Vero Volley MONZA won the first match of the CEV Cup 16th final against Mladost Zagreb, however Zagreb resisted very well and had chances for even more. In the CEV Challenge Cup, the other Croatian team MOK Mursa Osijek faced PAOK and had to accept a loss against a high-flying and confident team from Greece.
Italy’s standout Vero Volley MONZA claimed a 3-1 away victory (25-16, 18-25, 26-24, 25-22) over Mladost ZAGREB – with the home side supported for the very first time after a long break by a large crowd of 1,500 fans. It was a special match for Tomislav Mitrašinovic – a former player of Mladost, who joined the ranks of MONZA for the 2021-2022 season, thus following the example of another former member of Mladost, Marko Sedlacek.
“Our goal today was to play at our best level, since we knew that MONZA are the big favourites and they compete in probably the strongest league in the world. With the only exception of the first set, I think we achieved our goal and we even had the chance to win more than one set. We made a few tactical mistakes at the end of the third set – but I think it was a good experience for everyone and we could see that we can play at a good level. It means that we are on the right track.”Radovan Gacic
Head coach of Mladost ZAGREB
Tihomir Gajic, player of Mladost: “We played a good game. Congratulations to MONZA. I think we delivered our best performance this season and I am proud of my team.”
Tomislav Mitrašinovic, player of Vero Volley MONZA: “The game was very tough and we can say that we did expect this. We expected that we would win – and we did it, so we are satisfied. We hope that we can play even better at home.”
Massimo Eccheli, head coach of Vero Volley MONZA: “It was a very difficult match with us, after a long and tiring journey. We have had a very busy schedule lately without any real break. We are happy that we could win this match even though we did not show our best game.”
Elsewhere, PAOK THESSALONIKI hosted Croatia’s MOK Mursa OSIJEK, with the home side pocketing a comprehensive 3-0 victory. In the first set, PAOK was ahead throughout and closed it at 25-20, with the second set following the same development and ending in a 25-18 score for the hosts. In the third set, MOK Mursa OSIJEK mounted a comeback, leading for most of the set. Shortly before the end, however, PAOK took control again, thus celebrating a 3-0 victory (25-20, 25-18, 25-23).
Ioannis Kalmazidis, Head coach of PAOK THESSALONIKI: “The game went as we expected and the performance of the opposing team was to the anticipated levels, as we saw in the videos. It is always difficult when you have not seen a team up close to calculate how fast they play or how strong the spikes are. We did our analysis correctly and we understood how the opposing team plays and we adjusted accordingly. Therefore, we managed to get the victory. There was a difference in the level of the two teams and it showed!”
?rett Walsh, setter of PAOK: “We are extremely happy for the victory and the win’s three points that we took today in the game with the Croatian team. We do believe that we are able to beat them in the second game too and make it among the best 16 of the CEV Challenge Cup.”