Challenge Cup moves away for Mint Vero Volleyball Monza

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Projekt Warszawa-Mint Vero Volleyball Monza 3-1

MINT Vero Volleyball Monza è forced to surrender to Projekt Warszawa, which won 3-1 (25-18; 21-25; 25-18; 25-19) in the final of CEV Challenge Cup first leg, played at the COS Torwar Hall in Warsaw. An alternating match for the Brianza team, which after a great second set did not è manage to find the right continuity to come out on top in a complicated match, against a level opponent. 

For this challenge, the starting sextet è consisted of Kreling at director and Szwarc opposite, Maar-Loeppky as a pair of slappers, Galassi-Di Martino center with Gaggini libero.

Projekt Warszawa tied the match strongly (3-0), but MINT did not get rattled and got right back into the match thanks to diagonals by Szwarc and Loeppky (4-3). The Poles are solid at the wall and manage to put three lengths back in the lead (6-3), prompting Eccheli to spend a time-out. Szwarc è precise and lethal in attack, putting the Brianzoli back in the running, back to just one point gap (10-9). The hosts, però, did not stop pushing on serve and limiting the Italian sorties in the offensive phase, seizing the break again (16-12) with coach Eccheli calling his men back with a time-out. On the return, Di Martino with the first half on Kreling’s riser tries to exalt MINT, which però fails to close the gap with the opponents, slipping back down by six points (22-17). Semeniuk's ace gives Warsaw the first set-point, canceled by Monza, before the final 25-18.

Great balance at the beginning of the second set, where the two teams respond blow by blow to each other’s attacks (4-4). MINT found the wall that had been missing in the first set (5 to 0 in the fundamental in favor of the Poles), thanks to Maar who was very good at taking time from his opponents, allowing Monza to stay attached to the match (8-6). The Poles are però continuous on serve, combining also a remarkable accuracy: 12-9 for the hosts and time-out Eccheli. Szwarc’s parallel first and Loeppky’s mani-out then allow the Brianzoli to regain the tie: 13-13 and time-out for Projekt. Ace by Loeppky for the first lead of the match (14-15). MINT è driven by the Canadian Loeppky-Szwarc axis, adept at scoring important balls that left the inertia in favor of the Brianzoli, who were also able to find the break at 18-20. In the decisive moment of the set, Loeppky è good at playing with the opponent wall to get the +3 (20-23), before the set-point earned thanks to Szwarc’s power dunk. Projekt canceled the first, but Szwarc left no chance for the opponent defense on the next action and è 1-1 (21-25).

It's Di Martino to open the third partial for MINT (1-1). Loeppky’s pipe shifts the momentum in Monza’s favor (4-5). Break for the Brianzoli with Galassi's ace (6-8). The Poles, however, have no intention of giving in: they push on the accelerator staging the counter-break that brings them to 10-8, before the time-out called by the Italian bench. Monza reacts initially, but Prokejt continues in its positive streak stretching to 16-11, also taking advantage of Vero Volley’s inaccuracies in attack (16-11). Eccheli calls back to sé his boys for a technical suspension; as in the first set, the Polish wall-defense correlation makes the positive difference for the hosts, with MINT unable to get through the opponent’s defense and falling behind by 7 lengths (22-15). Szwarc with the diagonal, Takahashi’s parallel and Di Martino’s monster block (22-18), Monza mini-break and Projekt time-out that was taken advantage of by the Poles to steer the ship into port on 25-18.

Monza attacked the fourth set with grit and courage, for a team that after the first set re-entered the court with a different sportsmanship. The strength è the choral game, which found in Loeppky's tight diagonals and Maar's pipe the best expression, immediately escaping on 1-5 before the Polish time-out. Ace by Loeppky – second in the match – for 4-8. MINT took full advantage of Gaggini's excellent reception, combined with Kreling&#39s skillful direction to control the match and maintain a 5-point lead (6-11). Monza, however, cannot afford drops in concentration and Eccheli immediately calls time-out after two consecutive attacks scored for Projekt (9-12). The hosts come back thanks to wall accuracy and solidity on serve, tying the match at 14-14 taking advantage of the Brianza drop. Break for Monza with Szwarc's ace (15-17), but Projekt immediately regained the thread of the game by equalizing and counter-overtaking: 18-17 and Eccheli time-out. Monza swerves, hit hard at the best moment and cannot find the necessary countermeasures falling behind until 23-18. Szalpuk's ace brought Projekt within -1 of victory, which came with Tillie&#39s winning diagonal. The first round was won by the Polish team 3-1.

MVP of the match Semeniuk, author of 15 points. Among the Monzese top scorers of the evening were the two Canadians Loeppky and Szwarc with 21 balls each put on the floor.

There will not be, però, time to rest for the MINT Vero Volley Monza that on Saturday, February 24, at 18:00, will be back immediately on the court for the SuperLega Credem Banca championship, facing away Padova, before the decisive return match in the Challenge Cup on Tuesday, February 27, at 20:00, within the friendly walls of the Opiquad Arena.

"It was definitely the most difficult match in Challenge Cup this year,” Eric Loeppky admitted to the club official channels. “They were a good team, they served well and committed few mistakes. They took us by surprise in the first set, we played well in the second but did not take advantage of the chances we had in the next two partials. They were more orderly than us: we need to make fewer mistakes in the next match".

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