It all started so well. The first set was like a dream. Really. Apart from a 2:1 in the beginning we were leading for the whole time. We washed up the floor of the sports hall with them. Boris Buša had an superhuman performance. He blocked, hit an ace, served, crawled on the floor if that was needed, carried the team on his back, meanwhile the other side earned a point only when we had a service foul. The difference was never too big, only 2-3 points, but that was enough. At the end the standing was 20:23, Zvezda asked for time-out. You could hear through the stream Zvezda’s coach screaming slowly and articulate into their faces "Koncentracija!!! Kon-cent-ra-ci-ja!!!" After tha we won the set to 20:25.
The second set wasn’t funny at all. We made all the possible mistakes, Zvezda took advantage of them. As if the roles of the first set would have been switched.
By the way, does anyone know what was going on with Kostić? He was playing so indisposed.
At first we equalized here and there (6:6, 8:8), sometimes we even took the lead for moments, then it was gone after 9:10. Zvezda equalized, then took the lead and didn’t let it out of their hands. The difference wasn’t big this time either, maybe 2 points. It increased only around the end, sometimes to 5 points (24:19) - this part was especially tough. Zvezda was about to get the set ball, when Lopar scored with a troll smash (24:20). We earned one more point (24:21), but it was in vain. Zvezda won the set to 25:21 and equalized.
In the third set the time has come for the referee. He had his first questionable judgement at 5:3. The ball dropped to the floor, out of Partizan’s area. The referee said someone from us had touched it before it dropped out. I will be honest: RTS 2’s slow motion replay didn’t show anyone from us touching the ball. Okay, if you watch it from a certain angle, twinkling heavily, you may see a fingertip touching the ball.
Well, the referee surely twinkled heavily. 6:3
At 7:5 came another upheaval, but this time Zvezda complained for some similar problem. Instead of 8:5 the standing was 7:6. A home player was disputing with the referee, meanwhile players started a (verbal) fight from the two sides of the net.
Finally Kostić got a yellow card, nobody knows why.
We continued the game. We didn’t let Zvezda go, at a period we took the lead again (13:15). They took it back (17:16), but we were always behind them with only 1 point. They could increase the difference only at the end (23:20), but even here Veličković did his best to reduce it (24:22). Finally Zvezda won to 25:22.
The start of the fourth set was fantastic. We made it to 3:6. Zvezda slowly reduced it to 8:9, with the help of the referee. (You know... every time when it was critical, someone from Partizan happened to touch the ball every time when it dropped out of our area. Every time. Every single time.) We still kept ourselves (9:10), but the referee didn’t let it go at that. He continuously judged against us, so Zvezda could take back the lead (12:11). Kostić complained, even though he already had a yellow card, but the referee, didn’t even listen.
We kept ourselves until 15:15, then something happened to us. We made mistake after mistake, Zvezda made a 7-point series (22:15). At this point we could gain one more score (22:16), but that was all. It ended with 25:16, Zvezda won the game to 3:1. Next round comes on Saturday from 18:00 and it won’t stop until 3 victories.
Crvena Zvezda: Okolić (5), Jevtić (libero), Đurđević, Skrbić, Gmitrović, Milutinović (3), Jakovljević (20), Stojsavljević (8), Munćan (7), Blagojević (14), Veljović, Buculjević (7)
Head coach: Dragan Kobiljski
OK Partizan: Buša (16), Pantić (14), Nedeljković, Žugić, Lopar (10), Kostić (2), Rajković (libero), Jokanović, Veličković (7), Polomac (8), Popović (2), Perišić
Head coach: Vladimir Vasović
(photos: screenshot/RTS 2)