Champions League heats up ahead of Club Worlds


Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Sir Sicoma Colussi Perugia strikes past the block of Belogorie Belgorod's Taras Khtey and Artem Smolyar as the Italian side remain undefeated in the European Champions League.

Lausanne, Switzerland, January 19, 2017 - Defending champions Zenit Kazan remain on track for their third European Champions League title and a direct ticket to the 2017 FIVB Men's Club World Championship at the halfway point of the top club competition in Europe.

Maxim Mikhailov with 21 points and Wilfredo Leon with another 20 helped the 2016 FIVB Club World Championship runners-up thunder past VfB Friedrichshafen 3-1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-13, 25-21) before some 2,500 fans in the German city. That included three aces each, as the Russian champions overwhelmed Friedrichshafen from the service line, as well as an incredible 71% (17/24) attacking efficiency from Leon.

The win sees Zenit Kazan remain unbeated after three matches in Pool C, as Friedrichshafen dropped to third place below Turkey's Arkas Izmir.

Also undefeated after three matches are reigning Italian champions Azimut Modena, after their 3-1 (24-26, 29-27, 25-18, 25-16) win over Romania's Universitatea Craiova at home before 3,500 fans, with usual suspect Earvin Ngapeth top scoring at 23 points - including 4 aces.

It was overall a good week for Italy, as Sir Sicoma Colussi Perugia edged Belogorie Belgorod 3-2 (11-25, 25-14, 31-29, 18-25, 15-13) before 4,000 at home to also stay undefeated at the top of Pool E. Aleksandar Atanasijevic was top scorer of the game with 25 points as Perugia handed the Russians their first defeat in the competition.

And Cucine Lube Civitanova nicely wrapped up the week's action Thursday evening, as Tsvetan Sokolov and Osmany Juantorena scored 15 points each to silence the almost 4,500 fans in Rzeszow with the Italian side's 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-14) sweep of Asseco Resovia. Lube overwhelmed Resovia with 11 aces (6 alone from Juantorena) to 2 and 8 stuffs to 3.

German champions Berlin Recycling Volleys, who beat Dukla Liberec 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-16) in the Czech Republic, continue to lead Pool B - but only on points now (7), as they've been joined by Lube (6) and Resovia (4) on identical 2-1 records. This is certainly a pool to keep an eye on.

The battle of the undefeated sides of Pool A, meanwhile, went Poland's way, as Zaksa Kiedzerzyn Kozle scored a decisive away win in Moscow over Dinamo 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 28-30, 25-20) with the aid of top scorer Sam Deroo on 19 points.

See all the results, statistics and photos on the European Volleyball Confederation website.

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