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18/11/2018 12:00
Greenyard marks the start of a new era in Maaseik
2019 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men

Maaseik, Belgium, November 18, 2018. A new era has begun for Volleyball in Maaseik. After competing for 33 years under the name of Noliko, the main sponsor – and, as a result, the club as well – have changed their name. Therefore, European fans will have to get used to Greenyard MAASEIK, the denomination now used by the team based in the city at the border between Belgium and the Netherlands.

This year, Greenyard MAASEIK start their European campaign as the reigning Belgian league champions, since last April they ended a five-year winning streak of eternal rivals Knack ROESELARE.

Captain Jelte Maan, going into his 11th consecutive season for the ‘Reds’, knows best what his team can expect from this Champions League campaign, with BERLIN Recycling Volleys, Trefl GDANSK and PGE Skra BELCHATOW as opponents in Pool D.

“Of course, with the new formula of the Champions League, it will be very difficult for us to qualify for the next phase. On the other hand, the draw has given us some very interesting opponents, with the national champions of both Germany and Poland, whereas GDANSK is also a great Polish team. Therefore, I consider this an interesting group, and if we perform well, we have a chance to qualify. I would be disappointed if we don’t make it to the next round, since that is one of our goals this season.”

His compatriot Just Dronkers, going into his third year as the team’s libero, knows how to achieve this goal, since MAASEIK made it to the Playoffs 12 last season, missing out on the Playoffs 6 by just two small points. “We will just have to go for it and see how far we can get against these Polish top teams. After all, that is the way we beat Zaksa KEDZIERZYN-KOZLE and Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK last year. However, the challenge is extremely tough: last year 12 teams qualified for the Playoffs, whilst this year only eight will progress. Therefore, we will have to perform even better than we did last year.”

Jelte Maan is eager to do so and he knows why Maaseik can add a little something to their top level in Europe. “The good thing about all our opponents are their venues. They have great gyms to play in and they all have a great audience. Trefl GDANSK and PGE Skra are teams from Poland, a country that is crazy about Volleyball.  And let’s first take on the BR Volleys: it is a city that is not too far away for us, they play in a great atmosphere and I think we can beat them if we reach our best level.”

Head coach Joel Banks agrees with his captain. The participation in a high-standard European competition is always something very special for a little Belgian city like Maaseik: “We are very pleased to represent Belgium, the province of Limburg and the city of Maaseik. We are looking forward to playing such strong teams; these games are really exciting challenges for us.”

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