Date: 19 March 2019, 19:02
Source: CEV
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Zenit KAZAN survive six-set thriller to stay on track towards defending European crown

Zenit KAZAN and Trefl GDANSK engaged in another five-set thriller in the second leg of their quarterfinal clash in the 2019 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men. This time, the Polish side came out victorious to put a stop to the Russian standout’s 30-game winning streak only to allow Zenit to win the Golden Set and stay on track towards defending their title from the competition.

Zenit KAZAN (RUS) vs. Trefl GDANSK (POL) 2-3 (23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 29-27, 15-17); Golden Set 15-12

•    After Zenit KAZAN came from behind and snatched a gutsy 3-2 victory in the away match, the club from Tatarstan was on the verge of disaster playing the return game at home. In the fourth set, Trefl GDANSK missed out on four match points, before Maxim Mikhailov’s ace brought the match to a tie-break, where the team of Vladimir Alekno got the “right to make a mistake.”

•    Maciej Muzaj was the best scorer of the match with 26 points for Trefl.

•    The last time when Zenit were overhauled in a Champions League match was on March 16, 2016 by PGE Skra BELCHATOW and since then they had extended their winning streak to 30 matches. Another Polish club interrupted this fantastic series.

•    After winning the crucial Golden Set by 15-12, Zenit qualified to the last four of the Champions League for the ninth time in a row. The Tatars claimed the trophy in the last four editions of the competition.

•    The six sets in Kazan lasted for more than three hours – a new record high for Zenit.

Vladimir Alekno, head coach of Zenit KAZAN: “As for the technical faults, we played shamelessly badly, with a huge number of serving errors. I think it is all about psychology. We do not train less, the players are experienced, but the pressure is really high. We showed strong character. Such victories will be beneficial for the team.”

Andrea Anastasi, head coach of Trefl GDANSK: “After such a match I want to thank all the mothers of my players, as they gave birth and brought up such good athletes. I think it is the least you can say after such a brilliant performance. I think that today we made a good thing for Volleyball in Poland. We showed to Europe and to the world that Poland has great teams. Of course, my players made great things; they played hard, played with all energy that they have. We showed really good Volleyball. It was an amazing match and I am very happy for the Polish fans from Gdansk that very energetically supported us from the stands. This season we play pretty well in the Champions League. Unfortunately, we are not so good in the national championship of Poland. Champions League matches are very energy-consuming, you play hard against such teams as Zenit KAZAN and you have to go strong in the national championship. That’s challenging. That is the only thing I am not happy about this season. When you have an opportunity to show your level, which we had in match against Zenit, we did it.”

Piotr Nowakowski, middle blocker of Trefl GDANSK: “It was one of those moments in one’s career when  you are so close! We had four match points, then we had a Golden Set, and yet nothing went as we wanted it. We played really well tonight and, probably, we lacked a bit of luck. We had our chances, we didn’t take them, so it is all on our side. We could easily, well, maybe not so easily, but still win 3-0 or 3-1. It is just sports and today Zenit were a bit luckier. We also had our chances in Gdansk. Now we can say it is not a pity, but it will hurt - not tonight, but tomorrow, a little bit.”