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09-05-2014

WORLD CLUBS CHAMP: UPCN ONCE MORE AT SEMI-FINALS

Belo Horizonte, Brazil, May 9, 2014 - In a very exciting showed of their utmost performance, UPCN San juan Voley obtained an historical victory overcoming Qatar's Al-Rayyan 3-2 at the closing date of the preliminary round of the FIVB Men's World Clubs Championship and obtaining one of the four semi-final places. The top scorer of the match was the Cuban Maikl Sanchez with 21 points while for the winners, Martin Ramos scored 17.

With this victory, San Juan finished on the second runner-up place in Pool B leaving Trentino (with whom they faced each other on Wednesday night with the victory of the European strong team on a tie-breaker). This Friday at 17.50 local time, UPCN will face Belgorie Belgorod from Russia, first on its pool, looking forward for a place at the Grand Final match. The other semi-final will be played by the local Sada Cruzeiro v A-Rayyan.

Second consecutive participation of UPCN in this competition and second semi-final chance. Last year it was easier but this time two terrific tie-breakers (v Trentino and Al-Rayyan). V Al-Rayyan was harder as it obtained the victory over a team that gathered many international stars only to participate of this competition, rising up a polemic questioning supported by their millions of dollars. But San Juan team showed its best clawns (four consecutive Argentine League titles), talent and attitude to come as winner over Kaziyski, Simon, Sanchez, Raphael and Alan and they did this after recovering of the shock that meant losing with Trentino after the match stood 2-2 when it started with an unquestionable 2-0 for the Argentine team.

In desperate need of a victory, UPCN opened the match very focused, jumping to 8-4 with an ace from Theo and a block of fellow Brazilian Junior on Simón. The Cuban had his rematch and blocked at 9-8, but UPCN stayed ahead to 13-9 again with Theo and enjoying good serves from Demián González. Junior blocked again, this time over Michael Sánchez, at 16-12, and the opposite crashed the ball into the net a while later (20-14). Theo contributed more at the end until hitting the 25-19.

Argentinean four-time champion also secured the lead in the second set, in this case by 8-6 after two attacking mistakes of Al-Rayyan. However, Simón fired a sharp ace down the sideline to level the scores at 10 and the match entered a point-by-point basis. UPCN broke the tie with Bogdan Olteanu hammering some serves and regained the lead to 16-13, allowing his team to be in front until the very end, despite another awesome ace from Simón at 19-17. Al-Rayyan achieved another tie at 20-20, but after that failed three times in a row (24-20) and Junior blocked for the 25-20.

Al-Rayyan came back for the third set: after another two serve points from Simón (4-2), Kaziyski made a great defensive effort and his side earned an 8-5 advantage. UPCN showed some problems in reception and the Asian team advanced first to 14-9 and then to 18-13, using more errors from the South Americans. Simón unleashed another ace and Al-Rayyan made it look very simple at the end, with Sánchez scoring the 25-17.

All the energy seemed to be in Al-Rayyan for the fourth set, as UPCN had no reflexes at some easy balls, and the team from Qatar also kept a good serving towards an 8-3 score. A single block from Raphael Vieira widened the gap to 12-6 and Simón, who proved once more to be vital, smashed the ball at 16-9. Sánchez also blocked superbly (19-10) and, even though UPCN enjoyed a good breath of fresh air with youngster Nicolás Lazo (23-17), the set finally went for Al-Rayyan at 25-18, after a nice kill from Kaziyski.

At their last chance, UPCN reacted. The Argentinean side took a 6-3 lead with wing spiker Filardi and then used the center of the net to change sides by 8-6. However, Al-Rayyan managed to tie at 9-9 and the end of the game was thrilling. Kaziyski came out with an ace to put his team in front (11-10), but Olteanu answered and UPCN bounced back to 12-11. Then, a wrong ball by Simón and a block of Junior over him placed UPCN at range (14-11). The Cuban tried again, but his spike went wide and UPCN celebrated by 15-11.

The result placed UPCN in the second place of Pool B, while Al-Rayyan topped the group thanks to the point earned. Trentino was left out of the tournament, no matter what result get against Esperance Tunis.



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