A good trip before the World Cup in Antalya, which begins in seven days, with three relatively easy points to open the adventure in the Champions League, was what the Antonio Carraro Imoco panthers needed to immediately raise their heads after the defeat against Scandicci. Managing strength and aches and pains is the number one goal in the Gialloblù house, in view of the championship debut against Dentil Praia and the subsequent clash with the landlords of Eczacibasi, who yesterday (3-0 against Targoviste) left most of the owners on the bench. In this first week of training only, Conegliano will have to close ranks, still not being able to count on Fahr and with Lubian recovering from a shoulder injury.
Santarelli recovers Plummer and Haak, feverish a few days ago, but leaves De Gennaro to rest due to a problem in his knee. Pericati takes the field, together with Wolosz, Cook, De Kruijf and Squarcini.
The start is one of the best, with Plummer and Squarcini’s serve putting the Hungarian second line in difficulty. Three points from Haak also enter the initial 6-1, one with a block, which galvanizes the small crowd present. The thirty Magyar fans never stop singing and beating on the drums, who had already maintained relationships of twinning and brotherhood with the Gialloblù supporters outside the Palaverde.
The technical difference between the two formations emerges more and more evident, with De Kruijf and Cook easily anticipating the opponent’s block. At 13-4 the visiting bench already spends its second timeout, as the Magyar champions have not yet managed to score a point with their own strength. The superiority of the panthers reaches double figures (16-6) thanks to the aggressive approach right from the reception and with good attention on the block.
The only jolts come on three aces suffered by Plummer and five overall errors in service, which make coach Santarelli turn up his nose. The set ends with an ace from De Kruijf.
Conegliano still concedes too much even when the game restarts (8-7), while the guests’ game becomes more aggressive and free from awe. A blaze from Haak who signs four attacks in a row shifts the balance again in favor of the European runners-up (15-11).
There is also room for Gray who takes over Plummer, who is not yet at his best after the flu attack of recent days. De Kruijf, with yet another fast and another millimeter ace, increases the gap up to 19-12. Furlan also enters, making his debut in the Champions League, and the Antonio Carraro Imoco closes smoothly, while Budapest is stuck on 19% both in reception and in attack.
The panthers, even without shining, didn’t slow down and controlled the score even in the third set, the only one in which, for a few exchanges, Budapest tasted the taste of being ahead. Santarelli changes almost nothing, also due to the lack of viable alternatives on the bench, and gives space to Carraro in directing in the last few exchanges. The memories of three years ago when Budapest brought Conegliano, back from the Super Cup, to the tiebreak are far away. On Monday the team leaves for Antalya, where from Thursday it will try again the assault on the World Cup.