PGE Atom Trefl SOPOT claimed a crucial victory in the fourth round of action in Pool B of the 2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women as they edged Italy’s rookies Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA 3:1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-21) to cement their second place in the standing and get the right edge in the race for a spot in the Playoff stage of Europe’s elite competition.
After winning two weeks ago the previous matchup at home, the Polish team led by Lorenzo Micelli claimed another victory over NOVARA thanks to a great performance by their Dutch outside spiker Maret Balkestein-Grothues, who scored 18 points with 47% success rate in attack. The same number of points (but a lower success rate) was recorded by the home team’s top scorer Samanta Fabris, who also made 13 mistakes during the game.
The first set was the best for the home team: the ‘Blue Girls’ always set the pace of the game (8:6, 16:10) but closed the set with a tighter margin (25-22). After that, SOPOT improved a lot, step by step, while NOVARA’s high number of mistakes made the difference. Without Danica Radenkovic, who had suffered a slight injury in the morning practice, SOPOT found nevertheless the right way to come back and take the lead in the third set (22-25). Novara tried its best to draw level but with no result: the Atomic Girls won also the fourth set 21-25 and for the ‘Blue Girls’ now the way to the Playoffs has become an uphill climb.
«Congratulations to our opponents, they served very well and forced us to make too many mistakes,» said the Italian mentor Luciano Pedullà after the game. «I seriously hope this is just a bad day, we need to be more focussed,» he added.
A lot of disappointment was felt also in NOVARA’s captain Martina Guiggi’s words: «We are so sad and disappointed, we started in the best way but then we made too many mistakes and what we did was not enough to achieve what would have been a very important victory. Now everything gets a lot more difficult especially when it comes to the achievement of our goals. We must win our next game and see what happens.»
«I must congratulate my players,» said a very happy Lorenzo Micelli, «because it was definitely a hard game and in the end we made it, thanks to a lower number of mistakes than NOVARA. What about the Playoffs? I think we made it there. We just have to win our home game with Calcit LJUBLJANA.»
It was a special game for the Polish middle blocker Maja Tokarska: «I am super happy,” she said, “first of all, because we won such an important game, but also because I had the chance to play again in Novara. I feel a strong connection to this club and at first I was quite emotional. Then, I focussed entirely on the match and everything went well.»