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Growing resentment toward Maccabi Tel Aviv came to a head this week ahead of the defending champion's semifinal contest tonight against Hapoel Kfar Sava. Maccabi, which is also the defending regular season champion, was upset in a league game 3-2 by Kfar Sava two months ago, and Saguy Baram, Kfar Sava's coach, further ripped into Maccabi at yesterday's press conference.

"I feel compelled to ruin the celebration," said Baram. "Volleyball has become the least competitive sport in Israel. I tip my hat to Maccabi's payroll, but it creates a problem for other teams. They can allow themselves not to have a youth division like the rest of the clubs."

Part of Kfar Sava's wrath is related to former player Josh Burak, a Canadian Jew who immigrated a year ago to join the team but left this summer for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Kfar Sava officials say Burak had a contract with the club, but according to Maccabi officials Burak told him that he had no such contract and they signed him after he received a release from the Canadian volleyball association.

"Instead of complaining to us they should check in Kfar Sava why he wanted to leave them so much," said Shraga Shemesh, chairman of Maccabi Tel Aviv. Kfar Sava challenged the signing, the local volleyball association barred Burak from playing in Tel Aviv, and Burak returned to Canada.