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Knack ROESELARE put up a fight, end up losing in three sets to Russian Goliath

17/03/17 - 03:04 PM || by CEV

Roeselare, Belgium, March 14, 2017. Many had described the matchup between Knack ROSELARE and Zenit KAZAN as some kind of a battle between David and Goliath. This time, however, Goliath was too strong and David did not stand a chance of causing a sensation. Moreover, Knack ROESELARE were missing two injured players, notably team captain Hendrik Tuerlinckx and libero Stijn Dejonckheere, two players who often have made the difference for the home team – and as a result, Zenit KAZAN rallied to a 3-0 victory (25-23, 25-19, 25-18) in the first round of the Playoffs 12 of the 2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Men.

The score remained close in the opening stages of the first set. After trailing 5-8, Knack ROESELARE fought back to 12-12, causing a first sensation seeing the circumstances. Polish-born Piotr Orczyk, who was playing as opposite hitter, did an excellent job on this unusual position for him. Together with Matthijs Verhanneman and Ruben Van Hirtum, Orczyk helped the hosts keep the pace of the visitors. However, Zenit KAZAN broke away with some powerful serves and it looked as though they would take the set easily (20-16). However, as so many times before in the Champions League, Knack did not give up, fought back and sparked excitement in the sports hall as they closed in at 23-24 with their setter Angel Trinidad before Maxim Mikhailov finished the set 25-23 for Zenit KAZAN.

Could Knack ROESELARE repeat this performance again? With Wilfredo Leon and Mikhailov joining their forces, Zenit rallied to an early 8-4 lead in the second set but after some thrilling and high-class rallies, Knack came back to close in at 8-9. However, this was not enough to pose a real threat to the Russian armada. Even though Ruben Van Hirtum gave some hope to the local fans by scoring for 19-24, Zenit eventually took the set 25-19.

Even in the third set Zenit KAZAN could not show its dominance, at least in the early stages. With attacks from Pieter Coolman, Knack ROESELARE put quite some pressure on the Russian champions (14-15). However, making too many mistakes, the home team lost control and Zenit KAZAN finished the match almost faultless, with Mikhailov sealing the last point.

Even in the third set Zenit KAZAN could not show its dominance, at least in the early stages. With attacks from Pieter Coolman, Knack ROESELARE put quite some pressure on the Russian champions (14-15). However, making too many mistakes, the home team lost control and Zenit KAZAN finished the match almost faultless, with Mikhailov sealing the last point.
“I believe that the audience in Schiervelde was pleased with a true Volleyball party tonight. My team didn’t disappoint and seeing the circumstances, they even performed better than I could ever have dreamt,” commented Knack ROESELARE head coach Emile Rousseaux after the match.

“We won in three sets. Maybe we did not play consistently all the time but we kept control over each set. Now we will finish the job at home,” said the head coach of Zenit KAZAN, Vladimir Alekno.

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