It would be an exaggeration to say that the entire platform at Hauptbahnhof was lit up orange on Wednesday morning. But every now and then orange caps and scarves flashed from fans who made their way to Neu-Ulm, 600 kilometers away, for the BR Volleys game against VfB Friedrichshafen that morning.
Some had taken an extra two days off, others drove back late in the evening. Because nobody wanted to miss the fourth and possibly last final game.
After the Volleys could only prevail once at home in the final “Best-of-Five” series and suffered two defeats, they were all the more dependent on the support of their fans. And although they fit perfectly into the orange hall in terms of color, they had difficulties with their fan chants against the spectators. Nevertheless, in the end there was a 3:1 victory (24:26; 26:24; 26:24; 25:20) and the volleys can still hope for the championship title.
The volleys started the match much more confidently and seemed a lot looser than in the previous games. They were supported by teammates like Matt West and Marek Sotola, who created a good atmosphere on the sidelines. But the Häfler made it difficult for them to get through with the attacks and once again proved their great strength in the block. Timothée Carle also failed at the opposing block of three, so that the volleys were 12:15 behind in the meantime.
Captain Sergej Grankin provided a brief moment of joy with a clever pass on the ball, which was even applauded by the opposing fans. The volleys then fought back and successfully fended off two set balls, but the third succeeded and so this set went to the hosts.
Hard fight for every point
The facial expressions of the players could already be read: Something is going on. And indeed, they seemed to pick up the momentum from the tight first set. This time they didn’t allow VfB to break away early, although the hosts fought for every ball and were able to win a long rally right from the start (10:8).
Thanks to a strong serve series by Samuel Tuia, who came on as a substitute, the volleys took the lead for the first time at 14:13. They gave up the lead shortly before the end, but it was still enough to win a set. Patch converted the set ball.
In the third set, the volleys were 7:11 behind early on, but didn’t let that deter them. Above all, Carle got better and better with his attacks and made a decisive contribution to the fact that the volleys were able to reduce the gap to 13:15. The volleys then fought their way bit by bit, mainly thanks to Tuia, who not only excelled in attack but also in blocking and defense.
It was also the outside attacker who brought the necessary emotions onto the field and finally managed to turn the score around. An opposing ball that went out sealed the Berlin set win.
Last game on Saturday
In the last sentence, the Häfler seemed kinked and sometimes had problems with the vote. On the other hand, the substitute Marek Sotola, who excelled in the block and attack and scored 10:8, convinced on the Berlin side.
After that, the mood was on the side of the guests: They steadily increased their lead and celebrated every point until Tuia converted the match point and was surrounded by his teammates. For the Volleys, the last game of the final series is on Saturday, then back at home in the Max-Schmeling-Halle, where they can hope for the full support of their fans. Their chants should then be heard much louder again.