VELENJE – Velenje was the centre of attention for volleyball fans in Slovenia past weekend as the city in Šaleška valley hosted the Slovenian cup finals for the first time.
Nova KBM Branik and ACH Volley Ljubljana emerged victorious in their clashes for the first trophy of the season in front of more than 1,300 spectators in the sold-out Red Hall.
In the opening match of the finals in the defending champions Calcit Volley, couldn’t manage to seal a five-setter in their favor, leaving Nova KBM Branik to claim a record 19th trophy in the 31st edition of the event. Team from Maribor lead by Lorena Lorber Fijok and Iza Mlakar dominated the match in first two sets. Still, reigning Slovenian national champions from Kamnik with Andjelka Radiškovi? and Neneh Sillah who scored most of the points bounced back and levelled the result. The tiebreak in which both teams were showing great desire for the final victory decided the winners, but Nova KBM Branik came out as winners.
“Everything was in our hands already in the third set, but we couldn’t keep our focus and we let the opponents improve their performance. Fortunately, we found our way back and showed that we are a team that sticks together when things get hard. I am proud of my teammates, and we are all delighted that we are bringing the trophy back home. I want to thank our fans for their support and to the organizers for delivering this great event. It was nice to play here in Velenje,” commented Lorena Lorber Fijok who received the Most Valuable Player award.
In the men’s competition, ACH Volley Ljubljana remains unbeaten in the competitions on home soil this season. The team coached by Radovan Ga?i? edged their eternal rivals Calcit Volley in the finals on Saturday and claimed a 3-2 victory to celebrate their 14th title. In an interesting matchup, Calcit Volley prevailed in the first set despite the injury of their captain Jan Klobu?ar. But the team of Ljubljana led by captain Nikola Gjorgiev who was later awarded the MVP of the finals, and Danijel Koncilja were not about to give in as they managed to strike back in the next two sets. The highly motivated team from Kamnik took the tight fourth set after great defending by Alan Košenina and attacking and blocking by Luis Tomas Sosa Sierra and Daniel Aponza Catabali. In the second tiebreaker of the evening, ACH Volley Ljubljana took the glory.
Longtime member of the team from Ljubljana, Matic Vide?nik was happy about the new cup laurels:
“The result already shows that we were witnessing a very good performance. We entered the match way too nervously. The desire to win this cup title was very strong on both sides. Both teams played at a high level, and the fans could enjoy great volleyball. It really was a good game and luckily we were the ones celebrating at the end”.
The Slovenian Volleyball Federation with the huge support of local authorities, the Velenje Sports Association, Red Hall Sports and Recreation Institute, and the Municipality of Velenje used this exciting event to further promote Volleyball in the Šaleška Valley and especially in Velenje.