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12/02/2014 19:07
Golden Set qualification to the CEV Cup semis for Guberniya
2014 CEV Volleyball Cup - Men

Piraeus, Greece, February 12, 2014.  A 15-8 victory in the Golden Set gave Guberniya NIZHNIY NOVGOROD the qualification to the final phase of the 2014 CEV Volleyball Cup - Men.  The Russian team had an impressive start of its return game with Olympiacos PIRAEUS, winning the first set by a solid difference.  The Greek team fought back, cashed in the next three sets to shape up the final 3:1 (18-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22) and prompted the decisive set that sent their opponents to the semifinals.

Guberniya’s most prolific player Nikolay Pavlov scored 21 points, 5 of which in the crucial Golden Set. Olympiacos’ Boyan Yordanov became the top scorer of the match with 28 points.

Olympiacos started the game aggressively achieving a 2-point margin (5-3). But it was Guberniya with its powerful blocking that moved up 8-7 at the first technical time-out.  It was Alexey Ostapenko’s great serve that gave the away team an early margin of 4 points (12-8). The Russian team was in control of the game and with a powerful spike by Pavlov moved up to 16-10 at the second technical time-out. As Guberniya achieved a 9-point margin (21-12), the home guys tried to fight back to narrow the gap down to 16-22, but only got as far as 18-25 in the end.

Milan Jurisic was Olympiacos’ primary weapon in the beginning of the second set, as his serving, gave the Greek team an early lead (3-1).  But it was Milos Nikic’s lethal serving that gave Guberniya four straight points (3-5).  The technical time-out that came at 7-8 calmed down Olympiacos’ players, who came back with five consecutive points for 12-8. The home team not only retained its lead, but also extended it to 16-11 after a block by Jurisic and a spike by Yordanov.  Despite Ostapenko’s ace for 19-17, the home team regained its 4-point margin (21-17) and brought it home by 25-21 with a crucial point from Leonardo Caldeira.

After winning the second set, Olympiacos’ player’s morale made a shift upwards. The powerful serving from Nikolaos Smaragdis, along with the Greek team’s blocking, gave Olympiacos an early 2-point lead (8-6).  Caldeira kept destroying the opponents’ reception, giving his team a 5-point advantage (12-7) to be retained through the second technical time-out. The Russians tried to fight back with Ostapenko’s powerful serves, as they scored three points in a row for 16-18.  Olympiacos was calm enough to maintain its lead (23-20) and with a spike from Yordanov and a turnover from Guberniya closed the set at 25-21.

Melina Merkouri sports hall was ”on fire” with the home team’s fans’ chants.  With Konstantinos Christofidelis serving, the Greek team took an early 2-point lead (2-0), but Guberniya equalized at 5:5 and took the lead at the first technical time-out by 8-7.  The two teams were taking turns in the lead until 11-11. Then, Yordanov gave Olympiacos a 4-point advantage (15-11), and it was again the Bulgarian player’s crucial point that led Olympiacos to the second technical time-out at 16-13.  The Russian team entered the court aggressively and leveled the score at 18-18 and 21-21. But it was Caldeira’s turn to serve and the Brazilian quaked Guberniya’s reception to finish the match off at 25-22 and 3:1.

The Golden Set was a monologue by Guberniya as the Russian team took control from the very beginning (3-3, 6-2).  Olympiacos tried to fight back with Smaragdis’ serves narrowing its lag down to 6-8, but the visiting side, with Pavlov’s crucial points and Ostapenko’s serving, regained a safe distance and cashed in the victory by 15-8.

Olympiacos’ head coach Dimitris Kazazis stated after the end of the game:  “We managed to show our good European face.  We beat a team with a much bigger budget than ours, but, unfortunately, tiredness and many turnovers did not allow us to succeed in the Golden Set.  My players and I want to dedicate today’s victory to the victims of the Gate 7 incident back in 1981.  We also wanted to dedicate to them the qualification to the final phase, but unfortunately we did not succeed.”

On the other side, Guberniya's head coach Plamen Konstantinov was extremely happy for his team’s success against such an experienced and strong team: “Olympiacos had an excellent game after the loss of the first set and achieved a fair victory.  Thankfully, my players improved their game a lot in the Golden Set.  Olympiacos is a very good and experienced team.  If we were able to overcome them, then we are capable of going all the way to the end of the CEV Volleyball Cup.  I am grateful for going so far in our first European Cups participation.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match.

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