2021 Men

Zenit KAZAN book a spot among Europe's best four for 11th time


Article Thu, Mar 4 2021

A six-time #CLVolleyM champions Zenit KAZAN stay in quest for another crown. After defeating PGE Skra BEŁCHATÓW 3-1 in Poland last week, they needed to win only two more sets to book a highly-coveted spot in the semifinals. The re-match at Saint Petersburg in KAZAN started with the visiting team taking the opener. The irritated team led by coach Vladimir Alekno were extremely motivated to finish their business quickly. Former player of Skra - Bartosz Bednorz and his teammate Maxim Mikhailov again proved their value and with the rest of their impressive line-up they achieved the goal taking a 2-1 lead and then their substitute players eventually emerge victorious from tie-break . Thus, Zenit KAZAN extend their outstanding record reaching the #CLVolleyM semi-finals for the 11th time. In the semifinal they will face another Polish club - Grupa Azoty KĘDZIERZYN KOŹLE.

3-2 (22-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-13, 15-12)

The re-match between Zenit KAZN and PGE Skra BEŁCHATÓW started with a point-by-point race. From 7-7, the visiting team started to build up their advantage that reached five points at 15-10. Kazan were far from playing flawless giving their rivals a helping hand. Even, if they managed to reduce a gap to one point at 22-21, Skra showed their strength to close this part with tricky play from Taylor Sander.

With irritation after losing the first set, Zenit put a lot of pressure on Skra with the serve reaching a 9-5 lead. The team from Bełchatów fought back getting to 11-10, but then with Maxim Mikhailov on serve the hosts jumped out to 15-11. Dominating on court, Zenit confidently won the set with ace from Bartosz Bednorz who only in this part contributed with 8 points.

Zenit needed one more set to get desired ticket to semifinal. With their backs against the wall, Skra Bełchatów couldn't find the right rhythm. Once, Zenit were extremely focused to reach their goal in this part. Having eight points of advantage at 22-16 they easily closed the set with winning block and book their spot among Europe's best four.

In the fourth set both coaches decided to give a chance to play to their substitute players. Skra jumped out to 15-7 lead. With solid performances of Mikolaj Sawicki (6 points) and Norbert Huber (5 points), Skra won the fourth part. Also in tie-break both sides continued the game without their strongest players. With Fodor Veronkov on serving line, the hosts reached two-point advantage at 10-8, using their first chance to win the game.

- Zenit KAZAN committed as many as 10 own errors in the opener, once Skra BEŁCHATÓW only 2.
- In the second set KAZAN put a lot of pressure on Skra with serve that resulted with drop of their positive receptions from 50% in the opener to 30% in the second set, however also the hosts struggled in this element having only 29% in this skill!
- Zenit outblocked Skra in third set 5-0 and with winning block from Volkov they won a set and spot in semifinals.
- Bartosz Bednorz and Maxim Mikhailov shared the top scorer of the match honours with 15 points apiece, Milad Ebadipour was a top scorer of Skra with 10 points.
- Bednorz's numbers included 11 kills, 3 winning blocks, 1 ace, 55% of success in attack and 43% of positive receptions, once Mikhailov's 10 spikes, 4 aces, 1 block and 53% of efficiency in attack.
- Zenit KAZAN reach the semifinal phase for the 11th time.