The first derby of the season… was painted “red and white”!
Following last year’s finals of the championship, o Olympic prevailed fairly and with the relative comfort of the renewed PAOK with 3-0 sets (25-23, 25-17, 25-21) at “Melina Merkouri” in the Volley League premiere, thus starting the domestic competitions with a great and big win against a title contender!
In the first game of the coach, Daniel Castellani, on the edge of the bench, the “red and whites” were superior throughout the match, thus reaching the third win of the seasonafter the midweek victories over Bigelina and Partizan for the CEV Champions League qualifiers.
On the other hand, PAOK, in their first official game of the year, showed that they are still needed time to bond as a whole, due to all nine changes in his roster compared to last year. A big role for Josko Milekonski’s team that could not claim tonight’s derby was the overall 22 missed serves of the players of the “bicephalus of the north”!
THE Olympic he started the game very strong and thanks to his good block he took a 4-2 lead. By “paying” his opponent with the same coin, o PAOK ran a quick 4-1 individual score to overtake and 5-6. With Koumendakis and Zoupanis finding impressive points, the “red and whites” ran a 5-1 run for their 10-7 advantage. From that point on, the Thessalonians suffered a lot of unforced errors on their serve as they finished the set with 9 misses! Which resulted in the home team maintaining a 2-point lead until the final, with Pagenk’s nail that “broke” into PAOK’s double block forming the 25-23 of the first set.
With momentum and psychology on their side, the Reds came in with tremendous spirit and energy in the second set, wanting to “clean up” the case early on. Which they finally succeeded after Daniel Castellani’s players dominated from the start of the set, “building” large and important differences from the very first minutes.
With their good and stable defense as an ally, as well as the dynamic blocks, Olympiacos quickly took the lead with 6-3. The guest mistakes on their own serves continued in the second quarter, with Josko Milekonski unable to find a solution to the problem that was “hurting” PAOK. With Piraeus steadily maintaining a 3-4 point lead in the first half of the set, the Greek champions ran a partial score 7-2 starring Hidalgo and Travica, shooting the difference at +8 for 17-9. The “red and whites” continued to perform good volleying, even reaching +10 for 24-14, before PAOK made a “mini” reaction and reduced it to 24-17, with Olympiacos making the 2-0 set with 25-17 after Van den Dries misses a nail.
The scenery is completely different in the third set, where PAOK “awakened”, reacting in defense and attack. By Van den Dries flying…fires in attack and Van Garderen following, the visitors took the lead for the first time tonighte with +3 (6-9). With a point in the double block and with his ace Hidalgo, Olympiacos equalized at 9-9, with the Thessalonians then breaking away again in the score for 10-12. Three PAOK errors were enough for Olympiakos to level at 13-13, with Hidalgo and Pagenk making it 16-14, while shortly after, Gustavao’s improbable block sent the home side at +3 (18-15).
With Hidalgo’s second ace in the match, Olympiacos escaped to +4 (20-16), showing that they “clean up” the job. However, PAOK also reacted with 4-0 streak tied the match (20-20). Three… cheap mistakes but of the “black and white” in the final, it was enough for Olympiakos to take it set with 25-21 and together with the first win of the season!
The sets: 25-23, 25-17, 25-21.
Watch the match live here.
I am currently a news writer for News Bulletin247 where I mostly cover sports news. I have always been interested in writing and it is something I am very passionate about. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and spending time with my family and friends.