Hirsch, Haching Sweep Teruel
Generali Sport Arena, Unterhaching – Generali Haching may not sport a team full of stars anymore, they may not even be a team in the top league in Germany after this season, but for one night, they served up a huge win for their fans.
Simon Hirsch scored 16 points and Sebastian Schwarz added 29 assists as Haching swept past CAI Voleibol Teruel 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-23) to win the first leg of their CEV Cup 2014 matchup.
The sweep does not indicate how close each set was, as key points by Hirsch and his teammates made the difference. The first set started with 11 ties until 16-16. Haching got two points quickly after the second technical timeout that forced the Spanish club to call a timeout to regroup. But then an ace and a key block made it 20-16 requiring Teruel to call another timeout. Haching were able to hold off to win the first set 25-22.
Teruel came out in the second set looking to even the match and led 9-4, but Haching chipped away with a 7-2 run to tie it at 11-11. And by the second technical timeout, they led 16-14. Teruel didn’t falter but key kills by Hirsch to make it 19-16 and 20-17 kept the visitors at bay. Ewoud Gommans’ kill to make it 23-20 was the key in the 25-21 win in the second.
The third set started the same as the second, Teruel taking an early 8-4 lead thanks to Haching errors. But Haching’s block led by both Konstantin Shumov (14 blocks total) along with Hirsch and Gommans (11 blocks each) sparked a 12-4 run to turn it around. The close play continued, neither team pulling away. Teruel made one last ditched effort to tie it at 21-21. The tug-of-war continued to 23 a piece. As it was throughout the match, Haching scored the final two key points to win 25-23 and earn the sweep.
“We kept fighting till the end of the sets, and it was a great team performance by us,” said Hirsch. “At the end we got the deciding points.”
“The difference in the end was determination,” added team general manager Frank Kahlmann. “We were determined to win this match and give the crowd a good show.”
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Despite holding leads and getting 19 points and 12 blocks from Barcala Juan Carlos, Teruel were not able to hold on and allowed key points by their hosts and just made too many mistakes.
“Small details during the last two sets (were the difference),” said Teruel head coach Oscar Novillo. “We were up in the score and we didn’t know how to stay there. It’s difficult against a team like this one, and we made mistakes against them in the pressure moment. We didn’t play as well as we can.”
The way Haching played, with really nothing to lose, any team coming in was not going to beat the raw emotion coming from the players. Haching’s main sponsor, Generali, announced before the season that they will no longer support the club, something they have done since 2007. Rumors started last year and created a cloud of uncertainty that hung over the team.
The club is searching for a new sponsor but as of right now, no angel has shown up to save the day. Without the deep pockets of a main sponsor, the club will not be able to pay their license to play in Germany’s top flight and will be relegated to the fourth division. Going into this year, the national players that took Haching to the German Bundesliga finals and cup wins did not return.
The 21-year-old Hirsch came to Haching two seasons ago and spent time on the bench behind those experienced players who were part of the team that won the domestic cup three consecutive years. Hirsch did shine in his limited playing time against weaker opponents but was not able to break the starting lineup. This year, with the purge of stars from last year due to their financial future, the young German has stepped up and delivered.
“I’m very satisfied (with my development), it’s great to get the chance from the coach,” smiled Hirsch. But he did not forget his teammates. “We are young team that gets along together, we have fun at practice and in the matches.”
One would think the players would bow down to the stresses of a dark future ahead. Along with the win in the first leg of the CEV Cup (the second tier of European competition), the club sits in second place in the German Volleyball Bundesliga.
“We’ve known the situation for months now, the players have adapted to that now,” said Kahlmann. “Soon after that, they started having practice sessions that we had before without what is hanging over us. The atmosphere is really great, this was missing the last years, and we definitely didn’t have it last season. That’s makes all the difference and you saw it on the court tonight.”
Generali Haching played their last home match in 2013 and there’s hope in the season of clichéd miracles, the club’s General Manager Josef Köck is holding out for one.
“We’ll see if the Christkind can bring something to us.”