So, a quick wrapup of the last three or four days…
In Russia, Belgorod won the fifth and deciding match of the semi final series against Novisibirsk (report in Italian here). It seems to have been an even team performance with four players having more than 14 points, although 2.14m Musersky 7 blocks must have been important. Belgorod now plays Kazan in the finals starting on Saturday. It will be an interesting matchup with Kazan led by Lloy Ball, reputedly the world’s highest paid player, the marginal favourites.
To the surprise of a few people, including me, Haching won match 3 of the German finals 3-1 in Friedrichshafen in front of 4000 fans, thus breaking Friedrichshafen’s 30 match winning streak in the league. While Haching is certainly good enough to win a match, I thought they be more likely to win the second before being run over by the extra quality of Friedrichshafen. But as the German Mr. Volleyball (Burkhard Sude, more on him in a future post) once told me, “The game must first be played”. And so it must. With Haching going home on a roll for the fourth match it could be interesting. In the normal way of things, Friedrichshafen have a big advantage in the opposite position but if Georg Grozer makes 8 direct errors again (stats here) that advantage would be negated and the home crowd could just push them to a deciding match. The fourth match is on Wednesday and will be live on www.spobox.tv, where you can also see previous matches from the finals and also some VC Franken matches from earlier in the season.
In the first match of the finals in Greece, Liberman Agamez (26 points with 6 aces) didn’t make Ivan Miljkovic (26 points, 65% attack) his bitch, but with Guillaume Samica’s 21 points helped Panathinaikos overcome a 2-6 deficit in the fifth set and win the first match of the series. There are no reports of riots or near riots, but that could be just that it isn’t news worthy. The report is here.
In Belgium, one of the closest Championships battles I can remember played out with Roeselare (Ben Hardy’s ex team) beating Maaseik in the fifth match. Every match was won by the home team and the first four matches were five setters. In the final match, Ivan Contreras led Roeselare with 26 points and and reports of contentious refereeing decision near the end has me easily picturing the Maaseik coach going crazy. The Italian match report is here.