The men’s CEV Challenge Cup has new champions – Olympiacos PIRAEUS!
The 2023 edition of this competition reached its climax on Wednesday night, with the return match of the finals featuring home heroes Olympiacos PIRAEUS and Israel’s Maccabi Yeadim TEL-AVIV. In the end, Olympiacos has taken the 3-0 victory (25-16, 25-21, 25-16).
“I am very happy! During the last rally, the journey we went through to get here went through my mind. I am proud of the club and our fans of course. I am happy for the players and my colleagues. I want to dedicate this trophy to the victims of the recent train crash. Today, we celebrate and from tomorrow, we will start thinking about the other goals we have. The last trophy is always the sweetest but let us not forget how important it is for the club to win a European title after 18 years”, said Alberto Giuliani head coach of Olympiacos.
All in all, Olympiacos were the heavy favorites following their 3-0 victory in the previous matchup in Israel (25-20, 25-23, 25-14). And they’ve managed to double the advantage and secure the title.
Although Tel Aviv took the initiative in the first set and was leading in the first half of it (6-10), Olympiacos managed to get back up and turn over the entire set (18-13). They closed the set with nine points of the advantage (25-16) and seven kill blocks in their ranks.
The second set was an equal game between these two teams (14-14) but new champions from Greece managed to separate and they secured another set (25-21). The last set was going in the favor of the Olympiacos from the beginning and there wasn’t much Tel Aviv could have done. It ended with nine points of advantage for the Greek team (25-16) and them claiming the victory and the title!
Dragan Travica, MVP of the Finals: “What can I say… I have no words! Dreams come true! With these amazing fans at this fantastic club. I really feel proud to be part of this family, the big family of Olympiacos. I want to thank all the people who are with us every day and our team president, Michalis Kountouris, who is always there for us in everything. I believe, today, we shared something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives, and we will never forget it. We cannot forget it! Starting tomorrow, we return to hard training so that we can give our best in the future. Today, we will celebrate, but tomorrow, it is a completely different day, and we must humbly return to work, because we have three more titles to compete for. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to our fans, thank you all for what I experienced today.”
Rafail Koumentakis, player of Olympiacos: “What we live, what we have lived, words cannot express. It is a great feeling to play in front of so many people, more than 13,000 Olympiacos fans! It is awesome to win a title like this. It feels amazing. Our fans are also amazing, they deserve congratulations, as well as the team, the coaching staff, everyone! It was a team effort. We went through tough times, but we came to the end of the journey, and we are proud of what we are living today! We are so happy, thank you to our fans, it is a unique feeling! We will now focus on the remainder of the season, to win domestic titles in Greece! I am… crazy about our fans, they made us feel so special. I will never forget in my life what we experienced today.”
Tonček Stern, player of Olympiacos: “This is a very special moment that we are living. It is hard to express my feelings with all the joy I feel. I think, we deserved this title and today, the fans were fantastic, and they pushed us to this victory. The whole team and all the guys deserved this success, because we have been working very hard all year long to bring back a European title to the team after so many years.”
In the women’s edition of CEV Challenge Cup Reale Mutua Fenera CHIERI and C.S.M. LUGOJ have played their first final match whereas CHIERI now has an advantage with 3-0 (25-15, 28-26, 25-17). The first set was completely equal up until the middle of the set where Chieri took the initiative and managed to get ten points of the advantage (25-15) with six kill blocks! The second set was going in the favor of LUGOJ (2-9) but then begin of scoring-series by Chieri who completely turned over the match and took another set win by 28-26. The last set was going in the favor of the home team and they secured a 3-0 win.
The semifinal matches were played in the CEV Cup, both in the women’s and men’s categories.
The first Semi-Final match was played by the women’s teams of C.S.M. TARGOVISTE and CS Volei Alba BLAJ where Alba Blaj won by 3-0 (15-25, 18-25, 22-25) and therefore has a much-needed advantage for the next match. In all three sets, Alba Blaj was ahead of their opponents. The first and second sets were sort of a one-way street with a huge advantage for the Romanian team. In the last set, all cards were on the table and Targoviste was struggling to get one win in the set, but it wasn’t possible with five kill blocks from Alba Blaj.
The second Semi-Final matches were played by the men’s teams and therefore the teams for the Final matches have been formed. Those are: Knack ROESELARE and Valsa Group MODENA.
Knack ROESELARE won the first match 3-0 and today Bluenergy Daiko Volley PIACENZA won 3-0 as well so an exciting Golden Set was played. In the exciting battle of 15 points, the true winner was ROESELARE and therefore they secured the spot in the Finals.
The match between PGE Skra BEŁCHATÓW and Valsa Group MODENA was also pretty exciting with a five-setter where Modena managed to secure the win and advance to the Final of the competition where they will be fighting against Knack ROESELARE for the title of 2023 CEV Cup champions!