CEV Challenge Cup semi-finalists ACH Volley LJUBLJANA claimed their 12th men’s MEVZA League crown on Sunday night. The defending champions from Slovenia celebrated a 3-1 (25-14, 20-25, 25-22, 25-14) win over HAOK Mladost ZAGREB in the gold medal match that capped the Final Four tournament held at the JUFA Arena in Bleiburg.
ACH Volley LJUBLJANA went as the clear-cut favourites into the highly anticipated clash with the Croatian reigning national champions, but the underdogs were able to fully challenge the ‘Orange Dragons’ at least in the second and third sets. A particularly outstanding achievement is that ACH Volley did not suffer a single loss in the 18 MEVZA League matches they contested this season.
ACH Volley’s Nikola Gjorgiev topped the charts of the best scorers on 23 points, while his teammates Jan Pokeršnik and Nemanja Mašulovic scored 11 times apiece. Boris Buša (14) and Ivan Zeljkovic (11) were the most prolific players for Mladost. The match stats: attack 55% vs 41%, aces 8 vs 5, winning blocks 9 vs 6, reception 46% vs 28% and opponent errors 32 vs 24.
Mladen Kasic, head coach ACH Volley LJUBLJANA: “We are very satisfied with the result, even though the match was not on the level we wanted. We have to keep in mind that this was the 42nd match of the season, the fifth in a week. So congratulations to my players on their performance.”
After losing to ACH Volley in the semi-finals, hosts SK Zadruga AICH/DOB secured the bronze medal, defeating Slovenia’s reigning national champions and CEV Champions League participants OK Merkur MARIBOR in straight sets (25-21, 25-21, 31-29) earlier in the evening. Therefore, the team of newly appointed head coach Bogdan Tanase took the chance to secure its fifth MEVZA League podium. In 2019, AICH/DOB could even clinch the title.
Marino Marelic (15) and Xander Ketrzynski (12) top scored for the winning side, with Ahmed Ikhbayri (21) and Roland Gergye (10) achieving this same feat for MARIBOR. The match stats: attack 46% vs 44%, aces 2 vs 3, winning blocks 13 vs 7, reception 34% vs 46% and opponent errors 23 vs 18.
Aich/Dob sports director Martin Micheu: “That was an incredible performance by our players. To beat the Slovenian champions is really something to be proud of; our team has a lot of quality, we just have to become more consistent. If we can do so, we will also be able to bring the Austrian Volley League title back to Bleiburg later this season.”
The women’s competition will reach its climax next Wednesday and Thursday. Besides regular season winners OK Calcit KAMNIK, hosts VB NÖ Sokol/Post SCHWECHAT and Vasas Óbuda BUDAPEST, Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR have qualified for the Final Four tournament. Before the final stage of the 2021-2022 edition takes place at the Posthalle Vienna, the main phase ended this weekend in Maribor with two match-ups between Sokol/Post and bottom-of-the-table OK Marina KASTELA. The team from Austria emerged victorious in three sets from both fixtures, respectively – on Saturday evening with 25-12, 28-26, 25-14 and on Sunday afternoon with 25-13, 25-22, 25-14.
Men’s MEVZA League, Final Four in Bleiburg
Women’s MEVZA League, regular season
24.02., 10:30: bronze medal match
24.02., 13:00: gold medal match