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14/03/2018 17:18
“Flying” Olympiacos claim 3-0 victory in first round of #CEVChallengeCupM semis, Maliye Piyango to surprise Bunge RAVENNA
2018 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Men

Luxembourg, March 14, 2018. The Greek power of Olympiacos PIRAEUS opened the first round of the semi-finals of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Men with a great success vs. their well-known opponent of Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT.  The players around head coach Fernando Muñoz Benitez were “on fire” and took a 3-0 win, not allowing the home team to take control of the game at any time. Todor Aleksiev from Olympiacos PIRAEUS, who was part of Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT for a number of years, and even the captain of that team, was the best scorer of the match with 14 points to his name. In the other semi-final match, played later today in Ravenna, Maliye Piyango SK ANKARA surprised their opponents from Bunge RAVENNA. The Italian team lost 0-3 and will have to claim an obligatory victory in the upcoming round next week, if they want to proceed to a Golden Set. The visiting team performed very well in the different aspects of the game. It took them only 82 minutes to close this matchup with a deserved win.

Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT (RUS) vs. Olympiacos PIRAEUS (GRE) 0-3 (21-25, 21-25, 19-25)

    Gazprom-Ugra SURGUT did not perform well in attack and made also a lot of unforced mistakes. On the other hand, Olympiacos PIRAEUS took control of the action, being more stable in the different aspects of the game.
•    The first two sets unfolded quite the same way, with the score being almost always in favour of Olympiacos. Only in the end of these sets the players of Gazprom-Ugra showed some more fighting spirit and brought the intrigue back, but Olympiacos seemed to be very well concentrated. The Greek side took advantage of the unforced mistakes made by their opponents and closed these two parts in their favour.
•    The Russian outside-spiker Vladimir Ivanov was forced to leave the court because of an injury he suffered from. He was playing well in the first set, realising five out of 10 attacks. After he left the game, it was difficult for the Russian side to get back into the right rhythm.
•    The hosts tried to make it difficult for Todor Aleksiev – a player well-known in Surgut, but Aleksiev was able to cope with that, showing the best of his skills, making decisive performances in  the end of each set.
•    Gazprom-Ugra tried to find a proper response to the situation in the match, making a number of changes (changing the positions of some players, including changing the setter and some outside hitters, but this wasn’t enough for the home squad to come back in the game). On the other hand, Olympiacos were playing all the match with the same six players, making tactical double changes in the end of each set.

Fernando Muñoz Benitez, head coach of Olympiacos PIRAEUS: “We studied our lesson very well, meaning that we have watched and analysed the games of Gazprom-Ugra in the last seasons.  We were very concentrated today, and that's why we have claimed such a result. We achieved the result we were searching for in Surgut, but the fight does not end here. The Russian team is good, both technically and physically and in the second game we need to be very careful.”
Todor Aleksiev, player of Olympiacos PIRAEUS: “I don’t expect an easy game at home. Maybe it would be even harder for us to play at home, because we have a lot of fans, who, of course, will be supporting us, but we will try not to disappoint them, so there might be a bit of tension. On the other hand, the other team has nothing to lose and could play in a very relaxed way. So, it could turn out that the upcoming match may be a difficult one for us, so we need to stay focused and play the same way as we did today.”
Ruslan Zhbankov, assistant coach of Gazprom-Ugra: “We were disastrous in terms of effectiveness of our attack. We completely failed today, while the opponent attacked in the best possible way. Olympiacos is a very well-organised team, highly qualified and very balanced - almost all of their players play in the national teams of their respective countries. Today, the opponent was stronger. For us this is a shocking result, but we will try to get back on our feet and get ready for a battle in the next match.”

Bunge RAVENNA (ITA) vs. Maliye Piyango SK ANKARA (TUR) 0-3 (21-25, 19-25, 23-25)

•    The key player for the team of Maliye Piyango SK ANKARA in the first set was Oliver Venno, who scored seven points. His performance and the nine mistakes made by the hosts (three by Paul Buchegger) were decisive for the eventual outcome in this part of match.
•    In the second set the visiting team made three blocks, while the Italian side put on their record only one. Precisely the performance at blocking made the difference between the two teams, so that Maliye Piyango won this set as well. Venno with his two aces and seven points, plus the good performance of Mihajlo Stankovic (57% in attack) were crucial in this set.  
•    In the third set Bunge RAVENNA started better. The hosts took the lead by 11-6, but Maliye Piyango found a proper way to react – Venno was leading his team towards the final victory, scoring nine more times and finishing the match with 23 points in total.
•    Maliye were able to record nine blocks, compared to only one for Bunge.  In addition, Bunge RAVENNA made too many mistakes (24 vs. 19 for Maliye), which eventually were one of the reasons for the Italians' loss.
•    It was a good match for Stankovic who put three blocks next to his name. Kemal Kayhan also played a good match, having recorded an 83% success rate in attack.  
•    It was a bad night for Bunge RAVENNA – Cristian Poglajen registered 56% in attack and 17 points in total.

Fabio Soli, head coach of Bunge RAVENNA: “Unfortunately, we did not play with the same conviction of our opponents, who took to the court with great determination and desire to win. We made too many mistakes, giving a lot of points to the Turks, who instead gave us a lesson on how similar matches should be played. There is still one match to be played, we must believe we can do it, because we have the right qualities and we will aim at winning a Golden Set in Ankara.”

Gjorgi Gjorgiev, player of Maliye Piyango SK ANKARA: “As a setter, I personally “studied” Bunge RAVENNA quite a lot and I think that tonight we played  tactically better than them. We knew they have a good service, so we tried our best in reception and we succeeded. To be honest, we did not expect to win 3-0 and we were prepared to fight more. Winning the CEV Challenge Cup is one of our aims, but we weren’t stressed about that. We try to take it step by step in every round of the competition.”

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News nr. 6 of 36
21/03/2018 18:36:00
Bunge RAVENNA and Olympiacos PIRAEUS to fight for the CEV Challenge Cup title
01/03/2018 22:16:00
Olympiacos rout MENEN to claim #CEVChallengeCupM semi-final spot

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