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12/04/2015 21:22
Two sets are enough for Vojvodina to win Challenge Cup and celebrate first European club title for Serbian Volleyball family
2015 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup - Men

Lisbon, Portugal, April 12, 2015. Two sets were enough for Vojvodina NS Seme NOVI SAD to write history for Serbia’s Volleyball family with the first, historic European club trophy for the Balkan country. After cruising to a 3:1 home victory last Wednesday, the young players of Vojvodina were off to a flying start in their re-match with Portugal’s Benfica LISBOA and after claiming the first and second sets by 26-24 and 25-21 they had already crowned their dreams of glory. In the end, though they lost the following three sets (16-25, 23-25, 10-15), the visitors could celebrate a historic achievement for their club as well as for Serbian Volleyball. Benfica had to be happy with the silver medals and with the award for the MVP of the finals being presented to their Brazilian middle blocker Flavio Soares. 

This is the fourth European medal for the team from Novi Sad as it follows on bronze medals they had claimed back in the 1983 edition of the Cup Winners Cup and in the 1989 and 1996 Champions Cup. As for Benfica, their silver medal is Portugal’s second best result ever in the European Cups, with SC ESPINHO remaining the only team from this country to lift a European trophy to date (it happened in the 2001 edition of the Top Teams Cup, and one year later ESPINHO finished second in that same competition after losing the final to Belgium’s Knack ROESELARE). Quite interestingly, Vojvodina had started their European journey this season in the CEV Volleyball Cup losing there in the round of 32 to eventual silver medal winners Energy T.I. Diatec TRENTINO of Italy. After moving to the Challenge Cup, the young players around coach Strahinja Kozic swept all of their matches on the way to the ‘grand finale’ with Benfica.

“We really wanted to get this trophy also to pay back this great audience but in the end we could not succeed in doing this,” said Benfica’s mentor José Jardim in the aftermath of the match. “We could not close the first set and this way we provided our opponents with the right boost of energy and confidence. We have made an extraordinary season, going beyond some major difficulties, with both of our setters not being in their best shape, whilst Hugo Gaspar was ill and had fever. We did everything we could to win this match and lift the trophy, but it simply was not possible. We are sad because this amazing crowd deserved a victory in this European competition but I also have to congratulate Vojvodina on their success.”

“It’s a huge disappointment as we really wanted to win this competition here at home,” commented home hero Hugo Gaspar. “We really tried our best to win the trophy and we are disappointed for not succeeding in achieving our goal. We would like to thank our fans who have supported and accompanied us in this amazing journey. Now we have to regroup because we still have a major goal left for this season which is to win Portugal’s national league.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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