Panathinaikos confirms lead in volleyball league

Panathinaikos beat volleyball champions Iraklis 3-2 yesterday to open a two-point gap at the top of the table. The result came as a surprise to many, given the picture of the game in its first three-and-a-half sets, with Iraklis playing far better than its host at Glyfada. The Thessaloniki side led 20-16 toward the end of the first set but somehow managed to foreit its lead and lose it 27-25. In the next two sets, Iraklis was a class above Panathinaikos, beating them comfortably 25-16 and 25-17. The work at that point seemed all but done for Iraklis, which took an 11-9 lead in the fourth set as well. However, the Panathinaikos players managed to pull themselves together and turn things around to lead 23-20 and win the fourth set 25-23. During the tie break, it initially seemed as if Iraklis would emerge victorious, as the Thessaloniki side led 8-3 at the technical timeout. But once again Panathinaikos came back and turned a 13-10 deficit into a 15-14 advantage before winning the set 17-15, thanks to three points by Akis Hatziantoniou and a block by Liberman Agamez. In the games played on Saturday, both Lamia and Apollon Kalamarias came from a set down to beat Kifissia and Ethnikos Alexandroupolis respectively. Yesterday newly promoted Finikas Syrou thrashed PAOK 3-0, proving it is deservedly seen as the season’s surprise side. Later in the evening, Aris beat Milon 3-1 in Thessaloniki (25-20, 27-25, 25-17). Today Olympiakos entertains EA Patras in Patras.