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11/03/2015 21:26
PGE Skra BELCHATOW secure Final Four ticket to delight 12,000 home fans
2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men

Lodz, Poland, March 11, 2015. PGE Skra BELCHATOW defeated Sir Safety PERUGIA by 3:1 (16-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-18) and despite losing the first leg of the Playoffs 6 in Italy last week by 2:3, Poland’s champions progressed to the Final Four of the 2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men. This will be Skra’s fourth participation in the last and most exciting stage of Europe’s elite competition and once this takes place on March 28-29 in Berlin, the Poles will be vying for their fourth medal in history, their best result being the silver they won in 2012.
 
“That was probably one of our worst performances this season. However, we still managed to win one of the most important matches in our club’s history. I am proud of my team,” stated Miguel Angel Falasca, PGE Skra’s coach.  

The Atlas Arena, the ‘Mecca’ of Polish Volleyball, continues to live up to its status of venue where magic happens. On Wednesday over 12,000 fans witnessed another enormous drama, as PGE Skra BELCHATOW came back after losing the first set and trailing by 8:15 in the third one.

“It was the most important moment. They caught us in a difficult rotation, where we could not attack in the proper way. We did the right things but PGE Skra’s players defended perfectly and found consistency in attack,” stated Nikola Grbic. The mentor of Italian rookies Sir Safety PERUGIA stresses the key role of his former teammate from the time they shared with TRENTINO Volley: “Michal Winiarski was injured for the last three weeks, but he is still that type of player that in the end makes the difference. He can just walk on the field and play like that, without mistakes. He is just the real champion.”
   
The expectations were very high, and it might have been the reason that PGE Skra started out very nervously. The home team’s mentor read it very well and immediately asked for the first time-out when PGE Skra were 1:5 down. Facundo Conte, one of the biggest stars of the season for the home side, could not find the rhythm of the game and after sending the ball three times well off the bounds he was substituted by the score of 11:17. Sir Safety PERUGIA took also advantage of their good block-defence and well-placed serves to win the first set by 16-25.

Despite the disappointing score in the opening set, over 12,000 fans in attendance at the Atlas Arena were not going to stop their amazing support and their heroes took profits from such great behaviour. PGE Skra started to play point-by-point in the second set to gain a three-point advantage (12:9) after three powerful serves of Mariusz Wlazly. The team captain of Skra took also the responsibility in offence and was the man who kept PGE Skra in front. Nikola Grbic’s players did not manage to keep up the high level of their serves, which enabled PGE Skra to take control of the game and close the second set at 25-22.

Aleksandar Atanasijevic opened the third set with great serves and provided Sir Safety PERUGIA with a speedy 5:0 lead. The Serbian opposite was presented a giant poster with his picture from the season he spent with Skra right before the start of the match, but had no mercy for his former club. The return of recently-injured Michal Winiarski marked the beginning of PGE Skra’s comeback, as the home team reduced the seven-point gap to only one (16:17). Winiarski was also the man who blocked Atanasijevic to make it 18:19 and make the Serbian opposite so angry that he received a red card which made the score move to 19:19. PGE Skra continued their spectacular comeback with the floating serves of Karol Klos, which helped make it 22:19. When the home-team closed the set at 25-23, the sold-out Atlas Arena nearly exploded as Skra had made another step forward on their way to the Final Four.

After such drama, PGE Skra did not lose their grip in the fourth and final set. The Polish champions dominated from the very beginning and kept a slight advantage which paved the way for their 3:1 home win and qualification to the Final Four.

“I am just very happy and proud of all my teammates. We did a great job but some things remain still to be done in Berlin,” stated Mariusz Wlazly, PGE Skra’s captain, who finished the game on 14 points. Facundo Conde added 17 as the top-scorer of BELCHATOW and Winiarski scored 10 points, killing eight out of his 10 attacks.

“We were just too inexperienced and we did not have so good players on the bench like PGE Skra has. I want to congratulate my colleagues from Poland, however I am very disappointed. We really had our chances in Perugia last week to win the match by 3:1, and here, where we were obliged to win the third set. We dissipated our advantage and lost the match,” added Aleksandar Atanasijevic, the best scorer of the match. The Serbian star recorded 20 points, with 44% in attack and two aces added to his personal tally.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

News nr. 370 of 1260
11/03/2015 23:02:00
Dinamo MOSCOW makes CEV Cup semis despite losing at Fenerbahce
11/03/2015 21:01:00
Zenit KAZAN claim Final Four ticket, Halkbank ANKARA left upset after terrific battle
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