2021 Men

Zenit emerge victorious from quarterfinal against Skra


Article Wed, Feb 24 2021

The clash between PGE Skra Bełchatów and Zenit Kazan in the #CLVolleyM quarterfinal game at Energia in Bełchatów turned into exciting and fierce battle. After a very tight match, Kazan prevailed in four sets to make a step closer to the Europe's best four. The former Skra's player Bartosz Bednorz had the biggest point contribution in this victory. The re-match is scheduled on Thursday (March 4th).

1-3 (23-25; 25-19; 23-25; 19-25)

PGE Skra Bełchatów and Zenit Kazan started the game at full strength with powerful and impressive actions. Even if Zenit managed to gain three-point-lead at 10-7, it was immediately erased by Skra. Maxim Mikhailov's spikes let Zenit to stay ahead with two points, but Skra were all the time following them on scoreboard to tie at 20-20. Then, a passionate point-by-point race started. Zenit got a first chance to end the set and with block of Volvich and Mikhailov on Sander they didn't waste the opportunity.

After very tight beginning Bełchatów jumped out to 14-10, but committing few mistakes it was reduced to one point. The hosts quickly shacked off rebuilding their advantage. With Sander on serving line they run away with the score to 23-17, closing the set with Ebadipour's spike.

Zenit opened third part with 8-5 lead, but Skra started to chase the score that levelled at 12-12. The action-packed race started again. The hosts impressed with their blocks on Zenit biggest stars, but Mikhailov was often still out of reach that let the Russian team to gain slight advantage. Earvin Ngapeth amazed with spectacular safe from the end of the court as he also set a ball perfectly to Bednorz next to antenna, this gave Zenit 23-21 that was quickly followed by two set points.

Zenit Kazan kept the momentum again starting with early four-point-lead. The hosts were constantly chasing the score, but Bartosz Bednorz was almost unstoppable in this set and with Mikhailov they were Zenit's key to success. Skra tried to fight back but they Zenit used the first match point.

- Maxim Mikhailov contributed with as many as 7 points in the opening set for Zenit. This feat, but for Skra was repeated by Milad Ebadipour (in addition, Iranian outside hitter recorded 88% of success in attack).
- No single winning block for Zenit neither in set 2 nor 3.
- It was very emotional game for Bartosz Bednorz who spent two seasons in PGE Skra and won two medals od Polish Championship. In Poland he also saw his family after seven months in Russia. During the Wednesday’s game he was the best scorer of the game with 22 points.
- Bednorz was followed on scorers' chart by his teammate Maxim Mikhailov who contributed with 21 points.
- Milad Ebadipour was top scorer of Skra with 16 points.
- Zenit Kazan has never lost against PGE Skra in Poland.

"I'm so happy because we showed that we can play good volleyball against really technical team. Skra had a little bit difficult moment as they lost last two games in the national league, but I said to my guys - you have to be ready because this game will be difficult, I played here in the past and I knew how big motivation is when you play in the Champions League. I'm very happy that we took three points and we go to Kazan and there we have to do the same."

Bartosz Bednorz
player of Zenit Kazan

"I think our service was good and we put a lot of pressure on the opponents, we forced them to play on high balls, double and triple block. Sometimes they finished it with amazing ways spiking above a block. Sometimes we could defend better and this is something we need to correct for the away game in Kazan. We need to be more active in defence and I think this was crucial in the first and third set. The second game is still open and we will go to Kazan to fight for golden set."

Michał Mieszko Gogol
head coach of PGE Skra Bełchatów