The games are coming thick and fast now, faster even than my internet access allows me to write
In Poland, Jastrzebski Wegiel won a marathon series against Kedzierzyn in the fifth set of the fifth match. To say it was close is a massive understatement. Four of the matches went to five sets. Jastrzebie won the first and had a lead in the second to go 2-0 up but lost the next two matches. Kedzierzyn then needed to win just one more match, lost the fourth after leading 2-0 and then the fifth after leading 2-1. In all the really do or die moments of the series, Jastrzebski was just that little bit tougher and more experienced. In the 24th and final set, with everything on the line, Ben Hardy was perfect in reception, Pawel Abramov was 100% in attack and my player of the series Patryk Czarnowski won it with an ace. Igor Yudin was MVP of the match, but it really was a total team effort of two weeks. They now go on play Belchatow for all the marbles starting on May 6th. The stats for the match are here, a video is here and a gallery is here.
In Italy, Trento and Cuneo will replay their Cup final in the inaugural V-Day on May 9th. Both teams won their series in the fourth match. Trento needed a run of four serving points from Matej Kaziyski to comeback from a 1-2, 18-22 deficit IN Macerata (stats). Cuneo was relatively comfortable winning in the Green Gym (literal translation) in Treviso (stats). Young receiver Simone Parodi won the MVP and perennial stars Wijsmans and Nikolov were the top scorers. The Cup final was a 3-1 victory for Trento, although Wijsmans was injured and didn’t play in that match. And to further complicate matters, Trento will play two matches this weekend as they attempt to retain their Champions League crown in Lodz. V-Day promises to be a huge event. Italians know how to put on volleyball events.
In Russia, Kazan easily put paid to Dynamo Moscow’s domestic season, while the trains are still running in Novisibirsk and Belgorod. All four matches so far have been five setters. On ‘TheNetLive’ podcast this week, Reid Priddy was complaining about some refereeing decisions at the end of game two that may or may not have cost his team a chance to win. He posted some video of it here. I haven’t had a chance to watch, but I’m sure he was robbed blind. Either way, karma will decide in match 5.
Speaking of karma, Aris finally lost their semifinal in Greece, with Panathinaikos who will know meet Olympiakos in the final. I recently had a conversation regarding who is the best opposite in the world. I maintain Ivan Miljkovic of Olympiakos is the best. My friend was adament that the last times Miljkovic has played against Panathinaikos’s Liberman Agamez, Agamez has made him his ‘bitch’. Not my words, but I hope I get the chance to see the games somewhere to find out. The only thing certain is that there will be at least three near riots between the fans and about a 25% chance one of the games will have to be abandoned. Unless Iraklis win their court case, and the semifinals have to start again from scratch. It can be chaotic in Greece.
The German season is winding down quickly. Friedrichshafen have won the first two matches with energy to spare. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the games, but it seems from the stats (here and here), that the Friedrichshafen block is controlling Haching well and opposite Grozer is dominating. In fairness to Haching, the two middles from Friedrichshafen are good in attack from anywhere inside the 3m area, and must always be respected. That tends to make things a bit easier for all the other spikers. The third match in on Saturday night (German time) and will be telecast on www.spobox.tv.
The Champions League is on ‘TV’ this weekend. Tune in to www.laola.tv to watch all matches live. The final is actually on at a reasonable time in Australia, 10.45pm on Sunday night. My pick is Trento to beat Belchatow in the final and me to leave the gym with ringing ears.