Team wins first leg in total team effort
Generali Sport Arena, February 2 - Generali Haching took a major step towards qualifying for the next round of the CEV Champions League, beating Jastrzebski Wieleg 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 20-25, 25-19). The return match is on Tuesday in Poland.
"Tonight we showed we can play well against a strong opponent," exclaimed Haching head coach Mihai Paduretu. "I'm happy for the team and for our fans. We are going to continue to work and be the best six teams in Europe."
Despite the easy final result, each set was played with intensity and included momentum swings for each club. Jastrzebski started the first set up 8-6 after the first technical timeout. Haching were able to keep close despite service errors. Tied at 14-14, Max Günthör scored on a pair of kills and blocks, Leonardo dos Santos and Paul Carroll added kills in a points run that decided the first set, 25-22.
The second set started the same, with Polish club jumping out to an 8-4 lead. After the technical timeout, Haching were spurred on by a long rally aided by huge blocks by Günthör and a save by Ferdinand Tille to win the point. From there, dos Santos' attacks were breaking down the Jastrzebski defense, and breaking faces. One of his thunderous spikes caught the face of Bartosz Gawryszewski. He was knocked down for a minute and he had to leave the match. Carroll added 3 kills and Haching had caught up, 15-15. The visitors kept it close but Günthör and dos Santos teamed up with 5 kills to finish off the set in flurry, 25-20.
The pattern held in the third set - the team with the early lead would lose the set. This time it was Haching leading 9-5 early. But too many errors by TSV and Jastrzebski finally put together their most solid run of play with 7 kills and 4 aces that helped them steal a set, 25-20.
Lorenzo Bernardi's club carried the momentum into the beginning of the fourth set, starting off 4-1 and were hoping to break the pattern. But Haching's Denis Kaliberda stepped up with 6 kills and an ace during a 19-9 swing. And the Big Three were not going to let night finish without being heard. Max Günthör and dos Santos finished strong, adding 6 points. And Carroll's kill was the final nail in the set, 25-19 and victory was secured.
"The stats show that we were better in all positions, every player did their job well," analyzed Paduretu. "Jastrzebski had a couple of players play less than their level but (despite losing the 3rd set), we stayed calm. We were patient, never lost our nerves and we dominated."
"Everything worked well for us today," added Carroll. "When we all play aggressive and confident, like we did today, it's hard to beat us."
Haching host A!B!C! Titans Bergisches Land on Sunday at home, first serve at 16:00. The Titans come in as the second-from-the-bottom team in the Volleyball Bundesliga. The chances Haching may overlook their lesser league opponent before their return match in Poland on Tuesday are unlikely as the team is focused on winning. "It will be great to not have a tough match," said Kaliberda. "We will prepare (for the Titans), I believe we should win 3-0 and then get ready for the return match."
Oskar Orlikowski contributed to this article