SPORTS

PAOK upsets Olympiakos to win volleyball league title

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Volleyball

PAOK upset the odds and won the Greek volleyball league for the third year in a row as it triumphed 3-1 on Sunday at Olympiakos to win the final series by 3-2 wins.

Olympiakos finished the regular season with a nine-point lead over runner-up PAOK, and had only one defeat in 22 games. It also lifted the Greek Cup and the League Cup.

The failure of PAOK to win the Greek Cup cost the job to the man who had led the Thessaloniki club to the league crown in 2015 and 2016, Yiannis Kalmazidis. PAOK brought in Argentine coach Jorge Elgueta, with the team apparently upset and confused with the developments.

However when the best-of-five finals came along, and after the first couple of games, when both Olympiakos and PAOK won 3-0 at home to tie the series at 1-1, the Reds underperformed at home in Game 3 and PAOK won 3-2 on May 1 to take a 2-1 lead home for a Game 4 that could give it the title.

In another twist of the series, PAOK appeared to crack under the pressure of the occasion on May 4 as well as having its best player to date, Sasa Starovic come off injured. As a result Olympiakos won 3-0 away to tie the series again at 2-2.

The court at Rentis was filled to capacity by Olympiakos fans ready to celebrate their team’s return to the Greek throne on Sunday, but their players once again were second best to PAOK’s: The visitors won 3-1`on the night (25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 25-13) led by Brazilian Amaral Dante and Israeli Alexander Shafranovich and returned to Thessaloniki with the third league title in as many years.

As in Game 3, the final match of the series was stained by the shower of objects the Olympiakos fans treated the visitors with at the end of the game.

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