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28/02/2019 01:00
Zenit KAZAN complete League Round with six straight wins to bring total to 29
2019 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men

Luxembourg, February 27, 2019.  Zenit KAZAN recorded their sixth win in as many matches in Pool A of the 2019 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men to finish the pool stage with an impeccable record. The title-holders and six-time #CLVolleyM winners can now look forward to the quarterfinals where they will be trying to extend their winning streak in the competition, a series now encompassing 29 straight matches. On Wednesday, the Russian powerhouse shut out the visiting Turkish squad of Halkbank ANKARA. In the clash between the two bottom-placed sides in the pool, Belgium’s Knack ROESELARE managed a four-set home win over Germany’s United Volleys FRANKFURT.

Zenit KAZAN (RUS) vs. Halkbank ANKARA (TUR) 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 28-26)

•    Zenit KAZAN leading opposite Maxim Mikhailov was not in the starting line-up and did not take to the court at all. Matthew Anderson, who plays in that position in the USA national team, replaced the Russian superstar. Anderson was the eventual top scorer of the match with 16 points.
•    Zenit KAZAN outside hitter Alexey Spiridonov set the pace for his team in the first set with six successful spikes in as many attempts and an ace to his name as well. Remarkably, most of the points he claimed came at the outbreak of the set as the host caught a quick lead for 10-3.
•    Zenit KAZAN have been playing in the Champions League for 12 seasons in a row and every year the club from Tatarstan has made it to the Playoffs / quarterfinals.
•    After the second set, Halkbank ANKARA brought Arslan Eksi into action. Last season he played in the Russian Superleague together with opposite Drazen Luburic at Zenit SAINT PETERSBURG.
•    Zenit KAZAN won their 29th consecutive match in the CEV Volleyball Champions League. Their winning series began on March 24, 2016.

Vladimir Alekno, head coach of Zenit KAZAN: “From the point of view of the tournament standing, this game did not have much significance to us, but the boys were really committed and played with high spirit. Anderson as the opposite? He plays in this position in the USA national team and he is among the top five, if not the top three, in the world.”

Alberto Giuliani, head coach of Halkbank ANKARA: “This season the Champions League is not that much important for us. There are quite many teams with a much stronger roster than ours, so it was rather difficult to have too high expectations. As for the game, without Mikhailov and Butko, Zenit KAZAN was a different team, but still strong as those who replaced them, played great."

Knack ROESELARE (BEL) vs. United Volleys FRANKFURT (GER) 3-1 (25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-15)

•    In the first set, both teams took turns in claiming series of points so that the score went from 7-4 to 13-16 and back to 17-17. With an ace from Arno Van de Velde, Knack ROESELARE could turn the score in their favour (19-17) and, from then on, the way for the first set was open. The last point was decided with a challenge in favour of the home team - 25-22.
•    Knack continued the second set in the right flow. With better blocking, good serves and quick attacks, the home team moved from 9-6 to 17-13. Coach Stelio DeRocco tried to break the play of the home team with some substitutions, but it was in vain. With a kill block from Lou Kindt on Tanner Syftestad (24-15) and another challenge in favour of the home team (25-15), set 2 was a wrap.
•    In set 3, Knack took the better start. Halfway, with 13-7 on the scoreboard, victory looked very close. But United Volleys FRANKFURT fought back into the match and came back from 12-13 to 22-18. Knack tried hard, but did not come any closer than 22-25.
•    So set 4 suddenly became very important for Knack, if they wanted to take that third place in the standings. With strong attacks from Matthijs Verhanneman and Hendrik Tuerlinckx, the home team opened an 11-5 gap. United Volleys did not have the strength to fight back anymore. At 20-10, coach Steven Vanmedegael brought Sander Depovere and Lou Kindt into the game. Kindt paid back with three points to deliver match point at 24-14. Mathijs Desmet, only 19 years old, converted to a 25-15 win.
•    With growing enthusiasm, the 1,600 spectators at the Schiervelde sports hall enjoyed the splendid performance of their team.
•    Knack’s Matthijs Verhanneman, with 22 points to his name, was the best scorer and MVP of the match. His teammate Hendrik Tuerlinckx and United Volley’s Andreas-Dimitrios Fragkos scored 13 points each.

Brett Walsh, setter of Knack ROESELARE: “We brought a very good performance on the court. With Matthijs Verhanneman I had the perfect player to set at work. Our blocking performance was also working very well. We wanted this second victory and the third place in the ranking so eagerly. The spectators at Schiervelde helped us a lot in the fourth set, after the loss of the third set.”

Sebastian Schwarz, outside hitter of United Volleys FRANKFURT: “The home team fought with a lot of enthusiasm and deserved the victory. We learned a lot in our first year in the Champions League. I am sure this will help us in the next matches in our domestic competition. You could see that Knack have a long tradition in this European competition and a lot more experience than we do.”

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