I am back from Krakow and finally <...>
Right, I assume I need to deal with this. I hope, Yavor, you had a pleasant journey and I somewhat understand the bitterness behind your comments given the iconic status of the Trento coach... but I have to say, it's been long time since the "live" impressions sounded so different to me from what the broadcast had delivered. Where I agree is that it was by far more intense F4 then a year ago and indeed the Trento coach had done some decent analysis as for where to serve (deep into zone five). The young Trento setter does indeed look very driven and works superbly on the net. Also, and I have to be honest here, it is not good when the CL is won by the same team twice in a row and absolutely catastrophic when this happens for three consecutive years.
Having said that, I find that you are slightly "underanalysing" things. It is kind of clear that Kazan had a problem with one key position and almost paid the price for that. So I would say everyone was roughly in the same position in this respect. Had there been Kaziyski/had Nelli been fit/Djuric been less chubby... many things could have happened had Muserskiy been fit, you know :). Let us skip this sore loser business.
Regarding the final itself (and this is very much true for the semi as well) Alekno's problem is that his team plays a brute-force volleyball and neglects elementary block-defence. In fact the only game where I could see Leon running for the ball or doing some kind of cover was the away match vs Skra. In part it is the lack of an equal rival, in part it is due to the contracts that have been extended, but the Kazan team was unbelievably wasteful. The only people to defend for Zenit were Salparov and Butko, sometimes assisted by Ashev or Mikhaylov. Zenit has lost practically every net ball in the final. I don't think they feel the need for it, if you see what I mean. I don't envy Alekno in the coming year as there will be even less motivation in his squad. He needs more fresh blood.
Regarding how invincible Kazan was. It is tempting to say that Trento was "almost there" but then one would argue that Rzeszow in the semi was almost there too - had they been a bit more focused in the second set at 8:3. And Skra even beat them in Kazan - and where is Skra now? One thing I am positive about is that, in the tie-breaker, Zenit won one transition out of six and Trento none out of one. In other words, a more hard-working/motivated team would have ended it at 15:8. I would not praise Stoychev's "homework" too much. Apart from the targeted service in five I haven't seen very much of the homework really. Remember, they were in a better position as they knew fairly well who they going to play against in the final. Just take a look in the stats, have you seen these figures before? First two sets to Mikhaylov from the Siberian genius Kobzar went out of tempo, so Max just rolled the ball to the other side. He killed the rest 24 sets at 75%. Leon had 67% in five sets. I guess the home plan by Stoychev was (i) serve in five and (ii) wear helmets? Of note, Rzeszow, that was "destroyed and annihilated" a year ago had Mikhaylov and Leon scoring at 37% and 44%, respectively. They also had 6 blocks in 3 sets, just as many as Trento in 5 sets. Oh, just in case, in the game vs Nizhniy Novgorod (relegated from the Superleague) on 09 Mar 2016, Leon had 48% and Mikhaylov - 59%...
You see, my vision is that the
Austrian Italian team intended to outzenit Zenit as both teams seemed to play very similar volleyball: power serve, scarce middle attack, defence-free. Although the Trento OHs did exceptionally well against organised block, not worse than Leon+Anderson, it was uneasy to win a game like that. As yet another Rus proverb says, you can feed the wolf as much as you like but the elephant would still have a bigger one :). Things were running fairly smoothly until the moment when a couple of kill-blocks made Djuric instantly tired (8/10 in set 1, 0/8 in set 4). Now that was possible because Trento has practically rested their middle attack after the first set. Secondly, Djuric was attacking many "emergency balls" set into a random location by his prodigious setter. If you don't believe me, just take a look how many times Djuric stepped over the three-meter line. He's been "only" penalised three times for that. On the good side, the youthful setter scored 9 points and got the prize (that looked like a 0.5L bottle of vodka to me), which he can show e.g. to his mom. Why I have to give a credit to Butko is that he avoided this Grankin-style cr*p and played a routine and hard-working game with a very balanced setting, tough service and some superb defence. In a game like that, every dig counts. Butko's vis-a-vis dug only one ball (AFAIC) and had a problem chasing the balls around the pitch after suboptimal receptions - see last points in sets 4 and 5, which could have been successful transitions for Trento. Again, the chap is very impressive on the net. With a good reception, he easily tears the block into pieces as he meets the ball very high and the blocker has to react to that. But. Many setters can do this when the ball is delivered straight on top of their head.
Finally, I think you're being too tough on Kurek. Many of the errors he made to give valuable points to Kazan were in fact emergency balls after poor receptions. With a static three-men block in front, one has to look for the options and take risks.