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18/01/2020 22:00
Jastrzębski Węgiel come back from down 9-14 to beat Zenit Kazan at home
CEV Champions League Volley 2020 - Men

Luxembourg, January 18, 2020. In the most thrilling game of Champions League so far, Jastrzębski Węgiel came back from down 9-14 in the 5th set to defeat Zenit Kazan 16-14 in their home court. Four match points were saved in this incredible run that could end up determining the playoff hopes of both teams. 

The comeback was a team effort, as Tomasz Fornal, Jakub Bucki, & others combined to score at pivotal times & play perfect team defense. Tomasz Fornal was the leading scorer for Jastrzębski Węgiel, scoring 18 points and also led his team in passing at 22% perfect reception. The Polish club also got big contributions from their middles, with Graham Vigrass and Yuri Gladyr combining for 21 efficient points. Libero Jakub Popiwczak also came through with some spectacular defense to seal the match. Zenit Kazan was led by its wing trio of Earvin Ngapeth, Tsvetan Sokolov, & Maxim Mikhailov, who combined for 58 points. The team was part of a similar comeback, when Cucine Lube Civitanova came back from down 10-14 in a game at the 2018 Club World Championships. The setback was especially tough for Mikhailov - who reached 100 caps in the CEV Champions League Volley with this match - and 17-year-old rookie libero Ilia Fedorov, who was making his #CLVolleyM debut.

Jastrzębski Węgiel now improves to a perfect 3-0 heading into the second half of round 4. Zenit Kazan, who has advanced from this round every year since 2007, is in danger of missing the quarterfinals as they are now 1-2 and 3rd place in Pool C.

Alexey Verbov, head coach of Zenit KAZAN:
“It is not twice but thrice a shame to lose a match when you are leading 14-9 at the tie-break. It hurts. We will have to analyse the reasons why it happened – and will do so very thoroughly. We had a strong line-up, but they put a tremendous effort not to let us score, keeping the ball in play as many as four times. Theirs was some mind-blowing defence.”

Valentin Golubev, libero of Zenit KAZAN:
“We could not make it, just to take that last step. Perhaps, we celebrated our victory too early. It was the first such situation in my career.”

Lukas Kampa, setter and captain of JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel:
“I think our defence was extremely good. Of course, there was a truly amazing performance of Jakub Bucki at the end of the tiebreak as well but overall we worked really well in defence. Coming here you know you will be under pressure in reception all the time but what we did was to make it really difficult for the other side to put the ball on the floor. I think we proved something for ourselves today, meaning that we can play on the highest level. We need to be consistent and then we can be a team that is hard to beat.”

Slobodan Kovac, head coach of JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel:
“I think our team is really strong mentally because two days ago we lost the quarterfinal of the national cup in the very same way.  Zenit KAZAN started to serve really well, we were trailing 14-9 and then the score changed. I think that we played good volleyball for the whole match. As for the last set, we failed to spike five times, but our counterattacks were really good, our defence was really good too. Anyway, we are lucky and the result is fantastic for us because, you know, who has been able to win here? You must be lucky to win in Kazan. It is such a great team. I want to congratulate my boys since they did a great job.”


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