Serve's Up!

Generali Haching's hopes for a successful season depends on Max Günthör (middle).  Photo HachingAfter a disappointing European Championship for Germany, the Volleyball Bundesliga is back. The upcoming season could be a revolutionary one, as the offseason transfer market may lead to a power shift.

VfB Friedrichshafen's supremacy could be threatened, not by their main rivals Generali Haching, but newly anointed power, BERLIN RECYCLING Volleys. The club from the capital city heavily reinforced their team, by signing three players from Haching - Roko Sikiric, Paul Carroll and Thomas Kmet. Along with other targeted signings, they will be the favourites going into the season.

But as everybody in the world of sports knows, no team has ever won on the paper and the first game of the season proved this cliché very well: the highly celebrated team from Berlin lost at home to evivo Düren 3-2 in front of a soldout and shocked audience.

Is there hope then for Haching and Friedrichshafen? Two teams that have always occupied the top positions in the league table, they will be in the unfamiliar role of underdogs. They will face each other at the Generali Sport Arena in Unterhaching later today, first serve at 16:00.

This game already has a feel of a playoff, the winner to establish from the very beginning who will be the main contender to Berlin. Both teams will also take part to the Volleyball Champions League, so their calendar will be quite full in the next months.

Haching's head coach Mihai Paduretu explained the goals of his team: "Like in the past we will try to win the German league. Berlin is of course the favourite and Friedrichshafen is traditionally a strong team. We have good players, but they need time. They should play together and know each other, so that we can create the right chemistry and become a solid team.  But Germany must play the qualifying matches to the Olympic Games. That means that the players will not have much time to play together, the season will be shorter than usual, so we will have some difficulties."

Among the goals for Haching will be to defend the German Cup. But Paduretu was quite clear that the "Bundesliga is more important." Haching's draw in the Champions League will be tough. Paduretu's team will have to face Bre Banca Lannutti Cuneo (Italian runner-up), Stade Poitevin Poitiers (French league champs), and Jihostroj Ceské Budejovice (Czech Republic league and cup winners). Most definitely not an easy task.

The hope for Haching in the league will be to reach the playoffs as in the previous years, but as Paduretu repeatedly reminded the media at the preseason press conference that his team is quite new. And there is not much time to prepare the team further as the season starts now. There is only one way to overcome the doubts: self-confidence. What do Haching need to build this confidence? Victories. What better match to start the season than the one against Friedrichshafen to start winning.


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