Very disappointing performance and recent form by UV Frankfurt. Friedrichshafen didn't do anything special, apart from their usual tough-to-beat transition and patience, to get an away straight-set win. And whereas we can excuse a single defeat, it's been a while since Frankfurt actually closed a match in their favour. I watched them live in Herrsching where they also dropped momentum, there have been 3 CL defeats already in 2019 and a series of unconvincing results in the Bundesliga. It is true that they are a young team, yet they started the season quite well and you wouldn't expect such a sudden form drop. Karlitzek is not enough to carry them on his shoulders, the more experienced Schwarz is often subbed by Fragkos, having been recruited recently, Mrdak is not super reliant either, and last night there were obvious problems in the middle, mostly the block organization, and in transition side-out. If there is something positive, there will enjoy a small break in the Bundesliga, with only a CL visit in Roeselare on schedule until the beginning of March, but they will then have a run of away games for which they better rest and prepare well.
Helios That's a very good overview of the situation! Unfortunately, it means that perhaps only some of those last-round matches will be interesting and really intense. True, Chaumont and Dinamo Moscow hold their faith n their hands, however, they both play away games. Chaumont's task seems a bit easier, but ACH plays relatively well at home. Even a 3-2 win (the same what both Zenit SP and Friedrichshafen took in Slovenia) will be enough for Chaumont, though. However, Dinamo Moscow's trip to Tours is a risky one. I am sure Tours won't just give up the match and will cause the Russians trouble. Dinamo, on the other side, have chances of advancing further even with a 3-0 defeat in France.
While i agree on your overall assessment that Düren has a decent roster this year i don't agree with your last phrase. Imho they lack a bit of balance and are overly dependant on Gevert, who is strong and powerful as always but, unfortunately for Düren, can easily run out of steam nowadays. Kocian's fast sets are not always helping either, so i do think the reason they may give matches out of hands is probably more technical than psychological. And with the top6 teams being that balanced this year, the more stable and balanced teams imho have the advantage.
But Düren still has chances to work up the ranks, for example with a win in Lüneburg on Wednesday. The Alpenvolleys on Saturday impressively showed how to do it: By simply serving Lüneburg off the court (17 aces)....
But anyway, from what i saw (set 4+5), the match against Berlin was very entertaining, including a lot of trash talking and emotions in the end. This would have been a very good tv match.
Of course, Gevert is a bit far from his best days, but still good enough for Dueren, in my opinion. Surely not (much) worse than Prolingheuer whom they had until last year. Gevert is also surprisingly Dueren's only listed opposite. I don't think, though, that he is trusted more than he should for an (only) opposite. Sauss and Lacassie are an interesting OH duo. Sauss especially is quite attack-oriented and I liked his contribution against Berlin most of the time. The Frenchman is the reception specialist, quite typically for a Frenchman, and yet he does quite well in offense. Kocian's distribution seemed fine in that single match of Dueren I watched, can't go much further. There are certainly technical aspects which Dueren need to clear, it can't be just psychological, but they had a 2-0 lead and comfortable cushion in the third set against a shaky Berlin and yet they dropped another match in a similar fashion.
After another devastating defeat, this time against Trefl Gdansk for the Champions League at home last week, Berlin finally showed some muscles and came back from a 2-set disadvantage in Dueren. They still played terribly in the first two sets and some subs were needed in order to make it work, most notably Tuia's appearance on court. But then again it was far from very convincing and on Thursday comes the next challenge - away in Frankfurt (live on Sport 1, free TV that is).
On the other side, it was the first time this season I finally had the chance to watch Dueren more closely. They have gathered a very good roster this season and yet, similarly to Berlin, they obviously underperform. If we look at their last two home games, 2-3 defeats after taking 2-0 leads against Herrsching and Berlin, respectively, we might see that their problems are also psychological and not that much technical. They are capable of playing very decent volleyball, demonstrated that also over the weekend, but the amount of defeats and lost points when they appeared to have been in charge of games is just ridiculous. Pity because they deserve a far better league position with this roster.
Funny thing, Zenit SP played their "home" game against ACH on Thursday in Moscow at Dinamo Moscow's sports center last week. On Sunday, three days later, they played in the very same hall for the championship against Dinamo away. They won both games 3-0 It seems they made a risky but successful decision to save on travel and stay (I guess they stayed, doesn't make sense otherwise) in Moscow the entire time. I have never seen anything like it.
James Shaw signed with ZAKSA as opposite.
Where did he start the season? Let's also mention the reason for the transfer - ZAKSA's back-up opposite Slawomir Jungiewicz hasn't fully recovered from his knee injury. According to ZAKSA's website, Shaw, known as a setter until now, might have switched positions permanently from now on.
What I like about the qualification process this time, unlike the notorious distribution in 2015-2016 for the Rio Games, is 1) most teams, or at least those in the top tiers of the ranking, will have 2 chances/tournaments to qualify, and 2) the intercontinental rounds, a.k.a. the first opportunity, are scheduled in August, that is the middle or towards the end of the NT season. Where teams will have had enough time to prepare well. The continental rounds in January will suck, of course, because then coaches won't be able to do much else but hope their players are in shape and somehow work it together.
It remains problematic for a team like Germany, of course, which, too, deserves 2 chances but is ranked only 27th right now. And continental championships are no longer part of the World ranking...
Neftochimik with a win for the history books against Olympiacos at home! No idea how the match developed or what exactly happened to the Greeks, only read that the home side's determination decided the outcome. Realistically, the Burgas team now has more chances of winning the Golden Set than snatching 2 sets in Greece, but then again, who would've thought they would even make it this far!
Would like to know more about the Gatsby-like party...
You mean Prandi is likely to coach the NT now?
I understand you care about the sustainability of Bulgarian volleyball. All in all, the corruption of the federation has nothing to do with the players who choose this sport out of their passion. Prandi may bring this team to a better level.
This is not true! Do you know how many players became victims of this very same federation? How many were forced to quit volleyball or haven't developed well enough because of ludicrous contracts (with clubs directly and the federation indirectly, binding them for life), inadequate but "appropriate" coaches, favorable players, or unacceptable sports conditions? It has a lot to do with the federation's business. Pity that even those in the current NT didn't support the boycott of 2012. Instead, they remained silent and some have declined NT invitations over the years in one way or another.
Prandi is officially Bulgaria's new head coach. This was made public at the start of 2019 or at the end of 2018, I don't remember. He will help the NT, of course. The same way he did back in 2008-2010 (to me, the best volleyball Bulgaria ever played). But this will be his second tenure at the NT and I wish he had the decency and self-respect not to sign with the same federation which fired him unfairly for dubious reasons and Prandi had to hear it from friends and journalists, not in person. The so-called Prandi scheme, as it remains for the archives, was used to get rid of Stoychev afterwards, too.
These are Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Russia, and China for the men. 5 international qualifiers in Europe, 1 in China. Let's see if Europe will manage to grab more Olympic berths this time.
Of course you have the first-hand information and good understanding about the actual condition in Bulgaria. As an outsider, if the volleyball federation of Bulgaria burns taxpayers' money to host an event, I'd rather it be this short, Olympic qualification tournament, instead of hosting World League or ECH. My thought is from the perspective of the importance of participating in the Olympics (media coverage and public attention apart from the result itself) and the lower cost to host a short tournament.
I don't want to go off-topic and dig much deeper, but will just write a few lines regarding my concerns. I don't mind spending some money in general for a 3-day event. The problem is THAT particular federation (notorious for a lot of things, part of the accusations were finally introduced publicly by Stoychev and Kaziyski in 2012) steals a fat portion of the money they receive for the organization (don't even get me started on the Gatsby-like party they threw at the end of 2018 after the WCH). By hosting those events, they unofficially make propaganda and strive to take credit for a number of things. Yes, Bulgaria might increase their chances of going to Tokyo this way, but to me, the 2018 WCH and the 2015 ECH held a much greater social benefit for the youth/public. Even if we qualify to the 2020 Olympics, they won't be held at home, we barely have chances to achieve something great, and overall won't ignite Bulgarians as much as actually seeing the best volleyball players live in Bulgaria. This is the problem I have from a sports perspective only. If you see the conditions many of the volleyball schools have to play in, or even some professional clubs, you would know why this is a freaking waste of money which could've been appreciated elsewhere. Most people would rather neglect the Olympics participation for a better-functioning system in the first place, as it will guarantee development and future for Bulgarian volleyball instead of a glamorous showdown before the ship sinks.
This is why I got very upset and disappointed when Silvano Prandi, the much respected man who became a victim of this very same federation, somehow agreed to be in charge of the NT again...
Let's see what FIVB will have decided by the end of the week.
January 31 is the deadline for national federations to apply for the rights to host the various Olympic qualifiers. According to the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation, Brazil declined the application. Bulgaria will try to take advantage of the situation and had prepared an application. They declared Varna and Ruse (FIVB need to choose eventually) as hosts.
My opinion towards our federation spending taxpayers' money in favour of hosting a simple event, or what is even worse - a short 4-team tournament, when conditions in the youth and junior sector are far from normal, is pretty clear and hasn't changed a bit. From a sports perspective, however, this is perhaps Bulgaria's only realisitic chance of reaching the 2020 Games - by playing in a do-or-die match vs. Brazil at home. But let's see which federation will apply and what FIVB will decide.
Is the tie-break or at least highlights of those epic few points from Lube-Monza uploaded somewhere already? Monza's YouTube channel only showed two points after 14-14. Would've liked to watch it. Seems like Monza did a Zenit Kazan. But that's just how it goes in volleyball. You know the ever-valid volleyball rule about the 2-set lead, no matter if you opponent has been weakened by a key player missing or not.
Not having a good opposite isolates your OH. Can you just imagine a top team without any good opposite around? Lube basically lost all major tournaments three seasons ago before Sokolov. That's a big example how an opposite can change everything.
Unfortunately, I will have to answer Rains once more. I will ignore the fact that you changed the discussion by mentioning opposites again and will focus on the bolded part. So what exactly was Sokolov's contribution? He turned Lube from a team that had won almost nothing to a team that... won almost nothing? That's a big example of how an opposite actually didn't change much. (Although truth be told, Sokolov was brilliant in the CL final in Kazan and I still blame Christenson for overusing the not-reliable-towards-the-end-of-sets Sander at the end of that notorious tie-break).
Trento's reception is overrated. Probably why Scarpetta hates the statisticians upgrading Grebennikov's numbers to something legendary. One thing you failed to notice is Lube's improvement and they are even a more complete team than Trentino on paper even the bench is better for Lube. Trento play without an opposite. Lube plays with Sokolov. If Lube plays like they do on paper, Trentino's going to have a harder time even with better reception on their side as Vettori's best day just can't beat Sokolov on even his normal days.
Watch the ECH 2013 semifinal in Copenhagen again and correct that sentence! You clearly overevaluate Sokolov.
Are there any known reasons why he is leaving Dinamo? Bad performances by Grankin and/or lack of money at Dinamo?
I don't know the basics, some of our Russian friends will have to share insights. From the little information I read, there might be some disciplinary reasons for the decision, which was otherwise announced as "mutual agreement". I remember Grankin had some issues with the Dinamo Moscow management, whether because of internal problems or some sports reasons I don't know, but he also switched to Belgorod as a result of the same problems perhaps last year, so this situation doesn't quite come as a shock.
It's a suprise. Berlin can not keep good foreigner players though. Their current roster is not good. Last week in CL 4th round, Berlin lost to Skra as expected. Grankin should have no problem finding a decent club in Russia or Italy. Going to Berlin looks like a downgrade.
Which brings us to his choice of moving to the German capital. I agree that he is a good enough player to sign with almost any team but this is hardly possible in the middle of the year. Bigger teams have setters and plans for the season and the only opportunity to sign with a better team is if they are in crisis. To me, the only options were Lokomotiv Novosibirsk (the team is underperforming and Konstantinov had issues with Drzyzga), Belogorie (they only rely on Poroshin and Bagrey), Berlin/Resovia (obvious crisis and some money), or Halkbank (just like that, Halkbank is always an option for some top players). I guess Russian teams were not necessarily looking for new players, maybe even Belogorie didn't get in contact with Grankin this time, so Berlin is somewhat logical and not bad an option for him. Time will show if it was a downgrade or not, but it is better for him to find motivation and even play in the Bundesliga than stay grumpy in Moscow.
There was no discussion for the CEV Cup which enters its decisive rounds, so let's fix that.
Obviously, you have all noticed that
TirolHaching played both matches against Trentino in Italy. I had tickets for the return match in Unterhaching in the middle of January. Unfortunately, due to heavy snow conditions, the small sports hall in Unterhaching was considered unsafe as the roof was covered in excessive amounts of snow. The scheduled Bundesliga home match (the weekend before, I think against Netzhoppers or Giesen) and the European encounter with Trentino had to be postponed and played elsewhere. According to CEV regulations, visitors have to have access to the match gym 24h before the match and as this was not possible either in Unterhaching or due to travel complications in Innsbruck, the match was played at PalaTrento again. Pity indeed, would've been cool to see Lorenzetti's Trentino.
Despite the numerous problems they have been facing, Neftochimik 2010 reached a historic quarterfinal. Mostly because of luck and favorable draw, to be honest, for they don't have the class this year (neither last year) to be at that round. They struggled massively against Par-Ky Menen, taking the Golden Set maybe only because it was played at home, and then knocked out Viking Bergen from Norway. This is where their European story ends as they have a mountain to climb against Olympiacos.
I just wanted to ask who of the two setters needed replacement in order to recruit Grankin but it seems Berlin need a fresh "start" in the middle of the season. If I am not mistaken, Nicolas Rossard was also recruited recently, having terminated with Szczecin, although Berlin still have Watten. It looks like some urgent investments/patches were needed in order to boost the team's title chances.
Even without the two new reinforcements, Berlin still had, in my opinion that is, the best roster in the league. I remember watching their match in Friedrichshafen earlier this campaign and things looked quite alright, despite the early league phase. With the players available, they could/should have performed/developed otherwise from then on. We talked about players underperforming but the head coach certainly plays a role here, too. He must've insisted on some of the players he brought from France/the French league, yet he seems unable to deliver with them. Enard is among the culprits for sure. Their Champions League campaign is also chaotic, having been beaten by the two Polish teams. Their next two matches at home vs. Trefl Gdansk and then away in Maaseik will grant them nothing with the display from last night. This is perhaps their lowest point since the project took a serious turn some 8-10 years ago and it is curious to see how they react. I agree with Tim that they might sacrifice the regular season position for a more composed play-offs input but with the Champions League encounters approaching and the pressure from the club management and the supporters, allegedly, I guess they will look for results immediately.
On the other side, with Berlin clearly off the match, Friedrichshafen played a typical Friedrichshafen game and, thus, the score was no surprise.
Let me start by writing about the system our Volleyball Federation introduced in Bulgaria back in 2013. There were said to be 3 levels, from 1 to 3, with 1 being the highest. How exactly these were assigned, what kind of certificates/exams/skills candidates and current coaches had to show/demonstrate, is unclear, at least not publicly. I also don't know if that system is still valid in 2019.
Jiri also meant that there is only 1 level in Poland, 6 in Italy, and 3 in the Czech Republic. Do you know more or can anyone confirm those?
I'm watching the replay of Modena vs Milano, and saw that many spectators were holding the sign of "Murato". What does it mean?
It means stuff block. That is, when an opponent's attack is blocked. The crowd celebrates it with paper "Murato" signs in Italy, the same way the FIVB promotes the "Monster block" rhythm internationally.