PAO makes volleyball’s final series

Panathinaikos advanced to the final of the volleyball league yesterday, where it will face titleholder Olympiakos in a best-of-five series starting on Monday. The Greens defeated Aris 3-1 in Thessaloniki to win the semifinal series against their opponents by the same score. Olympiakos had thrashed Lamia 3-0. Aris gave Panathinaikos yet another scare after beating the Athens side last Thursday at Vassilika in Game 2 of the series, when it came close to taking a 2-1 set lead on the night, only for its set points to be successfully defended by Panathinaikos, which eventually won 25-22, 20-25, 29-27, 25-21. The fact that Aris was able to challenge Panathinaikos in such a dramatic fashion shows how much the Greens are missing Greece outside hitter Costas Christofidelis, who has tested positive for a banned substance and is likely to receive a two-year ban. Aris has finished third and Lamia fourth, and both qualified to next season’s CEV Cup, but the battle for the fifth spot that leads to Europe’s Challenge Cup remains open. PAOK took the series with Panellinios to 1-1 last night with its 3-0 win at home (25-21, 25-19, 25-20), so the fifth place will be decided in Game 3 at Kypseli on Monday.

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