This past weekend Berlin played host to the Champion’s League Final Four.
This was the first time the Final Four was hosted in Germany, and obviously a massive first for BRV. Berlin qualified for playoffs after finishing second in our group behind Asseco Resovia Rzeszow. Once the CEV chose Berlin to host, we automatically advanced to the final four, and let the other teams battle it out for the other three spots.
After what seemed like ages, we learned that two Polish teams, PGE Skra Belchatow, Asseco Resovia Rzeszow, and one Russian team, Zenit Kazan, would join us at the Final Four. Berlin entered the Final Four as a major underdog. It’s unsurprising to see Polish and Russian teams in the final four. But German? BRV had some serious pressure to measure up.
The club really put on a fantastic show all around. Max Schmeling Halle was jam packed with 9,300 screaming fans. Everything ran smoothly and professionally apart from an appallingly poor Freddie Mercury impersonator who turned up during the medal ceremony.
Special props to the Polish fans. They are the real deal. Jumping and chanting the entire time, they kept the atmosphere pumping.
We matched up with Zenit Kazan in the Semifinals. Their team is ridiculously stacked. Guys that start on the Russian national team spend time on the bench on Kazan. Plus, they’ve got Cuban wunderkind, Wilfredo Leon.
He’s really extraordinary.
The second semifinal saw the two Polish teams clash. Resovia, our old friends from group play, laid the smack down on Belchatow advancing to the final with a 3-0 victory.
On Sunday, we faced down Belchatow in the third place match. Again, this is a stacked team full of stand outs from the Argentinian and Polish national teams.
It was easily the most exciting match I’ve ever seen in person. All of us wives were screaming and jumping like madwomen. My heart was in my throat, and I felt like my internal organs were liquifying. It was a five set thriller in the fullest sense of the phrase. Eventually, Berlin bested Belchatow 23-21 in that tie breaker set (normally played to 15 points), and the whole arena went buckwild.
Someone posted this instagram vid of the match point.
If you have any desire at all, I highly recommend hopping over to http://www.laola1.tv. Find the match, and watch that fifth set…or at least some highlights.
This was truly a team victory. Every player performed exceptionally, especially guys coming off the bench to raise us up. Of course, I’m particularly proud of PC who was the best spiker and server in the match, but more importantly, played with heart and determination the whole weekend.
In case you were wondering how the final turned out, Zenit Kazan cruised to a 3-0 victory against Resovia to claim the gold medal. Dang Ruskies.
Bronze never felt so good. As a friend put it, silver is the first loser and bronze is the second winner! Our team exceeded everyone’s expectations, earning their bronze medal and respect in the volleyball world. I still have goosebumps. Well done BRV.