Friedrichshafen did not slip up, to meet Berlin in the final
The semifinal playoffs between the new Cup holder VfB Friedrichshafen and Generali Unterhaching offered a remake from the 2012-2013 campaign and were surely attracted most of the specialists’ attention. Just like last year, the lads of Stelian Moculescu seemed more prepared and will fight for the title at the end of April for a second season in a row against Berlin Recycling Volleys.
The third and the fourth game of the tie between the Romanian coaches were quite dramatic. The opening two encounters were mostly dominated by a single team. Haching arrived at the Bodensee on Sunday, 13th April, having beaten their opponents in straight sets at home to tie up the series. In these last games, however, Friedrichshafen demonstrated all their weapons. Heavy bomb serves, good block, highly varied attacks by Valentin Bratoev and Ventsislav Simeonov added to the clever setting by the Serbian international Nikola Jovovic made the difference for the 2007 CEV Champions League winners. Equally important were the digs and saves of probably the best young libero in the world these days, the Frenchman Jenia Grebennikov.
The third and the fourth game, the latter held in the Generali Arena in the outskirts of Munich, had something in common, apart from good volleyball, of course. Haching held the initiative twice in large portions of the fourth set, leading by a five- or even six-point margin, and failed to enter tie-breaks twice. Claims for wrong referees’ decisions marked the end of these two battles, but in the end it wasn’t the men on the chairs who dropped the team’s momentum. Konstantin Shumov was the man missing in Friedrichshafen, but his appearance throughout the match didn’t help the Oberbayern team. Ewoud Gommans finally gained playtime as a full-time starter in important games, but despite finishing the last home game with a good attack percentage, he was shaky in the opening set and was quickly subbed by Jan-Philipp Marks before the first technical time-out. The opposite Marien Moreau has had better days in his career, so, in my opinion, he also underperformed in the semifinal playoffs.
The reception weakness of Friedrichshafen and Valentin Bratoev in particular is well-known, but the two Frenchmen Grebennikov and Geiler did a great job covering him when needed. The form of Simeonov and Bratoev, however, has been key for Moculescu’s team as it helped them win the German Cup a month ago against Berlin in Halle in a pre-match of what will follow in April and May. Not only because of that 3-2 win, but mostly based on their overall performance I think this year’s finals will be more balanced and interesting than last year’s. Also, all the signings Moculescu recruited last summer were meant to help steal the crown from Mark Lebedew‘s side. A Champions League fiasco put a dark spot on VfB’s ambitions for the 2013-2014 season and clearly indicated that the team is not ready for something big, either internationally or locally. Now it is time they proved the Cup won’t be the only title they will get. Berlin’s Bundesliga dominance has been vivid over the past 24 months, maybe it is exactly this roster of Friedrichshafen finally ready to stop the sequence. And they are obliged to take at least one victory in Berlin’s kingdom – Max-Schmeling-Halle.
Match 1: VfB Friedrichshafen – Generali Unterhaching 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-16, 25-13)
Match 2: Generali Unterhaching – VfB Friedrichshafen 3-0 (34-32, 25-21, 25-21)
Match 3: VfB Friedrichshafen – Generali Unterhaching 3-1 (25-16, 24-26, 25-22, 25-22)
Match 4: Generali Unterhaching – VfB Friedrichshafen 1-3 (17-25, 17-25, 25-20, 23-25)
Not much is there to be said about the reigning champions’ run to the final. I expected a bit more from Buhl in terms of resistance, but they could not really cope with the physical prowess of the capital men. TV Ingersoll Buhl’s main star, the opposite Marvin Prolingheuer, was very quiet in all three games, the Estonian outside hitter Martti Juhkami was the only threat in the second game of the series with his 20 points.
Match 1: Berlin Recycling Volleys – TV Ingersoll Buhl 3-0 (25-14, 25-12, 25-19)
Match 2: TV Ingersoll Buhl – Berlin Recycling Volleys 1-3 (25-19, 14-25, 23-25, 22-25)
Click Here: cheap nrl jerseysMatch 3: Berlin Recycling Volleys – TV Ingersoll Buhl 3-1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-13, 25-21)
The finals start on Sunday, 27th April, when Berlin take on Friedrichshafen at home.