“The victory for MACERATA was well deserved” Generali head coach Mihai Paduretu said after the match which he had dubbed as a situation where a student meets his teacher. He admitted that his team had too much respect for the Italian champion in the beginning, “and unfortunately we didn’t capitalize on our chances when we had some”. After being taught a lesson Paduretu added: “One day we want to play like MACERATA does”.
In a lop-sided match MACERATA quickly settled into the driver’s seat and every time the hosts tried to fight their way back or saw a tiny glimpse of hope the Italian champion seemingly at will just shifted into the next gear. Only in the second set UNTERHACHING for a couple of minutes was on the same level as MACERATA but squandered its chances. Sasa Starovic collected 16 points for the visitors, while captain Christian Dünnes had 14 for the three-time German cup winner.
MACERATA’s head coach Alberto Giuliani wasn’t completely satisfied, noting “that in the second set my team slept for a while and was at risk of losing it”. He however praised his players for coming up strong when they needed it most. “The win is very important for us”, Giuliani said, “if we win the next match the group is ours for sure”.
The pre-favorites of MACERATA were obviously prepared to take their opponents very seriously and stay out of trouble. UNTERHACHING kept it fairly even until the first technical time-out (7:8) in the first set but shortly thereafter the visitors went up by three points (10:7) and widened the gap to four and even five points at times. UNTERHACHING gave up a lot of points by mistakes and never really threatened. After 24 minutes they had lost the first set. Opposite Sasa Starovic collected seven points for MACERATA which was able to limit its own mistakes to a minimum.
It didn’t get any better for Paduretu’s team in the second set. MACERATA continued to play more variably and didn’t give away any easy points to their opponent. UNTERHACHING had to fight very hard for every point but didn’t find a way to unsettle the Italians, winner of the CEV Volleyball Champions League in 2002. This time Generali already fell back before the first technical time-out (4:8) and never caught up. They had a tiny chance though when MACERATA suddenly lost its grip on the match for a couple of minutes. UNTERHACHING came close at 19:20, kept the match tight, even pulled even at 24:24 – only to lose the second set after another 28 minutes.
MACERATA was back on top of its game in the third set and at times put on a clinic. At the first time-out in the third set UNTERHACHING was back 2:8. However, the Bavarians didn’t want to let it go against one of Europe’s top clubs and evened things up once more at 15:15. Teased by David, Goliath MACERATA quickly turned it up a notch again and went up 20:15. Wing-spiker Simone Parodi finished the match after a total of 77 minutes.
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