2016 Review: Sada Cruzeiro simply cannot get enough of winning


Sada Cruzeiro celebrate winning the 2016 edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship

Lausanne, Switzerland, January 2, 2017 - It was October 23 when Sada Cruzeiro were crowned FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship winners for the second time in a row and the third time in the last four years.

Just six days later, the top team in the world claimed Brazil’s Supercopa, defeating Brazil Kirin 3-1 (18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-20). And there was more: the first seven matches of the Brazilian Superliga produced seven wins for Sada Cruzeiro, taking the team straight to the top of the table.

“We just spend every day working to win whatever competition we are in. This is who we are,” said coach Marcelo Mendez.

Since 2010, the team in blue has won an incredible 24 trophies. “Before us, the best result by a Brazilian team was runner-up at the Club World Championship,” Méndez said. “No Brazilian club has come close to this team and we have gone down in volleyball history, which makes us very happy. What we’ve done is amazing, but we haven’t run out of steam yet. It’s harder to stay at the top than to get there.”

Sada Cruzeiro are now the second most successful team in the history of the FIVB Men’s Club World Championships, behind Italy’s Trentino, who have won four trophies. However, the Brazilians have set their sights on becoming the most successful team. As such, the defence of their title in 2017 is one of the goals for this remarkable team.

“This is the story of a team that works incredibly hard every day to win,” said Mendez, looking back at this year’s edition of the tournament, that features the top volleyball clubs on the planet. “We work to get where we are, to get on the podium and to have fun. Ahead of the game against Zenit Kazan, we spoke about leaving everything out there and we did. We played the perfect game.”

The performances backed this statement up, as the successful team outplayed the opposition in each of its five matches at the 12th FIVB Men’s Club World Championship, which took place in Betim, Brazil. That was also the case in the final, when the Russian giants of Zenit Kazan were steamrolled 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-15). None of the Sada Cruzeiro players were off-form, and the whole team acted like a well-oiled machine. Opposite Evandro Guerra led the scorers with 14 points, joined by Yoandy Leal who chipped in with 13, while star setter William Arjona was elected as the tournament’s MVP.

“These awards are not among my goals, to be honest. An award like this needs good performances from the rest of the team, the receivers and the attackers too. This happens when the whole team does well,” said William. Team spirit instead of individual stars – that is the key to the success of this team, which is obviously also extremely talented.

However, the other seven teams also did their bit to ensure that this year’s FIVB Men’s Club World Championship was a fantastic advertisement for volleyball, played out in front of thousands of passionate fans in the hall and millions watching around the world on their TVs, computers and smartphones.

As well as Sada Cruzeiro, Brazil was represented by another team in the form of co-hosts Minas Tênis Clube. Brazil’s arch-rivals Argentina sent UPCN San Juan and Personal Bolívar, who, like record winners Trentino Diatec, made it to the tournament courtesy of a wild card. The club champions from the continents of Europe (Zenit Kazan), Asia (Taichung Bank) and Africa (Tala'ea El-Gaish) were also involved. The action in Pool A was dominated by eventual finalists Sada Cruzeiro and Kazan, with the Brazilians winning the top-two showdown 3-1.

In Pool B, Trentino Diatec came through, losing just one set in three matches. The Argentinean duel for the second semifinal ticket was won by Personal Bolivar, who defeated UPCN San Juan 3-1. The semifinals then saw Sada Cruzeiro beat Personal Bolivar 3-1 in the South American duel, while Kazan thrashed Trentino 3-0 in an all-European affair. Small consolation for the record winners came in the form of bronze medals after defeating Bolivar 3-2 in the third/fourth place playoff.

There was also a success for the unfortunate fourth-placed team from Argentina: Thomas Edgar made up for missing out on a medal at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship by finishing as the tournament's leading scorer with 74 points. The 27-year-old opposite registered points from 66 attacks, three blocks and five serves. It meant he finished first, ahead of two players from title-winners Sada Cruzeiro.

And there were other winners at this tournament too: during the two final days of action at the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship in Betim, almost 200 local children joined in the fun at a two-day Volleyball Your Way festival held alongside the elite tournament. They gathered for the festival to enjoy consecutive mornings of volleyball and to see their idols play in the world's top competition for men's club teams. Dressed in the yellow festival t-shirts, they then got a chance to meet players for photos and autographs that will remain lifetime souvenirs of the event.

FIVB Men’s Club World Championship Winners:
1989 - Maxicono Parma (ITA)
1990 - Mediolanum Milan (ITA)
1991 - Il Messaggero Ravenna (ITA)
1992 - Misura Milan (ITA)
2009 - Trentino BetClic (ITA)
2010 - Trentino BetClic (ITA)
2011 - Trentino Diatec (ITA)
2012 - Trentino Diatec (ITA)
2013 - Sada Cruzeiro (BRA)
2014 - Belogorie Belgorod (RUS)
2015 - Sada Cruzeiro (BRA)
2016 - Sada Cruzeiro (BRA)

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