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20/04/2019 16:39
Earvin Ngapeth – The motivation is at its peak! (Part I)
CEV Champions League Volley 2019 Super Finals

Luxembourg, April 20, 2019. After qualifying for the second final of the CEV Champions League of his career and for the semi-finals of the Russian Super League, French superstar Earvin Ngapeth is about to take on the final stretch of his season with Zenit KAZAN – and he sounds determined to win everything. ‘The motivation is at its peak’, he said.

Let us go back first to the semi-final of the Champions League that you won against PERUGIA, what kind of impressions do you still have from those two matches?
I think these are the two best games we have had this season. We made a big step by claiming the first victory away from home. In addition to that, they played two days later in the league and they lost again in the quarterfinals of the Superlega against Vero Volley MONZA; it was hard for them to recover mentally. We played very much focussed at home and that allowed us to win.

You are in the final of the Champions League for the second time, is that obviously something to be satisfied with?

It is clear that I came here to win the Champions League. We are yet to achieve this goal, but I am extremely happy to play this final in Berlin against Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA.

What do you recall of your first Champions League final lost in 2013 with Bre Banca Lannutti CUNEO against Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK?
It was inevitably a big disappointment, but I was young at the time (22 years old), it was already a bit like a dream come true for me to be in the final. When we lost, I was disappointed, but I told myself that I would still have time to contest other such finals. Finally, the second comes only six years later, so I really do not want to miss it this time.

How do you see this finale?

Cucine Lube is a big team, and I am not surprised at all that they are in the final, because they were among the favourites of the competition, just as PERUGIA, like us, so it is going to be a big, big game. However, we have talked about it among us: there is a big goal before, it is to win the national championship, and for now, we focus on it, with the first semi-final coming up next weekend.

Back to the CL semi-final, you faced the Cuban-born star Wilfredo Leon, whom you replaced in Zenit. Was it a match in the match?

It was not a match in the match, because PERUGIA is a very complete team, it is not only Leon. I often repeat that Volleyball is a team sport in which the seven players are all equally important. However, for sure, for me, it was a source of motivation and more: first, because I had replaced him, then because we played PERUGIA, who was our great rival for the five years that I spent in Modena.

Leon was incredibly successful with Zenit. Did you feel any pressure when taking over?

Everyone made me feel very comfortable about it when I arrived. After all, Zenit KAZAN is a club that has won everything in recent years, the team had won last season the five competitions they participated in, so yes, there was pressure, but no one came to see me to say it, I put it all alone on myself. It was a little difficult at the beginning, because I did not reach my best level right away. There was the elimination in the pool phase at the World Club Championship, which necessarily increased the pressure, but we have done a lot of work and for the moment, apart from this failure, we won the Cup and the Supercup. It has been a positive season, but we still have to win the Championship and the Champions League.

To read part two click here.

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