Sunday 7th February, Eibar
XALA – ZUBIETA beat BENGOETXEA VI – OTXANDORENA 22-18
Xala pulled off one of his best performances in recent times at Astelena on Sunday to condemn Oinatz Bengoetxea and stand-in partner Inaki Otxandorena to their fourth loss of the competition. Languishing as they do at the bottom of the table, there is now little hope for them of progression to the last four. The victors, in contrast, stand squarely in the fight for the coveted berths.
Things looked positive for the Asegarce pair at the start of the encounter, as they stole a 4-0 thanks in part to a pair of errors from Xala. However, the forward from Lekuine stood up to be counted and determined the pace and direction of the remainder of the play. He punished the opposition with the high ball, and volleyed with aplomb, outdoing Bengoetxea for pace in the forward battle. Bengoetxea played, as he has done throughout the tournament, with all the drive and verve to which we have become accustomed but his power and cutting edge again seemed lacking. Xala managed twelve winners, double the number scored by Bengoetxea, who did not hit gold until the score stood at 15-12. Zubieta supported Xala excellently; the Aspe pair played as a team and divided their workload accordingly, the one providing the cushion for the other. Bengoetxea and Otxandorena ran them close throughout the second half of the game, but lacked the killer thrust to challenge for the victory.
Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-4, 3-4, 3-5, 5-5, 12-5, 12-7, 13-7, 13-9, 15-9, 15-10, 15-12, 16-12, 16-14, 18-14, 18-16, 19-16, 21-16, 21-18, 22-18.
Image from: La Rioja