Allianz Milan, victory and qualification

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Allianz Milan to the quarters

Allianz Milano files the practice round of 16 of the CEV Cup finals with a 3-1 win in Thessaloniki and a result that was never in question particularly in the two first and decisive partials.
No, the atmosphere is not the same as at PalaPirastu in Cagliari, at the Paok Palace Sport in Thessaloniki there are only a few hundred spectators, all in the first “ring”, and in a palace of more than 8 thousand seats they make it look empty.
There are no surprises in the sextets. Piazza relies on Porro at the helm with Dirlic opposite, as in the other Cup challenges, Kaziyski and Mergarejo on the sides, Loser and Piano in the middle and Catania at libero (for the defense phase always enters Colombo on Catania). Milenkoski responds with the 6+1 from Cagliari and from the last championship match: Canadian Blankeneau at the direction with diagonal setter Saltaferidis, laterals Van Garderen and former Verona player Truhtchev, center Gatsis and Takouridis, libero Kokkinakis. 

Invasion by Saltaferidis and ace by Kaziyski, Allianz immediately finds itself at +3. Paok’s comeback with a nice first half by Gatsis and Truhtchev’s winning serve for 4-5. On the flip side Mergarejo finds an ace and è 4-7. It's a nice swing of emotions the beginning of the match. A very long exchange with a dribbling infraction whistled to Milan and the Greeks again make it 11-12.

Milenkoski’s first time out comes at 13-16. Zonta and Reggers entered in the meantime for the meneghino double change. The partial seems sealed. Paok brings on Van Den Dries on his return after his ankle injury, but Allianz digs another point right on an’invasion by the Belgian opposite: 15-19. On 16-21, the Greeks’ second time out, but Allianz definitely looks on the ball. Ishikawa also enters in the second line on Kaziyski (he will do it in the other partials as well, but only for reception and defense). The teams force serves and the set slips away, closed by a Loser first half 20-25.

Van Den Dries also remains on the court in the second set for Saltaferidis, while there are no changes for Allianz Milano. KK immediately excelled on serve as in the other European matches, thus came an early break: 0-4 and Milenkoski è forced to stop the game immediately. Captain Takouridis’ serve does not put the guest reception in crisis, Dirlic makes it 3-7. Ace by Piano and attack off Van Garderen, Allianz è to +6 (4-10) with the Macedonian coach also having to spend his second time out. Van Den Dries scores a point, but the distance remains wide between the two teams. Kaziyski’s chestnut on the diagonal (6-12), then è his turn at bat and for Paok it’s still pain: ace and break up to 6-15. In came Ishikawa on one side, Linardos and Mouchlias on the other, Blankenau also excelled forò serving with two aces up to 9-15. Winning serve as well by Loser and on the next rotation double change for Piazza. Passage to the round is inching closer: 11-20 again thanks to an “attack from nine meters” by Mergarejo. Greek flare-up with Van Garderen up to 14-20, then the ball is back in the Lombardi’s court. Mouchlias’s hitting error makes it 16-22. Point number 24 è a gift from Paok with an error in the lineup. A wall by Mergarejo 18-25 closes. 

In the third partial, space for Vitelli and the’former Diavolo, Innocenzi in the center in place of Piano and Loser, Reggers acts as a lateral receiver for Kaziyski and Zonta sits in the director’s chair. Paok also changes centerbacks and leaves gritty Linardos and Papalexiou on the court. The game is played point-to-point. Vitelli guards well at the wall for 6-7. Milan break propitiated by two attacks by Dirlic for 8-11. An endless exchange makes it 10-13 Allianz. Paok does not want to però leave its “home” with an unedifying 0-3 and puts everything it has on the court. Piazza has to stop the game on 16-15 and Blankenau’s serve. Allianz also gives away a point with a formation foul for 18-16, seen by the referees, Turkish Burhan Ilhan and Bosnian Darko Savic. Truhtchev’s ace makes it 22-19 and Piazza stops the game to ask his team to sew up immediately. Allianz struggles in reception, Blankenau’s second volley and a wall make it 24-19, and a Van Garderen attack closes the set 25-20. 

Piazza confirms the’unprecedented sextet for the fourth partial, while Milenkoski gives’ample space to the second lines with the entrance again of Muchilas, Saltaferidis, Sidiropoulos and Papalexiou. Innocenzi hits in the first half, Reggers, Dirlic and the same Innocenzi at the wall for the 1-5. Greek comeback up to 6-7 on Linardos’ serve. Ace by Truhtchev and è 9-9. Milanese break up to 12-15. Paok time out on 14-18 and Petar Dirlic’s serve, who also gives himself an ace on the return. Reggers seals 16-21 and it already seems to see the credits roll. The usual Trhutchev does not think so. Piazza calls time out at 18-21. Great parallel by Dirlic unblocked by Zonta, then Innocenzi 19-24 and first match point. A wall by Innocenzi puts an end to the match on 20-25.

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