Both first leg of CEV Cup Semifinals were played today.
In the first semifinal, PGE Skra Bełchatów needed five sets to defeat at home Tours VB.
The Polish club in front of their home crowd at Energia Bełchatów were able to continue their winning streak, opening the game well, with a 8-5 lead, and keeping the advatage of at least three points until 21-17. However, the rivals not give up: with Teryomenko from the service line, they scored six consecutive points to take a 21-23 lead and eventually won the first set 24:26.Skra, by themselves, gave away as many as 13 points in the first set to opponent by own errors.
The second set had a very similar scenario: the hosts had a cospicuous led (16-12), but then got in trouble in the decisive part (19-19), until Mikołaj Sawicki came into the court going directly on the service line. He scored two aces, 23-21, and the half point that allowed Skra to close 25-22.
The hosts kept the momentum and with full self-confidence they went through the third set, very balanced until Sawicki, again, on serve. Serving as many as six aces (two served again by Sawicki, another two by Atanasijević and one by Taht and Łomacz), they didn’t make it easy for the opponents who were struggling in receptions, and the set ended 25:20.
In fourth set, the French side take advantage from every mistake and inaccuracy of their opponents. Powered by duo Graciano Da Silva and Palonsky (five points each) they extended the game into the tie-break, 22:25.
The fifth set is always a great battle: the hosts took an early lead 5-2, but Tours leveled the score at 12-12, at first with Teryomenko from the service line (he also scored an ace, 9-9), and then with the ace from Goiano. Learning the lesson from the previous sets, coach Slobodan Kovac gave his team precise instructions during time-out that brought a positive result: error in reception from Palonski on Klos’ serve, and MVP Taht (23 points, 57% in attack, 40% efficiency, 3 blocks and 3 aces) close the game: 15-13.
“It was a semifinal of the CEV Cup so it was important for us to win for our crowd here in Bełchatów. It was a good game between two amazing teams. Tours VB won against Modena which is one of the best teams in the world. They are also first in the French Championship so we can expect more difficult match in France. I hope we will be even more prepared for the second game.”
Said Aleksandar Atanasijević, opposite of PGE Skra Bełchatów
Luke Perry, libero of Tours VB: “It was very tough game but we realize that it is always hard to play in Bełchatów. It is great atmosphere there. 2:3 is not the worst result because we still have chances to go. We made too many mistakes in receptions today so we have to look some videos, analize that game and be prepared for the second game. I played in Poland and it is always good to be back and feel that atmosphere.”
On the other semifinal at Arena Di Monza, the hosts Vero Volley Monza were defeated by Russian powerhouse Zenit Kazan in four sets.
The visiting side totally dominated on the court in the opener, and Monza couldn’t find an answer for perfectly playing rivals. Thanks to really good reception, Micah Christenson could set the ball to any of his teammates, and the result is a clear 14:25, with a great turn from the service line from Bednorz and two blocks by Mikhailov and Volkov on Dzavoronok.
The team coached by Massimo Ecchieli started to improve their game in the second set. Led by Gyorgy Grozer, author of points only in this partial, and with Katic on the court in place of Davyskiba, they try to re-open the game but, despite a battle on the final, Kazan always lead the game with an excellent performance by Dmitrii Volkov, who scored as many as seven points (86% of success in attack) only in this partial, including the one that closed 20:25.
The hosts were motivated to prolong the game and it resulted by a fierce head-to-head race at the beginning of the third set.
From 8-8 with Katic from the service line and Grozer in attack, the Italian side took a good 11-8 lead, forcing coach Verbov to ask a time out. The Russian side tried to fight back, but Monza were quickly re-building their advantage, with an an error in attack by Volkov and ace from Galassi. Leading 22-17 in the decisive part of the set, they closed with Gianluca Galassi’s spike, 25-19.
The Italian side managed to take a two-point lead at 7-5 also in four set, but the rivals were highly-motivated to leave Italy with three points, and thus they regain control on the court. From 13-12, they scored six in a row improving their advantage to 19-13 and never looked back. The error from Grozer worth the decisive 19-25, and the 1-3 in favor of Zenit Kazan.
Dmitrii Volkov was the top scorer of the game with 19 points and was named MVP, while Monza’s leader Gyorgy Grozer scored 18 points.
“For us it is a bittersweet evening and with a bit of regret. A few thought that we could win against Kazan and we – even if we failed to do so – kept them fighting for every ball until the end. In their home it will still be difficult, but until the last ball falls we will be there to give our best to achieve our dream about reaching the final,” said Gianluca Galassi, middle blocker of Vero Volley Monza
Micah Christenson, setter of Zenit Kazan: “We approached the match in a solid and decisive way. Monza is a well organized team, which when it lights up can hurt both on the serve and on the block. We will also have to push in the second leg, starting from our serve, to impose our rhythm and go the final“.
🏐| CEV Cup 2021/22 – Semifinals First Leg
| Thursday 24th February
• PGE Skra Belchatow (POL) – Tours VB (FRA) 3-2 (24:26, 25:22, 25:20, 22:25, 15:13)
• Vero Volley Monza (ITA) – Zenit Kazan (RUS) 1-3 (14:25, 20:25, 25:19, 19:25)
| PHOTOGALLERY OF THE MATCH
🏐| Second Leg
| Wednesday 2nd March
• Tours VB (FRA) – PGE Skra Belchatow (POL) 3-1 (25:21, 25:20, 21:25, 20:25)
Zenit Kazan (RUS) – Vero Volley Monza (ITA) CANCELED