’s powerhouse Zenit Kazan against Germany’s Berlin Recycling Volleys in Pool C in their inaugural match in the competition this season.
Benjamin Patch, Opposite of Berlin Recycling Volleys: “It was a really big challenge today and we tried our best in this situation. We made a lot of service errors, but you have to take risks against those opponents. The intention was good. We missed Samu because he is not just a weapon physically, but he really helps to energise the team. In the first set we were right there but they came up in a strong way. All the things around us, the injuries, the corona virus do not make it easier to compete with such a team like Kazan.”
Anton Brehme, Middle blocker of Berlin Recycling Volleys: “We started the game by serving really well. Afterwards we made to many easy mistakes and could not be efficient enough in attack. We can still learn a lot when playing against the best teams in Europe. I did my best in block, but they adapt well and changed their movements a little. That made it much more difficult. In this moments KAZAN showed their full experience.”
📌| 2021 CEV Volleyball Champions League, pool stage – December 9
📌| POOL A
• Fenerbahce HDI Istanbul (TUR) – Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle (POL) 0-3 (21:25, 20:25, 13:25)
• Lindemans Aalst (BEL) – PGE Skra Belchatow (POL) 0-3 (16:25, 17:25, 16:25)
📌| POOL B
• TOURS VB (FRA) – Cucine Lube Civitanova (ITA) 3-0 (21:25; 23:25; 23:25)
📌| POOL C
• Berlin Recycling Volleys (GER) –
Zenit Kazan (RUS) 0-3 (21:25, 19:25, 18:25)