Zadar, Croatia. The final matches of the Snježana Ušic Cup and Croatian Cup for women’s and men’s teams respectively took place this past September 12 at the iconic Krešimir Cosic sports hall in Zadar, with a double triumph for Mladost ZAGREB, whose players defended last year’s titles. Due to the strong measures in place to prevent any spread of the novel coronavirus, no spectators could follow the matches from the stands.
The women’s team of Mladost beat OK Kaštela 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-13), while the men needed as many as five sets to edge Mursa-Osijek 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-22, 15-12).
“I must congratulate our girls who played phenomenally, both in the semi-final and the final. Praise goes also to the club officials, who made it possible for us to train in these tough conditions. I can only hope that the situation with coronavirus will improve soon and that we will play even better in the domestic league,” said Mladost head coach, Leo Baric. Katarina Pavicic, MVP of the Snježana Ušic Cup, pointed out: “The match was under our control all the time, as the result of our hard training in these last two months. Despite the empty stands, the atmosphere was great. We are happy with this win, and cannot wait for the new challenges both in Europe and in the domestic league.”
Zoran Grgantov, head coach of Kaštela, was humble after the defeat: “First, I would like to congratulate the Mladost team, who deservedly won. We tried to win some easy points with an aggressive style and slowing their game, but we failed. On the other hand, they have a little taller, stronger and more explosive team, so we failed to block them. Our service, block and defence were of insufficient quality to match Mladost at this level.”
“I think we deserved to win, but I must congratulate the Osijek team on their excellent resistance. We expected a tough battle, they gathered a respectable team, and brought back many of their key players – so I can say, quite expectedly it was a difficult match. We are still getting to know each other, but we managed to end the game in our favour with a combination of muscles and experience, so to speak.” said Mladost player and MVP of the Croatian Cup, Ivan Zeljkovic.
“It was an intense match, at critical moments where we needed to turn the match around and win, we made some mistakes. In the end, they deservedly claimed the fifth set. I think we have a chance to compete equally in the domestic league and cup, we will work hard and continue to fight for every point,” concluded the Osijek’s star player, Ivan Matokovic.
Both Mladost teams are due to make their debut in the CEV Champions League Volley next week, with the men hosting Erzeni SHIJAKUT of Albania and Fino KAPOSVAR VC of Hungary in the first of two round robin tournaments and the women taking on Calcit Volley KAMNIK of Slovenia in a single match.
Photo Credit: Nenad Opacic