Who closes gap with Twin Towers? Haasrode/Leuven and Aalst want to set fire to favorites in new volleyball competition
2 de November, 2021
That all eight teams have survived the corona catastrophe is the best news. It is equally gratifying that Haasrode/Leuven and Aalst hope to sneak closer to Maaseik and Roeselare. With Gent-Menen, the top class men in the men are also starting a new year today.
The specter of an impossible competition with seven members has therefore not come true. Even eternal troubled children such as Gent and Waremme have remained on board and Menen has also endured the loss of its main sponsor, but the ambition of the Liga to expand to ten or twelve clubs in the medium term has not been an issue for some time. . Only because the number of professional players and the infrastructure is not judged too strictly can smaller clubs still participate in the highest series. A double competition where each team plays four times against the seven competitors, a formula that has used (and tormented) basketball for years, is not an option in volleyball. Cup, play-offs and title finals included, Maaseik and Roeselare already look each other in the eye way too often.
Bill Clinton had just started his first term as US president when the VC Zellik from lender Paul De Smet won the national title in 1994. Since then, Maaseik and Roeselare have alternated as champions, usually far above the rest of the pack. This season, Menen, Aalst and especially Haasrode/Leuven hope to narrow the gap with the Twin Towers. The Flemish Brabant club brought in three Belgian internationals with Hendrik Tuerlinckx, Lennert Van Elsen and Matthias Valkiers in a core that also consists exclusively of compatriots. Is that enough to establish itself as number 3? Or is that role for Aalst, which has significantly renewed its core after a disappointing season? After five years in France, the Dutch main attacker Robin Overbeke (Ned) returns to his former club (then Asse-Lennik). Seppe Baetens also reports back to his old club and four newcomers came from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
A monument has departed from Roeselare. Hendrik Tuerlinckx returned to his Brabant heimat. To what extent will that loss mark the season of the national champion? The opening weekend immediately pits Roeselare against Haasrode/Leuven, Tuerlinckx’s new team. Can that duel make something clear about the new balance of power between top and subtop?
Maaseik also saw a monument take a step back. Mathi Raedschelders retired after 35 years (!) as chairman of the Limburg club. Under his reign, Maaseik reached the final of the Champions League in 1997. No Belgian club has ever been so close to the Supreme in volleyball. Maaseik opted for its traditional revolving door policy in the interim season. A bunch of foreigners outside, a bunch of foreigners inside. The most striking neophyte on the Meuse is Gustavo Guazzelli Bonata, a 35-year-old Brazilian of 2m15. It takes time to make that whole gang click. Anyway, actually the play-offs and the title final next spring will overshadow everything that precedes it anyway.