Fakel complete full comeback to settle semifinal tickets


Ivan Iakovlev of Fakel Novy Urengoy tries to stop Jakub Kochanowski of PGE Skra Belchatow, as the Russian side advances to the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Men's Club World Championship in Poland.

Plock, Poland, November 27, 2018 - Fakel Novy Urengoy of Russia denied hosts PGE Skra Belchatow a match point to finish the game in three and completed a full comeback from two sets down for a 3-2 (23-25, 27-29, 30-28, 21-19) win that decided both tickets from Pool A to the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship.

The result means that Italy's Cucine Lube Civitanova (who earlier in the day had knocked out defending champions Zenit Kazan of Russia) join Fakel in advancing from the Plock pool to the weekend's semifinals in Czestochowa with a game to spare.

Artur Szalpuk of PGE Skra Belchatow and Igor Kolodinsky of Fakel Novy Urengoy in a duel on the net, Tuesday night in Plock.

It was actually only after the first set that fans were provided with any considerable drama, as Skra came from behind to first reach set point at 24-22, before Fakel cancelled both and then blew one of their own. In the end it was back-to-back errors from the Russian side, including a long attack by Egor Kliuka that clinched it for Skra.

Fakel came back from six points in the third at 12-18 to bring the score level at 23-23. Skra blew their one and only chance to take the match in three when they saw their match point at 24-23 cancelled, before Fakel put it to bed after five attempts of their own with a swing by Kliuka.

Milad Ebadipour was best scorer of PGE Skra Belchatow but it was just not quite enough to keep the hosts alive in the 2018 FIVB Men's Club World Championship.

And in the fifth Skra broke away to lead by four at court switch, though Fakel gradually closed in. The Poles once again had a chance to take the game and break the pool wide open, but they blew both their match points. It was Fakel who got it right on their fifth try, again with a Kliuka spike that sent his side into wild jubilation.

Kliuka was by far top scorer of the game with 28 points, with Dmitry Volkov adding another 20 for Fakel who overcame the 11 aces conceded with their efficient attacking. The 22 points of Iran international Milad Ebadipour for Skra fell just short of giving the home side the win.

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