As the defending champion Sir Sicoma Perugia gears up to take on the debutant Halkbank Spor Kulubu from Turkey in the first semifinal of the FIVB Men’s Volleyball Club World Championships here on Saturday, their contrasting performances in the pool stage come to the fore.
Sicoma had some resistance in the last two sets in its opener against Brazil’s Itambe Minas, which ensured it had to prove its ability to win in straight sets. On the other hand, the Turkish side fought hard for the first two sets against fellow debutants Suntory Sunbirds of Japan but could not win.
Canadian outside hitter John Gordon Perrin, who plays for Halkbank, was the top scorer with 11 points for the team in that game. He felt that travel and change in surroundings might have resulted in their play. “Before the first game, we had travelled a lot, were in a new country, trained in a new gym and different things. We had excuses about everything and forgot to play the game,” said the 34-year-old.
Halkbank had to defeat the four-time winner Sada Cruzeiro Volei of Brazil either 3-0 or 3-1 for a spot in the semifinal. The Turkish side prevailed 3-0 and finished second in Pool B.
After the win, Perrin was proud of his team’s effort. “We knew after the first disappointing game we had to play a perfect game. We did it and now are through to the semifinal,” he said.
The Italian side, Sicoma, had to face the crowd favourite Ahmedabad Defenders in the final Pool A match. In a lopsided affair, the defending champions triumphed 3-0.
Tim Held, an Italian opposite hitter, whose 54.55% efficiency was the highest in the match, was glad that his team played well despite the opposition’s high standard. “It was important to get into a rhythm to help my team today. They(Defenders) are a good team. We played a good match, and the difficulty level was high,” said the 25-year-old.
On the defending champion’s chances of making it two out of two, Held said: “Yes. There is always hope, and we will try our best. The best team will win.”
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