Doha, Qatar, November 7, 2009 - PGE Skra Belchatow of Poland rebounded from one set down to win three successive sets on their way to defeating Zenit Kazan of Russia 3-1 (15-25, 25-23, 25-21, 26-24) in the first semi-final of the 2009 Men’s Club World Championship at the Aspire Zone Indoor Hall in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
The victory sees Belchatow qualify for Sunday’s final while Zenit will play for the bronze medal. The brilliant attacker Bartosz Kurek, the opposite Stephane Antiga and the setter Miguel Falasca were the key to victory for the Polish club, the first topping the match scoring with an impressive 28 points, the second for both his attacking and defensive role and the third with his magical setting throughout the match. Sergey Tetyukhin was Zenit’s top scorer with 24 pts.
Zenit Kazan started the match using their main weapon Sergey Tetyukhin who, with his strong serving game, served up the first point of the match with an ace before Zenit kept up the pressure through their blockers to take an 8-4 lead into the first technical timeout. The Russian team succeeded to also use the wing spikers when they received well and Maxim Pantelemonenko did well to penetrate the Polish block forcing Belchatow coach Jacek Nawrocki to call two timeouts with his side down 13-7 and 14-7. Some late Belchatow substitutions made very little difference as Zenit marched to the first set 25-15.
A change of strategy in the second set by Belchatow immediately paid dividends with Kurek making some headway against the solid Russian block with some outstanding spiking, while Marcin Mozdzonek improved the Polish side’s defence to hand them the lead 8-5 at the first Technical Timeout. However, Zenit soon regained their rhythm and succeeded to tie the set at 16-16. The remainder of the set went point by point until Antiga subbed on to score the crucial point that handed Belchatow the set 25-23.
The third set saw frequent attacking and defensive mistakes from the Russian team allowing the Polish side to lead 7-4 before Zenit coach Vladimir Alekno called a timeout with the set tied at 7-7 after some skilful combinations from the experienced setter and Zenit captain Lloy Ball. Belchatow led again narrowly 8-7 at the first Technical Timeout and continued with a steady performance led by the setter Falasca. Antiga and Kurek combined well to extend the lead to an incredible 16-8 at the second Technical Timeout. A change in strategy from Alekno saw the point deficit diminish to 16-14 but super subs Mariusz Wlazly and Kurek scored points at crucial times to finish the set at 25-21 and to give Belchatow a 2-1 lead.
Zenit improved their defence and reception in the fourth set to gain a healthy 8-5 lead at the first Technical Timeout. Kurek continued his marvelous performance in spiking from both the front and backlines to lead his team back but Tetyukhin kept Zenit’s noses in front at 16-14 at the second Technical Timeout. However, it was all left to Antiga and Kurek to provide the swansong with some inspirational play when they overcame the Russian block at critical moments to win the set 26-24 and the match 3-1.