– We know their game system, because we remember the matches from the previous season – said Kamil Semeniuk, the host of Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle, before the match in Group C of the Champions League with Cucine Lube Civitanova. It was he who in the quarter-finals of the last Champions League edition was one of the enforcers of the Italian champions, who, although they struggled with problems recently, were eager to rematch for the defeat of 14:16 in last year’s memorable golden set. In Gliwice, Lube confirmed its superiority this time, winning 3: 2.
“This is the worst possible rival for us at this point in the season,” the Italian press made no secret of before the match on Wednesday. It was hardly surprising because the players from Kędzierzyn did not lose a single match both in PlusLiga and in the Champions League.
In turn, Lube has been paused since December 26 as a result of the detection of as many as nine cases of coronavirus. Eight players returned to the team before the game against ZAKS, but Jiri Kovar has not yet come to Poland, and due to an arm injury, Osmany Juantorena was missing. Ivan Zaytsev did not appear in the six, but Lube waited out the ZAKS charge and probably won the premiere. The game of Kędzierzyn-goers stopped interlocking mainly due to the lack of effectiveness in the attack, as evidenced by the fact that they stuck to the rivals’ block four times, and did not boast a single eye in this element.
For the first time, Gheorghe Cretu’s players scored with a block in the second game, where they completely dominated their rivals. The whole match was under the sign of the changing, but clear advantage of one or the other team, and when the Kędzierzyn team were already losing 1: 2, Semeniuk joined the game at the key moment. He scored nine points, scoring Lube in each element, and he could also count on the support of Aleksander Śliwka, selected for the MVP of the Champions League 2021.
In the tie-break, ZAKSA was not discouraged by Lube’s advantage by a few points, but first a broken play, and then a block on Łukasz Kaczmarek, thwarted the chance of winning in Wednesday’s match. Now the players from Kędzierzyn-Koźle are returning to the competition in PlusLiga, in which they will play against LUK Lublin on Saturday.
AZOTY GROUP ZAKSA KĘDZIERZYN-KOŹLE – CUCINE LUBE CIVITANOVA 2: 3 (17:25, 25:16, 18:25, 25:22, 12:15)
ZAKSA: Janusz 1, Śliwka 16, Smith 8, Kaczmarek 9, Semeniuk 21, Huber 16 and E. Shoji (l), Rejno, Kluth. Coach: Cretu.
LIKE: De Cecco 4, Lucarelli 14, Simon 19, Garcia 9, Yant 12, Anzani 10 and Balaso (l), Diamantini, Zaytsev 3, Marchisio. Coach: Blengini.
MVP: De Cecco. They judged: Adler (Hungary) and Simonović (Switzerland).