Haching survive scare, win 3-1 in Volleyball Playoffs
Generali Sport Arena, Unterhaching - Despite both a Brazilian percussion orchestra to provide a beat and dancers making the moves, Generali Haching came out with two left feet, tripping over themselves in their playoff debut Sunday afternoon.
With all the momentum on the side of seventh-seeded NETZHOPPERS KW-Bestensee in the latter parts of the match, Haching rallied back with a 5-0 run to win the fourth set. Haching escaped with a 3-1 (25-17, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23) win in the quarter-finals of the Volleyball Bundesliga playoffs.
"We avoided a disaster this afternoon," said head coach Mihai Paduretu referring to his team allowing the NETZHOPPERS to get back into the match. "We were our own opponent today."
Haching built a lead with relative ease in the first set, the troubles began when Paduretu's men needed four set points to finish off their opponent. But that was enough to give NETZHOPPER confidence that they can stay with the German Cup champs.
The second set was back and forth between the clubs, neither taking more than a 4 point lead. Haching led 23-22 when Branislav Skladany set up Max Günthör and Denis Kaliberda for easy kills and set was won 25-22.
Haching looked to close out the match starting out the third set up 8-5 at the first technical timeout. Leo Dos Santos recorded 2 kills and a block during the run.
"After we built a 2-0 set lead and 8-5 in the 3rd set, we thought the match was over," admitted Paduretu. "We stopped playing at that point, there was no more concentration on our side."
NETZHOPPER fought back with timely kills and a blocking game that came to life. Haching had to take two timeouts at the end of set to try to regroup and get the sweep but it was not enough.
"I don't know why it was so tough," said Kaliberda regarding to his team inability to get by the NETZHOPPER front line. "They are not that big, but they made some good blocks. We just didn't execute."
The match seemed headed to a fifth and deciding set when the team from Bestensee took a 19-14 lead. But Aussie Paul Carroll got three kills, including one that dramatically ended a long rally. He led the team with 15 points and his kills came at important moments. But NETZHOPPER's Paul Sprung got a huge block on Günthör and the lead was 23-20 for the underdog.
Haching got a kill from Kalibreda and NETZHOPPER committed 4 unforced errors and the match ended with Haching taking the fourth set 25-23.
"Honestly speaking, we deserved to lose the 4th set," said a visibly frustrated Paduretu. "We were lucky to win."
"It's a three-match series so we knew it's not do or die," described Carroll on what his team was going through during the final points of the 4th set. "But we stuck together at the end and the ball just dropped our way."
PHaching had not played an important match since the German Cup final a month ago and their playoff seeding was set weeks ago so it could be they lost focus at the end of the regular season. Or perhaps they hadn't played at home for awhile. Maybe, they are hoping to make it straight to the finals and exorcise their nemesis VfB Friedsrichhafen in the expected championship matchup.
"We made it hard for ourselves, but we are happy to win the match," said captain Günthör, who scored 13 points. "We have to be careful, and not look to far ahead"
"We haven't played at home for a long time, it's now the playoffs," added Kalibreda, who also led the team with 15 points. "It's a wake up call for us, that we need to play more consistent."
Match Two is on Wednesday at Bestensee, a town near Berlin.
Paduretu described their plan coming up. "We have to win 3-0 on Wednesday. If we play like we did today, we won't."
Match Three, if necessary, will be back in Unterhaching on Saturday.