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23/03/2016 20:19
Lube claim Volleyball drama to shape up Italian derby with TRENTINO in CL semis
2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men

Ankara, Turkey, March 23, 2016. The ‘Match of the Week’ starring Halkbank ANKARA and Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA lived up to all expectations and provided Volleyball fans with a terrific showdown where the Italians eventually had the upper hand at the golden set to secure their qualification for the Final Four of the 2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men scheduled for April 16-17 in Krakow, Poland. The Italians will have the opportunity to vie for Europe’s most coveted crown for the first time since 2009 and will play their arch-rivals TRENTINO Diatec in the semis, hoping to repeat their success from the 2002 edition of Europe’s elite competition, whose Finals were held in Poland as well, and namely in the city of Opole. After Cucine Lube had come from behind to claim a 3-2 home win last week, Halkbank responded by claiming the re-match by the same score (27-29, 26-24, 25-22, 20-25, 15-13) but CIVITANOVA responded by seizing the dramatic and nerve-wracking golden set (17-15) that followed.  

The first set was marked by the many mistakes made by both teams, especially from the service line. CIVITANOVA reached the first technical time-out leading 8-6 and as Halkbank struggled both in attack and defence, the hosts could not make up for this early deficit. Cucine Lube had a four-point margin at the second technical time-out before Halkbank started serving a lot better and eventually levelled the score at 21-all. However, the Italians showed nerves of steel and claimed the rallies that mattered the most to close the opening set at 29-27 in their favour.

The second set was another close race with Halkbank forcing their opponent to make more and more errors and as a result the team from the Turkish capital edged ahead 16-14 at the second technical time-out. However, after the break Halkbank seemed to lose momentum and Cucine Lube responded with strong serving to make it 21-all before the score was levelled again at 24-24. This time around the Turks had the upper hand with Dutch outside spiker Dick Kooy sealing the final 26-24 set win for Halkbank.

The course of the third set was determined by the blocks killed by Halkbank and many service errors made by CIVITANOVA. Tsvetan Sokolov, Kevin Le Roux and Michal Kubiak joined forces with Kooy and the hosts cruised to a fairly comfortable 25-22 win in this period.

Cucine Lube responded by coming out with all guns blazing in the fourth set where they pressured their opponent with strong serves. The Italians claimed an early 8-4 lead and mistake after mistake, Halkbank helped their opponent stretch their advantage to 16-11 at the second technical time-out. The remainder of the set continued in the same way until Cucine Lube secured a 25-20 set win that called for the tie-break.

In the fifth and possibly deciding set Halkbank and Cucine Lube switched sides of the court with the Turks leading the way 8-6. The fans in attendance got to enjoy real world-class Volleyball but two mistakes in a row by Sokolov and Dragan Travica restored the balance in the score. Towards the end of the set Halkbank reduced their mistakes to a minimum and their effective defence paved the way to a 15-13 win that called for the golden set.

This was a real fight with Le Roux, Kubiak and Kooy setting the tone for the home side as Halkbank set their sights on the finish line when leading 11-10. However, the match was not over yet with Cucine Lube restoring the balance at 14-all before they eventually finished it all off at 17-15 to secure their progression to the Final Four.

“I am disappointed that in the end we could not qualify for the Final Four,” the club President of Halkbank, Mr Selahattin Süleymanoglu said after the match. “Our team fought really well but in the end a bit more of luck was on the side of our opponent. I would like to congratulate CIVITANOVA on their victory but also to thank my team because they made it this far and provided us with loads of emotions and great excitement tonight. We could have qualified for the Finals but this did not happen in the end. I also would like to thank our supporters for being with us tonight here at Baskent Volleyball Hall.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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