It was supposed to be a forbidden scenario. ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle was to go out on her own arena, dominate the Cucine Lube Civitanova and enter the semi-finals Champions League. The Italians were to tremble as a week earlier, when they lost 1: 3 as the hosts. But it all went wrong.
The forbidden scenario has come true. ZAKSA fought, but Lube was great
Probably the two best volleyball teams in the world played together in Kędzierzyn. And the score is 3: 0 (25:22, 26:24, 26:24) for Cucine Lube Civitanova it does not fully show what the meeting was like. The Italians finished the first two games with aces, were great in the service and dominated with Osmany Juantoren and Robertlandy Simon. The latter was amazing especially in defense. On the pitch, unlike in the first game, Simone Anzani and libero Fabio Balaso did not disappoint either. They were great, but everyone was aware that they would not play the second match as weak as in the first game of the quarter-finals.
And ZAKSA, however, did not use its capabilities. Benjamin Toniutti directed most of the balls to Kamil Semeniuk, who was much less effective than Łukasz Kaczmarek. It did not function well game at the net and in defense, and it was possible to approach the game of Kuba Kochanowski without any reservations. Great moments happened for the inhabitants of Kędzierzyn, like four single blocks – two each on Simon and Juantoren. ZAKSA fought, but there was no element in which the Polish team would be clearly better than Italians.
ZAKSA did not even want to hear about the golden set, and she played in it as she should throughout the match
There was a golden set, about which the ZAKSA coach initially, Nikola Grbićhe didn’t even want to hear. He said that it would be important to get into the match hard and take control of it. Something that didn’t work out at all on Wednesday. How to motivate your players to play better in such an important moment of the match when he is not going? This is the secret of the Serb. Because the Poles already played the golden set on an equal footing with their rival.
They did not allow Lube to escape, although they did not avoid mistakes. Grbić missed the chance to take a challenge twice, which would have given his team points. First, at 10: 9, the Italians hit the ball four times, but the referee did not notice it, and two actions later, Aleksander Śliwka attacked one of the blockers and the referee showed off the block. Maybe something else was crucial at this point in the meeting? ZAKSA remained calm at the most important moment – when she was one step away from taking the lead, giving her match balls for promotion to the semi-finals Champions League.
The Kędzierzyn players played as they should throughout the match. The key actions were completed by the substitute in the middle, Krzysztof Rejno, Kamil Semeniuk and Łukasz Kaczmarek. It happened 13:13 and ZAKSA gave the first match ball with a score service Jakub Kochanowski. A moment later he wasted the chance to end the match, but a moment later Łukasz Kaczmarek got another match. His serve was great and he hit a Lube player and the ball bounced to the side. It was 16:14 and ZAKSA could enjoy the win. No matter how tired. It is important that it was maintained after weaker moments during the three previous sets.
“The miracle did not happen”
“Lube surrendered in the golden set” – this is how the Italian portal oasport.it describes its report from the match against ZAKSA. “Civitanova was close to a great feat, but ZAKSA makes it to the semi-finals after the golden set. For the defender of the title, catching up with a 3-0 win was not enough. The miracle did not happen” – reads in the text “La Gazzetta dello Sport”.
ZAKSA will learn a lot after competing and winning against Lube. Patience and faith in your own abilities, but also withstanding pressure. This saved them on Wednesday and is the only right way to success not only in Poland but also in Europe. The Polish team will play again in the Champions League semi-finals and it must be said: there is a chance for final success. Two years ago, she was eliminated from the tournament at this stage PGE Skra Bełchatówwhich in both games against Cucine Lube Civitanova was much weaker than the Italians. Now Grbić’s team can aim for the final in Verona. And even to think about the final victory, because with this victory in the golden set, she confirmed that she is able to pass even the most difficult test to which she is subjected.
PGE Skra is still fighting for the semi-final
Now the players of Nikola Grbić will be waiting for their rivals. Sir Safety Perugia Vital Heynen and Wilfredo Leona had already advanced to the semi-finals. There may be one more Polish team in it – PGE Skra Bełchatów, which in the first match, however, lost to Zenit Kazan 1: 3. ZAKSA will play with one of these teams. The rematch on Thursday, March 4 at 4:00 p.m.