2017 FIVB VOLLEYBALL MEN’S CLUB WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
- December 12 – 17
- Lodz, Opole, Krakow – Poland
- Tournament Central
- Power Rankings
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
Today’s semifinals matches crowned the two best teams of the competition with a trip to the finals. In the first game of the day, Zenit Kazan was on a mission, fueled by coach Vladimir Alekno’s potent desire of finally beating nemesis Cruzeiro, and completely outclassed its Brazilian rivals in an easy 3-0 match. Lube Civitanova then took the court in Krakow to book its ticket to the finals against Skra Belchatow in a very tight and much harder 3-0 win. For Team USA fans, this means watching three of the country’s best players on court in the same game: Zenit Kazan‘s Matt Anderson and Lube’s Micah Christenson and Taylor Sander.
Below, you’ll find information from all of today’s matches:
Performance of the Day: Wilfredo Leon
After being out-shined in two consecutive tournament finals by compatriot Yoandy Leal, Wilfredo Leon delivered a masterful performance as his team was finally able to overcome Cruzeiro. Leon led his team with 20 points in only 3 sets of play, hitting 64% from the floor (16/25) and adding 2 blocks and 2 aces. He also shined in the reception line, allowing Zenit’s setter Alexander Butko to distribute the team’s offensive game as he pleased. Leon is playing with wisdom way beyond his years, as there is little doubt he is the world’s best volleyball player.
Team of the day: Zenit Kazan
It took three years and two Club World Championships finals, but Zenit was finally able to beat nemesis Cruzeiro. It is evident from coach Vladimir Alekno‘s words that this was a longtime goal of the team, and they did so in very dominating fashion, allowing Cruzeiro no chances at a comeback. Only a miracle from Italy’s Lube Civitanova can prevent Kazan’s title now, the only major volleyball title the Russian powerhouse club is yet to win in its history.
Zenit Kazan x Sada/Cruzeiro
European and Russia champions Zenit Kazan took revenge for losing to Sada Cruzeiro in the last two finals of the competition with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-18) sweep of their arch rivals in the first semifinal of the 2017 FIVB Men’s Club World Championship here today. This knocked the defending champions out of contention in the defence of their title and the South America and Brazil champions will have to settle for the bronze medal game on Sunday. For Zenit this will be their third straight Club World Championship final in their quest for that all-elusive gold. In addition to the silver medals in 2015 and 2017, Zenit also picked bronze medals in 2009 and 2011 as well as finishing fourth in 2012.
Cuban-born Wilfredo Leon from the outside with 20 points and opposite Maxim Mikhaylov with 14 led the scoring for Zenit, as both clocked attacking efficiency above the 50% mark – Leon at 64% (16/25) and Mikhaylov at 55% (11/20). Zenit Kazan also out-serviced Cruzeiro 8-3 in the match while also being gifted 23 points from errors.
Here are the post match reactions:
Matt Anderson, Zenit Kazan player (substituting for captain Alexander Butko): “It was a good match. We played very high balls today like most of the Russian teams do and like we did in the European Champions League. Sada had very strong serve in the first set and we had a tough situation. With big guns like Leon and high level appearance of middle blockers we got what we wanted. I think Butko played very well, spread the balls wide and we had an easier situation.”
Marcelo Mendez, Sada Cruzeiro Coach: Kazan played well in serve, their set looked very good and other skills functioned very well. We wish them good luck in tomorrow’s match. We need to analyse how we played today and prepare before Sunday.”
Filipe Ferraz, Sada Cruzeiro Captain: “Today we didn’t play well, so first of all we want to congratulate Zenit. They played well in serving, and our reception and the rest of game components did not function great.”
Lube Civitanova x Skra Belchatow
In their debut appearance in the competition, Italian champions Cucine Lube Civitanova shut our local favourites PGE Skra Belchatow 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-23) in the second semifinal of the 2017 FIVB Men’s Club World Championship to set up a clash with Russia’s Zenit Kazan in Sunday’s final. Lube are the first Italian side to play in a Club World Championship final since Trentino Diatec picked up their fourth consecutive title in 2012.
Skra missed their real chance in the first set, when they led Lube 23-21 before the Italian side rallied for a 4-0 run to take the overall lead. Lube never trailed in the score after that for the remainder of the match.
Tsvetan Sokolov was once again the driving force for Lube, bringing in 11 kills in 21 swings (52%) and adding two blocks and one ace for a total of 14 points, as the Italian champions outplayed Skra in all scoring skills. Lube will now play Zenit in Sunday’s final at Krakow’s Tauron Arena at 20:30 local time (19:30 GMT), following the bronze medal between Brazil’s Sada Cruzeiro and Skra at 17:30 (16:30 GMT).
Here are the post match reactions:
Giampaolo Medei, Lube Civitanova Coach: “I think that in this match my team didn’t play the best volleyball. I think it’s quite normal when we play a very important match it’s hard to play 100% in such a tough tournament. The key was my team didn’t give up especially in the first set, we kept calm in this difficult moment. We kept focus on our technique and the mentality. For sure we need to play better tomorrow. The key will be to forget about these problems and give our 100% on the court. Maybe the game will be the most important in the whole season. If we will keep our mentality tomorrow we can fight for the Club Championship against Zenit.”
Taylor Sander, Lube Civitanova opposite: “We are very excited, I want to congratulate Skra for being in the semis. It was a nice game for me, it was a fun playing with my team here. The fans are so great and it’s a great place to play volleyball. Today we knew what we wanted to do – we served and passed well. We are very excited to be in the final against Kazan. They are one of the best teams in the world and they proved that many times. For us being to be able to represent Italy and our club Lube in the final is something that was a goal of ours. We are also excited, because we will have a great battle to play against them and we will continue our volley.”
Roberto Piazza, Skra Belchatow Coach: “Lube played a normal good game. They wanted to make a step further and had a chance to play in the final. They played with heart. The first set was in our hands, but in the end we started to think that we have something to lose. When you’ve started thinking like this, you are losing the game. This was the dead moment for me and the crucial moment for this match. In the second set we started to play when we were down losing five points and then we started thinking there is nothing to lose. We had such a weak starts and then we lost each set to 23.”
Mariusz Wlazly, Skra Belchatow Captain: “Congratulations to Lube. What can I say – we regret we didn’t use our chance and missed a lot of points. We lost each set to 23, but with a five-point difference it’s hard to chase a team like this. We had some points of advantage in the first set, but we could not use it. In the next sets we needed to follow the score which was difficult. We have a lesson to analyse, we need to find the positives from this game.”