Club Volleyball

AKAA Volley sensationally advance to #CEVChallengeCupM 16th Finals


Article Thu, Nov 2 2023

In their only second participation in the CEV European Cups, Finland’s AKAA Volley have somewhat caused a sensation in the 32nd Finals of the men’s Challenge Cup, where they recorded two 3-1 wins in as many matches with Slovenia’s Merkur MARIBOR. The team from Slovenia had travelled to the snow-covered city of Akaa for a re-match attended by more than 700 spectators, who witnessed a superb performance by the home side resulting in a 3-1 victory (25-17, 25-18, 20-25, 25-19). With this combined to another 3-1 victory from a week earlier in Slovenia, AKAA Volley have advanced to the 16th Finals where they are due to play Ribnica KRALJEVO of Serbia in late November. 

Strong blocking made the difference for AKAA Volley as they beat Merkur MARIBOR 3-1 for a second time

AKAA Volley were obviously the dominant force even though their reception was weaker (41%) than the performance shown by the Slovenian team in this compartment (60%). However, AKAA Volley made the difference in attack with a 52% success rate against 36% only for the visitors. That was the main reason behind the result. Moreover, the Finns registered as many as 14 blocks vs. only six for the Slovenians to make up for 22 service errors. The third set went to Merkur MARIBOR mainly because AKAA Volley coach Olli Kunnari changed three players from the starting six after the team’s qualification to the next round of the Challenge Cup was secured. It took some time for the hosts to find their balance again. The fourth set was again quite solid with Merkur MARIBOR putting up a fight up until 11-all. 

The best players of the match were AKAA Volley middle blocker Antti Taponen and the opposite of Merkur MARIBOR, Sani Adžović.