volleyball.  UEFA Champions League: Zaxa Kudzerzhin-Kole beat Lokomotiv Novosibirsk

Volleyball players of Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle have already been awarded the title of European Club Champions, thanks to which they got the opportunity to fight for the Club World Championship. However, they pulled out of the tournament, which ended in Brazil over the weekend. A long trip to South America may cost the residents of Kdzierzyn not only a lot in terms of time, finances and strength, but most of all – results. It is for this reason that the Polish runner-up team decided that they would not go to the other hemisphere. Also keep in mind that they will only have a day and a half to get to Tuesday’s game in Novosibirsk after traveling hemisphere. Competing in the Champions League is a bigger priority for the Kudzerzhin residents, and the outcome of the meeting with Lokomotiv Novosibirsk may be important in the final analysis when reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.

However, the six-hour time difference, covering almost 4,500 kilometers on the way to Novosibirsk, did not prevent ZAKS from achieving an important victory. The players of Kędzierzyn beat local Lokomotiv 3-1, although they had to keep their nerves in check, even if they could be exceptionally calm after the first set, because they dominated the hosts a lot.

– This is one of our most important, if not the most important, meetings in the Champions League group. The Russians are not used to such a diverse style of play as we offer, so that may be our advantage, but they can also win by playing and blocking on their own – ZAKS midfielder Marcin Janusz said before the match.

Indeed, the service played an important role in this meeting, but mainly due to the inhabitants of Kdzierzyn. The first point was already in Tuesday’s match, Zaxa won after an ace sent captain Alexander Aliuka, and later Kamil Semenyuk, the second host, added his goal in this element. Only in the first set, Kędzierzyn players scored three points with the serve, and Lokomotiv, due to poor reception on his part, had big problems with making an effective attack. ZAKSA may have won the opening game 25:19, but later it was more difficult for this dominance. The Russian team led by Płamen Konstantinov sprang up in the second batch, and also began to put pressure on opponents with the serve, thus leveling the match result.

In the third set, ZAKSA was already ahead in the 19:12 minute, so it seems that they will not lose such an advantage and will take the lead throughout the match. However, the plays of Sergey Sawin from Lokomotiv, who was supported in the attack by Drazen Luborik, made the Russian team begin to chase the score and catch up with its rivals. In the end, the outcome of the third party after the fight was decided in her favour, but she was nervous due to technical problems and the decisions of the judges.

First, at 23:23 there were problems with the EP, which caused a very long break in the game. After her, Sawin broke the serve, and ZAKSA got the first ball. She didn’t use it, but won another one after Ayucca’s attack. The Russians protested that the technical redemption of captain Kędzierzyn was not legal, but the judges awarded the Polish team a point. In the last action, ZAKS center David Smith showed an effective mass, and soon the main referee of the Kędzierzyn pioneers again gave a point, realizing the rebound error on the side of Lokomotiv, which was again met with protests from the coach of the home team – Konstantinov.

ZAKSA was already ahead 2:1 and was close to scoring three points for this match. However, there was a repetition of the previous group again. He lost the lead by several points at the end of the game again due to puckering when Sawin appeared in the service area on the Lokomotiv side, and ZAKSA got stuck in an uncomfortable position. Volleyball players from Novosibirsk also guarded Polish captain ukasz Kaczmarek, who was 70% effective in attacking after three sets.

In the end, Zaxa was able to jump the opponents with three eyes (23:20), and after a while got the match ball after Marcin Janusz’s serve in this match, which was shot by Sawin (24:20). However, Lokomotiv’s volleyball players defended three balls of the match, but ZAKSA kept their nerves in check, and Śliwka’s point attack ended the match in Novosibirsk in favor of the LM winners from the previous season.

In the next Champions League group stage match, ZAKSA will once again face a strong opponent, Cucine Lube Civitanova. This match will take place on January 12 in Kędzierzyn-Koźle, and the result will once again be very important for the Group C standings.



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