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29/04/2017 23:06
Block Devils delight sell-out crowd with tiebreak win in all-Italian semi-final
2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men

Rome, Italy, April 29, 2017. Five hard-fought sets had to be played in the all-Italian semi-final game of the 2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men for Sir Sicoma Colussi PERUGIA to emerge victorious against Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA (3-2; 25-19, 22-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-9).

Both teams made it clear from the very start that no mercy will be given in this match. Strong serves and fierce spikes were sent from either side of the net as PERUGIA and CIVITANOVA remained tied for the most part of set number one. The hosts eventually built their advantage with a great run by the trio of Aleksandar Atanasijevic, Marko Podrascanin and Ivan Zaytsev, who made use of a full arsenal of spikes, blocks and a service ace to arrive at 22-16 and 25-19 a few moments later.

As far as intensity goes, set two started in the very same manner, but the hosts quickly lost their initial lead and Lube were soon leading 15-12. The situation was getting hotter as PERUGIA coach Lorenzo Bernardi found some of the referees’ decisions controversial and ended up with a yellow card himself. His men managed to come back for a 20-20 (with an ace by Atanasijevic), but CIVITANOVA were the ones to keep their cool and make it 1-1 (25-22).

Sir Sicoma Colussi were on top of the game from the beginning of set three, already leading as much as 10-3 after two consecutive points by Luciano De Cecco:

The players coached by Gianlorenzo Blengini seemed to have no answer to the hosts’ great performance. Their own service errors in the end of the set did not help either and PERUGIA won 25-19 once again.

Tables turned again in the fourth set. This time Lube were leading steadily and not for lack of trying by their opponents. It was not until a clever point by De Cecco that things started looking better for his team (15-16). Another chance for the hosts came towards the end of the set, but with Micah Christenson on the service line Lube were two points away from extending the game to five sets (23-18) – which they eventually did at 25-21.

At 4-4, the tiebreaker could have gone either way, but thanks to Atanasijevic, PERUGIA gained a small but crucial two-point advantage. Soon it was 8-5 for the hosts and even though captain Emanuele Birarelli had to leave the court with a pain in his leg, his teammates would not let the victory slip out of their hands, finishing the game at 15-9.

Here is the final rally of an unforgettable five-setter:

The hosts will take on Zenit KAZAN for gold tomorrow at 19:00. Before that happens, Lube will join BERLIN Recycling Volleys in a fight for the bronze medal at 16:00.

Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA setter Micah Christenson: “It is such a disappointing feeling, that we were giving everything that we can, every point is so important and things like that happen: the lack of video check, all of a sudden, it’s really a game changer. To have errors like that is disappointing for the players and the fans, because it is here to get it right. It is not an excuse; we had our chances, we had our opportunities to come back in the fifth set, but it feels disappointing. It’s so difficult to go to a next match right now after a five-set game, so close and decided after a couple of balls. It will take us a while to get it out of our heads, but we need to do it, because we have another match coming.”

Lorenzo Bernardi, head coach of Sir Sicoma Colussi PERUGIA: “Of course I am happy with the result but we have to keep in mind that we still have not won anything. Tomorrow we will play an incredibly strong team – but I repeat what I said yesterday already: today we beat the favourites of this competition. Tomorrow we will be the underdogs and play with the same intensity and joy we showed today. I always try to keep my players as motivated as possible and I did so after we lost badly to TRENTINO in the semis of the national league. Anything can happen and it is in our hands to make it happen again.”


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