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03/04/2016 22:12
Calzedonia VERONA make history taking their first major title, one more for Giani!
2016 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Men

Novy Urengoy, Russia, April 3, 2016. Italy’s rookies Calzedonia VERONA capped their fabulous campaign in the 2016 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup – Men by lifting the trophy following their second 3-2 win (25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-6) in only five days over Russia’s Fakel NOVY URENGOY. This is a historic feat for the team coached by Volleyball legend Andrea Giani who this season celebrated their debut in the European Cups.

It was a close affair in the opening set until two consecutive aces by Sasa Starovic moved the score to 20-17 for Calzedonia VERONA. Two blocks by Aidan Zingel and Simone Anzani extended the Italian lead even more and as a result VERONA claimed the first set 25-20.

Igor Tiurin and Egor Kliuka set the tempo of the game in the second set, with hosts Fakel leading the way 3-1 and 10-6. The Russian players seemed to have found their rhythm and their blocks turned into some kind of insurmountable wall for the Italian team. Ilia Vlasov and Ivan Iakovlev stood out at the net for the Russian team and Calzedonia eventually succumbed 25-18 as NOVY URENGOY scored time and again by virtue of the spikes killed by Kliuka and Dmitrii Volkov.

The third set was kind of a copy of the opening one with the score remaining close through to the second technical time-out before a series of attacks by Zingel paved the way for the second set win by VERONA.

Kliuka and Volkov joined forces to get Fakel back on track in the fourth set together with Tiurin and their star setter Igor Kolodinskiy. A series of powerful attacks combined with strong serving paved the way towards the 25-21 win by the Russian team that once again could rely on the excellent performance of their star middle blockers Vlasov and Iakovlev.

The tie-break was nevertheless fully controlled by VERONA that opened the gap as Kliuka could not control two serves in a row by Italian setter Michele Baranowicz and the Russian spikers were stopped at the net. Taylor Sander performed just amazingly for Calzedonia to top score with 20 points and deservedly received the award for the Most Valuable Player of the finals. Uros Kovacevic, Sasa Starovic and Aidan Zingel added 17, 16 and 14 points respectively to the final tally of the Italians.  

“I am very disappointed especially since today we played better than we did in Italy,” said Fakel setter and team captain Igor Kolodinskiy. “If we had played the same way in Italy, the result there would have been different. We could not cope with our emotions. It turned out that many of our players do not have the experience of playing European finals.”

“I am very happy for the team and for the club, since this is the first ever title for VERONA! The journey to this title was a complicated one because lately we have been playing many matches and these were all long and tough games. We are nevertheless pleased with the way the competition has come to an end, with such big win for us,” commented MVP Taylor Sander.  

“Everything was organised in the best way, the training, the arena, the fans, I mean we feel really great here,” Andrea Giani said. “We liked it very much. Today’s match was a tough one. Fakel have a young, yet very strong team. We played ten sets in the two matches with NOVY URENGOY and this speaks for itself. It means that these teams have competed at the same level and the final outcome of these matches has been decided by maybe two, three points. And of course I am very, very happy that we won,” said the Italian Volleyball legend who has added yet another accolade to his (coaching) resume after last year he won a silver medal at the EuroVolley while being at the helm of Slovenia’s national team.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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