Tonight’s game in the German capital was thought by many to be the last one of the final series, but to everyone’s surprise Friedrichshafen postponed the title celebrations of Berlin Recycling Volleys by winning in four.
The first game of the final playoff brought all the drama from which the semifinals were devoid of. Three very intense sets gave priority to the home side coached by Mark Lebedew before Friedrichshafen collapsed in the fourth set. The service was again the most powerful weapon for the lads of Stelian Moculescu, but unlike their previous playoff encounters, Friedrichshafen could not cope with a very motivated Berlin side from the third set on. The visitors demonstrated they will not be a punching bag for the defending champions and fought bravely despite the defeat. Ventzislav Simeonov was once more the leading scorer for the 2007 Indesit Champions League winners with his 19 points, but he couldn’t be supported too much this time around by Valentin Bratoev who was relatively more silent than expected. Paul Carroll was the most reliable attacker for the setter Kawika Shoji and contributed with the amazing 31 points that helped Berlin take the lead.
Berlin Recycling Volleys – VfB Friedrichshafen 3-1 (27-25, 23-25, 26-24, 25-15) (Series 1-0, best of 5)
At Bodensee VfB had a great chance to tie up the series based on what they showed in Berlin. An early headstart gave the home side a respectable 8-point lead in the opener. What was more optimistic for Moculescu, the attack attempts of Berlin were not working fine. But the men in orange and black wouldn’t be champions if they couldn’t turn an important game around – something that they had actually done several times in this specific season already, including in Europe. Lebedew calmed his team down and the reigning Bundesliga kings were soon rocking. Carroll and Kromm enjoyed a productive evening with 24 and 19 points respectively, whereas 23 points by Simeonov were once again not sufficient for a VfB’s triumph.
VfB Friedrichshafen – Berlin Recycling Volleys 1-3 (25-17, 23-25, 21-25, 20-25) (Series 0-2)
Experts were all aware of the mountain Friedrichshafen were requried to start climbing. Even statistics was in Berlin’s favour – no one has beaten them in Max-Schmeling-Halle in the domestic 2012-2013 season. This is why tonight’s game was predicted as the “matchpoint” of the series.
Well, volleyball would not be such a tremendous sport if from time to time experts are not proven wrong. The composure I expected from Friedrichshafen on Sunday at home had been four days late and arrived in the German capital just in time to spice the final series. Probably relaxed as a result of the comfortable series lead, Scott Touzinsky & Co. were not especially efficient in game 3. On the other side of the field they faced a very determined opponent that had a parting opportunity to extend the current season a bit more. Not only did VfB bring the playoff to a fourth match at home, but they did it in fashion. A 3-1 win might’ve been even more convincing had Ventzislav Simeonov served in at 23-24. The big star of the evening, however, was the middle blocker Max Gunthor whose 10 stuff blocks made the difference. VfB dominated the serve line, block efficacy, attack and even reception and totally deserved the victory. It was a very bad moment for a first home defeat for Berlin Recycling Volleys because they totally lost the momentum they had been in possession of. It was also probably the weakest display they have had all season long and will now have to travel the distance to the “ZF Arena” once more.
Berlin Recycling Volleys – VfB Friedrichshafen 1-3 (22-25, 21-25, 25-23, 20-25) (Series 1-2)
Match 4 is scheduled on Sunday, 05.05 in Friedrichshafen.
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