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04/03/2015 20:04
Zenit KAZAN cruise to speedy win to make giant leap on the road to Berlin
2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men

Kazan, Russia, March 4, 2015. Without the injured Osmany Juantorena Portuondo, Halkbank ANKARA failed to win a single set against Russia’s Zenit KAZAN in the first leg of the Playoffs 6 of the 2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men. Thanks to their excellent attacks and powerful serves Zenit KAZAN scored a 3:0 home win (25-19, 25-18, 25-17) and this way made a huge leap forward on their way to the Final Four tournament scheduled for March 28-29 in Berlin, but the final outcome of this double fixture will be decided only next week in Turkey’s capital.

A knee injury prevented Osmany Juantorena Portuondo from joining the actions to pace up Halkbank ANKARA’s effort tonight. The very first rallies showed that his absence was going to dramatically affect the performance of Turkey’s champions and last year’s silver medallists. In the first set Zenit KAZAN literally crushed the away team with terrific attacks by Maxim Mikhailov and mind-blowing serves contributed by Matthew Anderson and Wilfredo Leon. The Cuban-born opposite scored three aces towards the end of the set thereby moving the score from 16:15 to 22:15 and paving the way for the final 25-19.

In the second set the Turkish squad made a lot of mistakes at serving and could hardly seal the attacks stopped by the Russian block. The Russians neutralised Halkbank’s opposite Tsvetan Sokolov, and all the efforts and commitment of Burutay Subasi were not enough to offer a close battle to the Russian champions. Some more spectacular actions by Wilfredo Leon speedily brought the second set to an end at 25-18.

The Turkish side started out strong taking the lead (6:3) at the beginning of the third set, but this success was transient. Zenit KAZAN quickly levelled the game closing the gap with the help of their middle blockers Andrey Ashchev and Nikolay Apalikov making it 8:7 at the first technical time-out. Zenit KAZAN then broke away in the middle of the set by virtue of killer-serves by Maxim Mikhailov and Wilfredo Leon completing a 3-0 “whitewash” match.

“We lost the game even before it started. I did not like the attitude of my players going into this match – they simply failed to believe in themselves. 15 mistakes from the service line are a way too much if you play against Zenit KAZAN. We will try to fix it before the next game,” said Halkbank ANKARA head coach Lorenzo Bernardi.

“We played well, but this is only the first step on our way to the Final Four. Halkbank is a completely different team without Juantorena. I think that it will be a much more challenging re-match for us in Turkey,” said the head coach of Zenit KAZAN, Vladimir Alekno.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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