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28/03/2015 21:53
Guys in red and white sweep aside yellow-black opponent to write piece of history
2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men

Berlin, Germany, March 28, 2015. Asseco Resovia RZESZOW continued their triumphal march in the 2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League by sweeping aside their countrymen of PGE Skra BELCHATOW (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) in the much anticipated Polish derby played on Saturday night at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin.

The players in red and white shirts – making their first Final Four appearance in history – delivered a strong performance and profited of the many problems showed by their opponents to cruise to a straight-set win which provides them with the right to challenge Russia’s Zenit KAZAN in the gold medal match on schedule for Sunday at 3:45pm CET. The eventual winner will also get the right to represent Europe at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship scheduled for October 27-November 1 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. 

As many as nine gold medallists from last year’s FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship were in action on Saturday night as their performance was attentively followed by the coach and assistant coach of Poland’s national team, Stéphane Antiga and Philippe Blain. And Resovia did not miss their chance to delight their passionate fans who now are hoping for another historic day to follow on Sunday. Skra, on the other hand, will be trying to redeem their heavy loss as they play hosts BERLIN Recycling Volleys for bronze at 1pm CET.  

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The Max-Schmeling-Halle confirmed once more its status of Germany’s ‘Volleyball Temple’ also by the time the second semi got started on Saturday night. A crowd of more than 9,000 was in attendance for the much anticipated derby starring 2012 silver medallists PGE Skra BELCHATOW and their domestic arch-rivals of Asseco Resovia RZESZOW who were making this weekend their first appearance in the Final Four of Europe’s elite competition. If the home fans of the BERLIN Recycling Volleys had provided a phenomenal ambiance for the first match of the day, things did not change much for the second where the yellow-and-black fans of Skra, on one end of the court, and the red-and-white ones of Resovia, standing right on the other side of the arena, made the locals understand why Poland has become known as the world’s ‘Volleyland’.

The German public also had at least two reasons to closely follow the match for the captain and libero of their national team, Jochen Schöps and Ferdinand Tille, were playing on Saturday night to carry the hopes for glory of Resovia and Skra, respectively. Asseco Resovia, who just made the final stage of the PlusLiga at home, were off to a flying start right from the go and could keep control of the game also halfway through the opening set. Skra edged ahead for the first time at 12:11 and this resulted into a time-out called by the coach of Resovia, Andrzej Kowal. A nerve-wracking, close battle unfolded for the remainder of the set up to a contested rally which was eventually assigned to Resovia after the Challenge System attested a block touch by Skra (23:21). Tille’s spectacular effort in defence could not prevent RZESZOW from getting two chances to cash the opening set, with the second being the ‘lucky one’ following a service error by Andrzej Wrona (25-23).

Though this was not reflected by the final score, all stats from the opening set clearly spoke for Resovia’s supremacy in the match, especially with their 61% rate in reception compared to that same figure standing at 24% for Skra. The absence of Michal Winiarski – who had made only a short appearance in the first set – seemed to affect the performance of Poland’s reigning champions but they eventually fought their way back from 5:7 to score three in a row and take the lead at the first technical time-out of the second set. Winiarski joined the game as his side trailed 13:15 and he immediately recorded his first point. However, Skra had to come back from behind again and again before edging ahead on an ace by Facundo Conte (22:21). Three points in a row changed once more the course of the game and Piotr Nowakowski finished it off for a 2:0 lead (25-23) for the guys in red and white jerseys.

This new chapter of a long-lasting rivalry continued also in the third set where Skra finally showed more consistency in their performance but Resovia was also up to the task, especially with an always outstanding Jochen Schöps. The captain of Germany’s national team, a gold medal winner from this competition back in 2007, looked as solid as a rock as his team continued to deliver in all fundamentals and the fans never stopped cheering their heroes on. Only one set separated the team from southern Poland from a historic spot in the gold medal match of Europe’s elite competition, and after claiming a 16:14 lead, the fulfilment of that dream did no longer look out of reach for the guys from the Volleyball-mad city of Rzeszow. As their heroes went into the final stretch with a comfortable margin of four points (20:16), the party had already started on the corner of the Max-Schmeling-Halle assigned to the fans of Asseco Resovia; RZESZOW could not capitalise on two match balls but after two time-outs asked by coach Kowal, that sought-after moment was eventually there after a terrific back row attack killed by Marko Ivovic (25-22).

Post-match statements

Andrzej Kowal, coach of Asseco Resovia RZESZOW: “I am very proud of my team, I am almost speechless. This is our first appearance in the Final Four and we immediately seized our chance to make the gold medal match. Coming in here I did not think at all about the final and our opponent there, since our focus was only and exclusively on this match with PGE Skra BELCHATOW.”

Mariusz Wlazly, captain of PGE Skra BELCHATOW: “The victory of our opponents is well deserved. They were better than us whilst we simply made too many mistakes. I wish them the best of luck for the upcoming final match with Zenit KAZAN.”

Miguel Angel Falasca, coach of Skra: “Congratulations to RZESZOW, they definitely played better than we did. I am hoping that we will be crossing our ways again in the finals of our national league. We will immediately start preparing for the bronze medal match.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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