Challenge Cup: Ural and Copra closer to the final

Ural Ufa and Copra Elior Piacenza made a first and extremely significant step towards the final of the 2013 CEV Challenge Cup. The both teams came up to the decisive phase via home wins over Delecta Bydgoszcz of Poland and the biggest surprise of the tournament Dukla Liberec of the Czech Republic. The Russians beat Delecta after an aligned game while Copra Piacenza pricked all bubbles of Dukla in straight sets.


Ural Ufa – Delecta Bydgoszcz 3 – 1 (25-19, 25-23, 22-25, 26-24)

Ural: Falasca 3, Spiridonov 14, Ashchev 15, Vissotto 18, Abramov 15, Kazakov 9, Verbov (L) and Botin 2, Panteleymonenko 1, Zhloba

Delecta: Lipinski 3, Antiga 7, Jurkiewicz 9, Konarski 20, Wika 11, Wrona 12, Debiec (L) and Wieczorek, Owczarz


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The hosts of Ural Ufa dominated the scene in the opening set . A Brasilian star, Leandro Vissotto, was simply unstoppable and his strong strikes provided a lot of points for Ural. Delecta Bydgoszcz was ineffective in offence, moreover, committed a few unforced mistakes caused by easy misunderstandings. A lack of its main setter, Michal Masny, was visible and the aspect influenced greatly Delecta’s disposition in the first set (25-19).

The second set run under the dictation of Delecta Bydgoszcz. The Poles lead even 16-12 during the second technical time-out and then 19-15. Unfortunately for Delecta, Stephane Antiga lost all of his efficiency in attack and Ufa constantly was rebuilding the score. As the result, Ural collected six points in a row approaching to the victory. Delecta was able to do once again, however, it was not enough (25-23).

The third set turned into a very close struggle. It was a sheer point by point play until Delecta scored two points lead (14-12). After that, the result was increased by Dawid Konarski (18-15) what caused a simplification of Ural’s style. Miguel Falasca was setting consecutive ball to Vissotto over and over but it did not bring any expected effect and Ural did not catch up Delecta. The set was ended up by Marcin Wika.

The fourth set can be compared to a sine wave. Both teams jumped high and immediately fell very low. At first, Delecta gained a lead (8-6) which was enlarged to 12-8 but five actions later, Ural has been already leading 13-12 and it seemed that the game is coming to an end because the host increased its advantage (19-13). It would be too simple. A few minutes later, Vissotto and rest were only 2 point ahead (21-19) trying to maintain this supremacy till the end but abortively. In the most important part of the set neither Dawid Konarski nor Marcin Wika were not able to take advantage its chances, hance, Andrey Ashchev to flip the charts around and finish it off at 26-24, with team captain Alexey Kazakov cashing the first match ball.

Dawid Konarski topped the charts of the best scorers with 20 points (49% of efficiency) while home hero Andrey Ashchev stood out with six blocks.


“Tonight we played a very strong opponent and I think that the fans did enjoy the game” Delecta head coach Piotr Makowski says. “We still have our chances to make it to the final but we’ll have to win twice at home, i.e. first the return match and then also the eventual golden set”.

“Though we can discuss today’s match, our thoughts are already on the return game in Poland. We know it won’t be easy as we have studied the matches played by Delecta in their national league and this side is currently playing superb Volleyball” Angiolino Frigoni, the mentor of Ural UFA, stresses. “Quite understandably the match in Poland will be quite different as they will count on many supporters and Delecta will most probably play with another setter. This win does not count as everything will be decided in Poland on Saturday” Ural team captain Alexey Kazakov concludes.


Copra Elior Piacenza – Dukla Liberec 3 – 0 (25-14, 26-24, 25-16)

Copra: De Cecco, Papi 0, Holt 7, Fei 16, Zlatanov 13, Simon 12, Marra (L) and Ogurcak 1, Corvetta 1, Maruotti 7, Vettori

Dukla: Demar 3, Spravka 4, Kaminski 5, Hadrava 12, Hesky 4, Stanek, Kopacek (L) and Burrow, Zajicek, Reznicek, Vodvarka


Copra Elior immediately set the pace of the game (4:3, 7:6) gradually widening the gap with the contribution of Fei and the solid blocks by Zlatanov (11:7, 14:8). Piacenza did not slow the pace down and excellent serving provided by Holt moved the count up to 21:8 with team captain Hristo Zlatanov eventually finishing it off at 25-14.

Dukla Liberec got to the front for the first time in the early phases of the second set (6:9) so that PIACENZA mentor Luca Monti decided to substitute Papi with Gabriele Maruotti. Piacenza could fight their way back drawing level at 10 but a few moments later Hadrava could shake the Italian defense line with a couple of aces (13:17). Maruotti took his side by the hand trying to close that gap before Holt almost tied the score with an ace (22:23). A very close final rush followed with two blocks killed by Cuban star Robertlandy Simon eventually cashing the final 26-24 for the home side.  

In set 3 PIACENZA did not show any mercy and stormed out to a 7:3 and 12:6 lead; by the score of 15:8, head coach Luca Monti felt he could opt for his second lines, so Luca Tencati and Slovak Frantisek Ogurcak joined the game replacing Simon and Zlatanov respectively. With their second setter Antonio Corvetta on court, Piacenza did not lose quality and consistency and could easily wrap it up at 25-16 for a much desired home win in straight sets.

Alessandro Fei eventually top scored for Piacenza with 16 points with Hristo Zlatanov and Cuban Robertlandy Simon also finishing the game in double digits with 13 and 12 respectively. On the other side of the net Jan Hadrava chartered 12 points including 4 aces.

“The first set was too easy” Luca Monti says. “We somehow fell asleep but were good enough in the second set to fight our way back into the game especially on good serving by Holt. The return game in the Czech Republic will be a totally different story; most probably they will be able to count on their starting setter and we’ll be surrounded by a hot ambiance, but anyway we want to claim a second win to make it to the final”.

“We felt we had found our way into the game but after a good start we made too many mistakes” Czech mentor Michal Nekola stresses. “In the second set we even moved to the front and could keep control of the operations until the very end, but missed the most important points where our opponents served extremely well. In set 3 there was no way to stop Piacenza, as they really played with great consistency while the quality of our game dropped down quite dramatically”.  



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