Head-to-head: Trentino Itas vs Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn Koźle in quest for #CLVolleyM trophy


Article Wed, May 18 2022
Author: Martyna Szydłowska

The wait is almost over as we are only four days away from the most anticipated matchday in this year's edition of the CEV Champions League. Volleyball fans all around the world look forward to the final battle in the quest for the 2022 European crown between Grupa Azoty Zaksa Kędzierzyn Koźle and Trentino Itas during the SuperFinals in Ljubljana on Sunday evening. Everyone expects an electrifying clash, especially because these teams - that locked horns also a year ago in the SuperFinals in Verona - are definitely not strangers to each other.

Last year Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn Koźle celebrated their maiden #CLVolleyM title in Verona after defeating Trentino Itas 3-1

The ultimate Volleyball show in the capital city of Slovenia will see the defending champions Grupa Azoty Zaksa Kędzierzyn Koźle and Trentino Itas playing their eighth Champions League match in history. In Europe's top-tier club competition, the Polish club have recorded four wins so far, beating the Italian side in the last three direct encounters, including the 2021 grand final and two wins in the pool phase of the 2017/2018 edition; their other victory came in the group stage in the 2011/2012 season. In the #CLVolleyM only Cucine Lube Civitanova (5) claimed more wins over Trentino than Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn Koźle, however all Zaksa's wins, except the one in Verona, came in five-setters. So far, the longest encounter between these teams was witnessed on 14 February 2018, when Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn Koźle emerged victorious from a five-set battle after 139 minutes of play, will we see them battling even longer at Arena Stožice? Although it's almost a decade since Trentino outplayed Zaksa in Europe’s prime club competition (twice in the pool phase of the 2012/2013 edition, and once in 2011/2012), the Italian club eliminated the team from Kędzierzyn Koźle in the semi-finals of the CEV Cup - Men 2015. An interesting fact is that the team captain of Trentino - Matey Kaziyski was on the court in six (of those nine) matches against Zaksa.

Both Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn Koźle and Trentino Itas had to battle their way to the SuperFinals of the CEV Champions League Volley 2022 - Men. And the road was pretty turbulent for both teams due to various reasons, including health problems, but they managed to overcome it, even if both squads looked quite different than a year ago. Although, before the start of this season, it looked that we would witness the process of reconstruction in these teams, both confirmed their supremacy in Europe. Trentino, a three-time Champions League winners (2009, 2010, 2011) and the 3rd-placed team of SuperLega 2022, progressed to the final for the sixth time and are extremely eager to challenge the reigning kings and regain the crown, once Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn Koźle want to extend their reign in Europe after restoring themselves to the Polish throne last Saturday and to become only the fourth back-to-back champions.

On the way to Ljubljana, Zaksa, under the guidance of Georghe Cretu, played two matches and nine sets less than Angelo Lorenzetti's squad and that's a thing to keep in mind once looking on the scorers' charts. Either way, Alessandro Michieletto, indisputably, has been the best scorer of this edition with 168 points and with an average of 4,36 points per set. On the side of Zaksa, Kamil Semeniuk has been the most productive player with 109 points and an average of 4,36. Both are young and extremely talented star players who have been widely discovered to Volleyball fans all around the world in the last season, and with no doubt, will play key roles in the SuperFinals' encounter. They are not only powerful spikers, but also amazing servers – Michieletto with 20 aces, is 2nd in the best servers ranking - one winning serve more was produced only by Wilfredo Leon, once Semeniuk - 3rd in the ranking - has already 19 aces under his belt. Last year, it was Aleksander Śliwka, who tallied 18 points and earned a well-deserved MVP award, and Nimir Abdel-Aziz with 21 points to lead their respective teams in Verona. This season, Śliwka was named the captain of Zaksa and is its second best scorer, once the Dutch opposite left Trentino.

SuperFinalists led the way in this edition also in the middle. Daniele Lavia has claimed the third-most points from stuff blocks this Champions League season – 24 (the second best scorer of Trentino with 114 points), Marko Podraščanin and Srećko Lisinac, obviously, are also in the top 10 as well. On Zaksa's side, it was Norbert Huber to deny access to the opponents (ranked 4th with 20 winning blocks), but due to injury he won't be able play in Ljubljana. However, on the way to the SuperFinals, both squads showed great team spirits, which next to their remarkable skills, have been their main strength.

CEV Champions League Volley 2022 - Men will be reaching its climax in the capital city of Slovenia on Sunday at 9PM. Trentino Itas and Grupa Azoty Zaksa Kędzierzyn Koźle definitely intensively worked in the last couple of days to hone in on their skills and tactics, so make sure to watch these two top-notch teams fighting fiercely for the #CLVolleyM title.