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Czech Champions Score Big Win in Champions League, Advance to Play-offs for Quarter-finals

In the key match at the end of the group stage, the Lions started with the line-up that did well in the last winning match against Maaseik. They led most of the duel. They finally decided the first two sets for themselves only in the finals, winning them equally 25:23. The second set point in the opening set was used by the all-rounder Casey Schouten, when in a long exchange he defeated the fourth Prague attack. In the second half, the home team even won three set points, and blocker Fynn McCarthy converted the third.

In the third set, they put the guests under even more pressure and completely dominated. They won 25-15, the match ended with a McCarthy smash. The best player of the match was declared the home sweeper Daniel Čech, who collected fourteen points.

The Lions immediately turned their premier participation in the Champions League into promotion. “We all wanted it, we all worked hard to achieve this. I’m glad that it was possible,” Cech told Czech Television. He was also excited about the individual award. “It’s an honor. I’m terribly happy for everything,” he added.

After the spectacular success, even the recorder and captain of the Lions, Jakub Janouch, had a hard time finding words. “Maybe it’s more than the title. I had tears on my face, maybe even one dropped. It’s something incredible,” he gushed. Even after the group was drawn, he believed that the Praguers with Galati and Maaseik could fight for second place behind Civitanova, who had rebounded in performance. “But it was important to show it on the field. It was incredible in all the matches and I am very proud of our team,” praised Janouch.

After progressing from second place in the group, the Czech champions will play in the play-offs for participation in the quarter-finals, where the winners of the five groups went directly to. They thus became among the eleven best clubs in Europe. They have no dream opponent. “It doesn’t really matter who will stand against us. We will try to fight as we have fought so far and we will see,” commented Janouch. “If he was the weakest of the strongest, we wouldn’t be angry,” added Moník. He himself believes that the path of the Lions does not have to stop even in the next phase. “The ball is round, anything can happen,” he said.

At the end of Group D in the Champions League, Budějovice beat Las Palmas 3:2 at home, but they still took fourth place. This is not even enough for them to move to the CEV Cup. Before the duel, the South Czechs had three points for their home win against Lüneburg and had to score to the full in order to have hope in a long-distance fight for third place with the German team. They started well against the team from the Canary Islands, doing well in service and in attack. They took the first set to a balanced end in which they had the upper hand. From the score of 23:23, the guests first broke the serve and then the versatile Alejandro González ended the exchange, in which Jihostroj twice defended well at the net.

However, the home team did not follow up on a 25:23 win and a 1:0 lead in sets. They stopped doing well on the serve, while the volleyball players in the colors of the Spanish club made life difficult for them with this activity. Poorer passing resulted in lower attack success. Even the hero of the match with Lüneburg Ignacio Luengas temporarily stopped asserting himself, although he was the most productive player of the match with thirty points.

The second set was broken in the middle part, when Las Palmas setter Miguel de Amo scored two aces against his former teammates from České Budějovice, and the guests jumped to a 15:10 lead. They already secured the lead, won 25:18 and evened the score.

The third set was tied at 14:14. But then Jihostroj made two mistakes, Las Palmas added a point block and jumped to a crucial three-point difference. The team won 25:20 and deprived South Bohemia of a chance to stay in European cups.

České Budějovice could still fight for a second win in the current season of the Champions League. In the fourth set, with the contribution of substitute all-rounder Stijn van Schie, they led 16:12, and even though they lost the lead in the end, they won 25:23. They also entered the tie-break better, the sides changed at a score of 8:5 in their favor. The guests immediately equalized, but the home team bounced back and held the two-point lead until 14:12. On the first match point, the referees signaled an out after van Schie’s serve, but coach Andrzej Kowal took the challenge and video footage revealed that the ball was good. After the ace, Jihostroj could enjoy a two-point win. He was one point behind third-placed Lüneburg.

2024-01-17 20:07:34
#Prague #Lions #won #decisive #duel #advance #playoffs #Champions #League

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