Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle and Itas Trentino advanced to the Super Finals, scheduled in Verona on May 1, of the 2021 CEV Volleyball Champions League after surviving thrillers in their respective semifinal matches!
After more than 2 and a half hours of a thrilling fight (exactly 154 minutes) and a lot of emotions shown on both sides of the court, Poland’s Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle prevailed over Russia’s Zenit Kazan in the Golden Set of the semifinal rematch and advanced to their historical, first-ever final of the Champions League.
ZAKSA were leading 2-1 in sets and had 7 match balls combined in the 4th and 5th set. However, russian powerhouse saved them all, took the tie-break, and thus repeated the result ZAKSA achieved in the 1st leg. Nikola Grbić’s team had more nerves and prevailed in the Golden Set by a 15-13.
Kamil Semeniuk was named MVP of the match with 21 points (19 winning spikes and 2 aces), while his teammate Lukasz Kaczmarek also scored 21 points (16 winning spikes, 3 blocks and 2 aces).
Kazan’s Maxim Mikhailov was the top scorer of the match with 27 points (26 winning spikes and 1 ace), while Earvin Ngapeth scored 22 points for Kazan (18 winning spikes, 2 blocks and 2 aces).
Bartosz Bednorz, outside spiker of Zenit Kazan: “We are inconsolable. The match was great. Until the very end, we believed that we would be able to reverse the fate of the meeting. The rival played brilliantly.”
Benjamin Toniutti, setter of Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn Koźle: “It’s a fantastic feeling. We did not give up again, although the Russians set the bar extremely high tonight. I am very happy.”
Nikola Grbić, coach of Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn Koźle: “Great respect for my team. It is a huge success for all of us. I will probably not fall asleep for a long time today after such a match”
The other semifinal was a thriller, too: for 2 sets and most part of the 3rd, Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia dominated fellow countrymen Itas Trentino. Vital Heynen’s wards got 2-0 in sets after which they needed to take one more and extend the match to the Golden Set given that their rivals achieved a 3-0 victory in the first match.
However, Trentino players consolidated in the 3rd set, took it, and then stormed past Perugia in the 4th set. This marked the end of the journey of the home team in the competition. Both head coaches sent backups on the court in the tie-break, which went to Perugia with a resounding but useless 15:6.
The Dutchman Nimir Abdel-Aziz top-scored Trentino, who will play in the Champions League final for the 5th time, with 17 points.
Sebastian Solè, middle blocker of Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia: “Everything was going the right way. We played good in the third set too and maybe that was the chance we had to catch. We believed in this match and tonight we are clearly disappointed with ourselves. On the other hand I am anyway proud of what we did tonight, because we have been always focused on the match. Now we have to think to the Italian Championship”
Nimir Abdel-Aziz, opposite of Trentino Itas: “It was a really difficult match, we knew that coming here is always hard, because Perugia is a team that never gives up and we saw that today. In the first two sets, even the third we were in big trouble, we were not fluid in the game. The moment we won the third set was the moment when we were not blocked anymore, when we started to play good. We are in the Finals and that is amazing because beating Perugia is hard, especially in two games. It was a goal of ours and now we are happy.”
| CEV Champions League Semifinals | second leg
| March 24, 2021
• Zaksa Kedzierzyn Kozle – Zenit Kazan 2-3 (17:25, 25:16, 25:21, 28:30, 18:20) GOLDEN SET: 15:13
• Perugia – Trentino 3-2 (25:22, 25:17, 23:25, 17:25, 15:6)
Source and photos: CEV