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16/03/2016 22:54
Skra pull out come-from-behind win to end Zenit positive streak after 28 matches
2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men

Kazan, Russia, March 16, 2016. On Wednesday night PGE Skra BELCHATOW claimed a strong-willed victory in the first matchup of the Playoffs 6 against the red-hot favourites and reigning titleholders of the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League, Zenit KAZAN. After trailing 0-2, Poland’s multiple champions completed an unparalleled comeback and claimed a sensational 3-2 victory (23-25, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25, 18-16) to end the winning streak of the team from Tatarstan after 28 matches.

2015 gold medallists Zenit KAZAN edged ahead right from the outset of the match opener keeping the lead throughout the whole opening set. The hosts caught a very solid start claiming four straight points but PGE Skra BELCHATOW responded with the attacks of their Argentinean spiker Facundo Conte to cut their deficit and close in at 4-all. The team of Vladimir Alekno broke away again on a series of terrific serves extending their lead to 15-9. Zenit imposed their rule for the remainder of the opening set but with the score standing at 24-19, their American spiker Matthew Anderson failed to finish three attacks in row and PGE Skra almost completed another comeback before Zenit eventually wrapped it up at 25-23.

The fate of the second set was decided by Matthew Anderson who delivered a series of terrific serves and flipped the charts from a 13-16 deficit into a confident margin of six points (22-16), not leaving a chance to the visitors from Poland. Three straight aces killed by Anderson, the perfect defence by Bulgarian-born libero Teodor Salparov and the devastating attacks finished by Wilfredo Leon resulted in a 25-21 set win for Zenit as PGE Skra seemed to be lacking a real leader to stand a chance against the Russian armada.

If Facundo Conte and Serbian middle blocker Srecko Lisinac had scored most of the points for Skra up to this stage, Poland’s Volleyball hero Mariusz Wlazly joined the actions in the third set and this totally changed the course of the game. Wlazly caused a lot of troubles to Zenit and their defence system kind of collapsed. The atmosphere was just electrifying as the match turned into a close and fierce battle for every rally and the tension was to be sensed as the set approached its final stages. Wilfredo Leon was penalised with a yellow card and Mariusz Wlazly, on the contrary, remained cool and focussed to seal a 25-23 set win for his side.

In the fourth period the Polish giants tormented the players of Zenit KAZAN with powerful serves forcing Wilfredo Leon to make loads of errors in reception and as a result the visitors edged ahead 12-7. Facundo Conte was literally unstoppable as he successfully finished seven out of nine attacks, including his final attempt which came at the end of a long and dramatic rally (27-25).

The tie-break started in the best way for hosts Zenit KAZAN as they claimed an early lead but they failed to capitalise on this and ended up trailing after giving away several points due to reception errors. The Polish team, on the other hand, spared no efforts to put extra pressure on the hosts and levelled the score at 7-all. Srecko Lisinac became the real match winner for Skra as he first finished a fast attack from the middle of the net before blocking Leon to seal the come-from-behind victory of the Polish standout (18-16).

“Undoubtedly, before the match we were quite aware of the fact that Zenit KAZAN is one of the strongest teams in the world. The early stages of the match simply proved how strong they are. However, we understood that they are not good enough to claim a whitewash win over our team, so we challenged them fighting for every point and, at the end of the day, we prevailed. But it was just the first match and back home in Lodz we will start from scratch,” commented after the match the head coach of PGE Skra BELCHATOW, Miguel Angel Falasca.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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