Photo: Ladislav Nepožitek / with consent
On Saturday, Příbram played at home for the rematch of the preliminary play-off round against Brno. Even the support of the home crowd and changes in the lineup could not wake the players from the lethargy of the last few games. The key factor was once again the service, with which the guests clearly surpassed Příbram. Brno won 3:0 and advances to the playoff quarterfinals. VK Euro Sitex Příbram ends the season in 9th place and many question marks hang in the air.
After Wednesday’s beating in Brno and Peterka’s dismal performance on the receiving end, coach Brom decided to put Peterka on the bench for the first time in the season and send Filip Ureš as libero somewhat unexpectedly. It is a question whether it would not have been more appropriate to take Šimon Bambas from the juniors rather than depriving the Cats of their only attacking alternative for substitution by choosing Ureš.
As many times this season, Příbram started solidly. When Hulpach blocked Hrazdira and the home team led 15:13, everything was on the right track. But then the stout Hrazdira came to serve and it was bad again. With an unpleasant serve, Příbram pulled away from the net, and its sweepers were unable to put the ball away from difficult passes. Brno took a 15:18 lead, which it never relinquished. The Cats continued to struggle on the receiving end and in the attack, and bought error after error. The guests were in full control of the game and won the first set with a ratio of 19:25.
The second set was probably Příbram’s best performance in this series. Although Brno continued to be more dominant, it spoiled the service too much. There were several nice exchanges, both teams sometimes helped each other with a winning block. With the score 15:14 for the home team, there was again a minor game crisis, but this time it was solved by one time-out and the home team kept pace with Brno this time until the final. An unpleasant moment for the Cats occurred at 19:20, when after Hulpach’s handball smash, Kovalchuk apparently ran in the field. However, the referees overlooked it and awarded a point to Brno. There were massive protests from the home side, but the head judge did not change his verdict. The guests thus took a two-point lead, which was enough for them in the end. Hulpach and Duarte still tried to push for submission, but they messed up. Brno won the final 25:22 and was only one set away from advancing to the quarterfinals.
Entering the third set, Příbram did not succeed at all and lost 1:6 quite quickly. Disillusionment and helplessness could be seen on the home players, while Brno enjoyed the course of the match and showed better volleyball. However, the visitors’ smashers too often resorted to relief instead of smashing, and the Cats started to catch up inconspicuously. After a point block by Böhm, the situation was leveled for the first time (18:18). The home crowd sensed that the match could become more dramatic after all and pushed their players to attack. After a great service by the home scorer Pereira, Příbram even took the lead 19:18 and the guests reached for the timeout. At 20:20, the end promised a balanced spectacle. But even this time, the Cats could not avoid their own mistakes. They came somewhat unexpectedly from the hands of Trojanowicz, who more than once could not bear the weight of the moment and threw a relatively easy shot through the middle of the net into the car. Brno managed to win the match in three sets and advances to the playoff quarterfinals. For Příbram, this year’s extra-league season ended in ninth place.
Photo: Ladislav Nepožitek / with consent
After the match, captain Martin Böhm, who worked in the extraleague for a respectable 18 years, said goodbye to his extraleague career. After 25 long years, the chairman of the club Míra Peterka, who became deputy mayor last year and due to a possible conflict of interests, decided to end his work at the club, stating that he will only continue to commentate on the matches. The future direction of the club is quite unclear at the moment, because Martin Böhm ultimately refused to take over the position of club president, contrary to original expectations. In addition, the vast majority of players are out of contract or simply leaving elsewhere. The future and setup of the club will be intensively discussed in the coming weeks. We will of course inform you about everything important.