MCL Pool A: Battle in Slovenia for Tours!

Audience in Ljubljana didn’t help ACH Volley in third leg of Men’s Champions League. Team fought with VB Tours, but it was enough only for first set. After exciting finale of second set French club took control. In second game Piacenza smashed Marek.

ACH VOLLEY LJUBLJANA – VB TOURS 1-3 (25-23 26-28 21-25 17-25)
ACH: Ropret (4), Flajs (13), Vidic (10), Cuk (21), Pokersnik (12), Rasic (6), Fabjan (L) and Klobucar, Brulec, Plesko, Bregant
Tours: Pinheiro Araujo (4), Baranek (15), Hardy-Dessources (10), Konecny (24), Jablonsky (6), Smith (9), Exiga (L) and Dillies, Collin, Klinkenberg (12), Hoag, Falafala

The home team started without fear and quickly went ahead a couple of points, but the guests bounced back and went in the lead through excellent serves and attacks by their captain David Konecny. They managed to hold onto the lead until the very end of the set before the score was drawn at 22 all. However, ACH Volley eventually clinched the set 25-23 through excellent serves and attacking by Gregor Ropret and Andrej Flajs.

The second set was a story of lost chances for ACH Volley. The home team started excellently and went up ahead early. They extended their lead to 23:19, but this wasn’t enough as Tours VB came back fighting, also through great strategic changes by head coach Mauricio Paes who made three substitutions (Maxime Dillies, Kevin Klinkenberg and Nicholas Hoag) which paid off. The spectators in the Stožice hall witnessed a great performance by the two teams, long rallies, great attacking and excellent defense work. In the end, Tours VB prevailed to equalize 1:1 (26-28).

After losing the second set, ACH Volley players started struggling with their game and allowed TOURS VB to build up a lead (6:8, 14:16). Although the orange dragons came back at the end of the set, it wasn’t enough to change the result (21-25).
The French team started the last set looking determined to end the match there, and although ACH Volley managed to equalize and made the French team fight for every point, they were unable to stop Tours VB, carried by top scorer David Konecny (24 points in the end), on their way to win the fourth set and the match (17-25).

Preess Conference

The head coach of ACH Volley Luka Slabe was disappointed with the missed chance. “We played very well in the first two sets, we were better at reception and attacking, and the lost second set does really hurt. I have to congratulate my players for fighting until the end of the match for every point. We will continue to fight for a spot in the Playoffs.”  

David Konecny, captain of Tours VB, said his teams had problems with their concentration at the beginning of the match: “But we knew soon that the second set was going to determine the outcome of the match and that we needed to win it. We came back because of our fighting spirit.”  

Team Stats:

ActionsSpike pointsSpike %BlockServeRec ExcRec PosErrorsACH4939%10742%58%32Tours6057%13745%63%29

Team Leaders:

ActionsPointsSpike ptsSpike %BlockAceErrorsAndjelko Cuk211743%404David Konecny242061%227


Copra: De Cecco (6), Papi (10), Fei (6), Vettori (14), Kaliberda (9), Simon Aties (5), Marra (L) and Partenio, Le Roux (7), Tencati (1)
Marek: Gjorgiev (4), Elchinov (6), Apostolov (9), Kadankov (2), Yordanov (6), Trifonov (3), Bozhilov (L) and Peev, Mandzhukov (10), Velichkov

Copra Elior got what they wanted as they brought home three points from this game as Luca Monti was able to give some playing time to all 12 players nominated for this match. With team captain Hristo Zlatanov out for a couple of weeks due to a wrist injury, Samuele Papi anchored the home side registering 9 points while Luca Vettori had a match-high 15. Denis Kaliberda also chipped in with 15 thereby confirming he’s a very good and solid substitute for Zlatanov while Kevin Le Roux – who only joined the last section of the game – also contributed to this straight victory. Copra Elior out-blocked their opponents 14 to 6 and that was what made the difference for the home heroes.  

Luca Monti opted for a starting six including setter Luciano De Cecco, middle-blockers Robertlandy Simon and Alessandro Fei, opposite Vettori, wing-spikers Kaliberda and Papi as well as libero Davide Marra. Papi was the one who set the tone of the game right from the start (5:3) and Copra Elior easily broke away in the score (9:5, 12:6). Vettori was outstanding in attack while Simon was the one who blocked the Bulgarian spikers to pave the way for the final 25-15.  

Things did not change in the opening of the second set (3:1) before a few mistakes by the local heroes helped Dupnitsa flip the charts around (9:10). However, Simon, Kaliberda and Papi took their side by the hand and Piacenza quickly moved the score from 15:12 up to 19:12. Two blocks by Borislav Apostolov cut the deficit for Dupnitsa (20:17) and the guests from Bulgaria were even able to make it to 22:20 to challenge the home side in the late phases of the set. However, Piacenza showed good composure there and with Kaliberda and Le Roux sealed the 25-21 that meant a provisional 2:0 lead in sets.  

The third set was very close but Piacenza started out strong (4:2) before Dupnitsa fought their way back and made it 6:7 with Apostolov being once more their most effective player. With two aces by Mihael Madzhukov and Gjorgi Gjorgiev the guests first made it 11:13 and then 14:18 but the local heroes kept cool and started their comeback. After the score was drawn at 24 on a serving error by Dupnitsa, Kevin Le Roux killed two blocks in a row to seal the final 26-24 and a much desired straight victory for Piacenza.  

Press conference:

“The most important thing is that tonight we were able to win in straight sets and take three points from this game” commented 40-year old Samuele Papi. “We struggled especially in the third set but we were able to fight our way back into the game and to save as much energy as possible as we need that for our next matches in the national league.”  

“We have many regrets especially for the chance we missed at 24 all in the third set as the referee whistled a fault; he said that our player touched the serving line with his foot. Anyway, we tried our best and we shall remember that we are a young team that never played before against a strong side like Piacenza. This match was for us a very good opportunity to develop and to grow” said the team captain of Dupnitsa, Gjorgi Gjorgiev.  

Team Stats:

ActionsSpike pointsSpike %BlockServeRec ExcRec PosErrorsCopra4154%14340%65%19Marek3142%6328%63%18

Team Leaders:

ActionsPointsSpike ptsSpike %BlockAceErrorsLuca Vettori141461%003Mihael Mandzhukov10956%012


Descriptions and press conferences: CEV

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