PAOK edge Turks to advance in Champions League qualifying

PAOK edge Turks to advance in Champions League qualifying


Istanbul BBSK 3 - 3* PAOK
(21 - 25)
(25 - 22)
(21 - 25)
(25 - 22)
(15 - 12)
(13 - 15)

PAOK defeated hosts Istanbul BBSK in a “golden set” to advance to the final qualifying round of the CEV Champions League.

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After a narrow 3-2 win at home in the first leg, PAOK had a tough task in front of them, needing to win three sets today in order to advance on aggregate over their Turkish opponents. Although PAOK would win the first set 21-25, they would still have plenty of work to do if they were to advance to the next round. They then found themselves ahead 14-16 in the second set, but a late surge by the Turks would see them edge PAOK 25-22 and take the set.

The Greeks would respond by taking the third set 21-25, and suddenly found themselves just one set away from advancing. In the fourth set, PAOK went up 5-8 and seemed to be just minutes away from the win. However, the Turks would come back to take the set 25-22 and force a decisive fifth set.

At that point, the Turks needed to win it to force a golden set to decide who advances to the next round. A PAOK win in the fifth set would see them advance 6-4 on aggregate, therefore a golden set would not be required.

PAOK never looked like winning the fifth set, as the Turks dominated from the get-go. The hosts went up 8-3 and ultimately closed it out 15-12 to force a golden set.

In the crucial golden set, PAOK went up 2-5 and saw themselves just ten points away from advancing. A Turkish comeback saw them level the set at 6-6. Nevertheless, PAOK would win 13-15 in the end to advance.

PAOK will now face Germany’s UV Frankfurt in the final qualifying round. The first leg will be played in Thessaloniki on November 6 or 7, while the second leg in Germany will take place the following week. The winner will advance to the group stages of the CEV Champions League. It should be noted that PAOK took part in the group stages last season, finishing third out of four teams with a 2-4 overall record.


by Andrew Stamas

Image Source: sdna.gr

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