Lindemans Aalst is gradually getting up to speed. The Onions qualified for the semi-finals of the Belgian Cup after a smooth 3-1 win against Achel.
In a season without European volleyball, getting a ticket for the semi-finals of the Belgian Cup was a must. Last week, first national team Hemiksem was quickly put aside, but things would be different against Achel in the quarter-finals. The Limburgers have ambition and started the new season stronger. Fortunately for Aalst, the Achelen figurehead Max Staples was not present, but with the Romanian international Rata, the Onions had their hands more than full.
“We dominated the first set,” said coach Christophe Achten. “But unfortunately we struggled with the Achelen service at the end and made some stupid mistakes, causing us to lose the first inning 28-30. Fortunately, the players remained calm and we dominated the match from then on. Alvaro Gimeno served us to an easy 25-10 in the second inning. And Achel was also hardly involved in the third (25-19) and fourth set (25-16).
The only downer against Achel was Gimeno’s failure in the third set. “Our Brazilian main striker sprained his ankle and had to leave. Too bad because he was playing a good game. Fortunately, I had the luxury of being able to bring in Robin Overbeeke and he more than contributed.”
Playmaker Xavier Folguera could not hide his enthusiasm after the victory against Achel: “This victory is very gratifying,” said Folguera. “Not only for the trust but also for the belief in this group of players. This of course still requires confirmation, but in any case we are on the right track. The big difference with the previous matches was that we were now able to develop a lot of service pressure. Our blocking was also on point this time. With 18 block points compared to 5 for Achel, the difference was big.”
Coach Achten also saw the latter: “Service and blocking are also the points on which we have worked hard in recent weeks. Most players are now fit and Robbe Van de Velde is coming up to speed. That is very important for the team.”
An extra top competition
By playing the semi-finals – the dates have not yet been determined – Aalst is assured of an additional top match at home. “The public comes to Schotte for those matches,” says Achten. “We receive Roeselare on Thursday and the VIP is already completely sold out with 250 people. So far the teams are evenly matched. We can now look forward to that match against the national champions with confidence. We don’t like the last place we are in now. We want to get points as quickly as possible.”(sgm)