Defending champs make it through to Italy semifinals


Uros Kovacevic of Calzedonia Verona tries to get past the Azimut Modena block in the deciding match of the Italian League quarterfinals.

Lausanne, Switzerland, March 12, 2017 - Defending champions Azimut Modena turned around their Italian men's UnipolSai Superleague quarterfinal series against Calzedonia Verona with a deciding win Sunday night 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19) before a sellout crowd of almost 5,000 at the PalaPanini that saw them through to the semifinals.

Best-of-five semifinals (starting next Sunday):
- Cucine Lube Civitanova v Azimut Modena
- Diatec Trentino v Sir Safety Conad Perugia

After Verona stunned them in the first leg at home, Modena had tied the best-of-three series midweek with a straight sets win in Verona.

MVP of the game Earvin Ngapeth of France was the force behind Modena's deciding win Sunday, scoring 20 points, while Luca Vettori added another 17. Uros Kovacevic of Serbia was best scorer for Verona with 15.

Sada Cruzeiro lead Brazil Playoffs
Defending domestic champions and reigning world champions Sada Cruzeiro Contagem finished their Regular Seasons obligations with their 21st win in 22 matches and in pole position ahead of the Brazil Superleague Playoffs, after demolishing Volei Brasil Kirin of Campinas 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-11) at home in the Riachao before some 2,000 fans.

Simon Robertalndy was top scorer with 14 points and picked up the MVP, while Evandro Guerra scored another 13 for Sada Cruzeiro, who had already secured the top position in the standings and home advantage in the Playoffs weeks ago.

But Funvic Taubate narrowly avoided dropping to third place when they were taken all the way by Juiz de Fora Volei. Taubate lost 3-2 (19-25, 26-24, 25-20, 22-25, 15-8) but the point they picked up was enough to secure second place on set ratio ahead of Sesi Sao Paulo who beat bottom of the table Camuru Volei Castro 3-1 (25-27, 25-22, 25-17, 25-23).

Taubate now meet Juiz de Fora again in the quarterfinals.

Best-of-three quarterfinals:
- Sada Cruzeiro Contagem v Lebes Gedore Canoas
- Funvic Taubate v Juiz de Fora Volei
- Sesi Sao Paulo v Minas Tenis Clube Belo Horizonte
- Volei Brasil Kirin Campinas v Montes Claros Volei

Zenit stay undefeated in Russia
In Russia's Superleague defending champions Zenit Kazan scored their 23rd win in as many games, defeating Yugra-Samotlor of Nizhnevartovsk 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-17) at home, with Denis Zemchenok coming off the bench in the first set to replace Maxim Mikhaylov and emerging top scorer with 12 points, as coach Vladimir Alekno gave most of regular starters a rest.

With Zenit having already secured the top spot in the Regular Season standings and home advantage for the Playoffs, the race for the other top positions is still very much on in Russia. Dinamo Moscow retained their slight advantage for second place with a 3-0 (32-30, 25-16, 25-23) at home over Yenisei Krasnoyarsk as Yuri Berezhko scored 13 points and Konstantin Bakun another 12.

ZAKSA bag one more win in Poland
ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle remain at the top of the Polish PlusLiga standings with an eight-point difference after their latest win, 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-15) away over Effector Kielce, with Belgium's Sam Deroo earning the MVP of the game award for his top-scoring 18 points.

Asseco Resovia Rzeszow are still in second place following their own away win 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-19) over BBTS Bielsko Biala. Canada's John Gordon Perrin was named MVP after scoring 15 points for Resovia.

The winner of the Polish Leaugue gets an automatic ticket to the 2017 FIVB Club World Championship which will be held in Poland next December. They will be joined by South American champions Sada Cruzeiro Contagem, Asian champions Sarmayeh Bank Tehran and the winners of the 2017 European Champions League (29-30 April in Rome). Two more tickets will go to the winners of the club leagues of the not-yet-qualified countries, from the top two countries in the FIVB ranking as of 31 December 2016, in addition to two wild cards to be awarded.

Ajaccio claim Cup title in France
Led by top-scoring Nikola Mijailovic of Serbia on 18 points, defending cup holders Ajaccio of Corsica won their second ever Cup title in France after shutting out Nantes Reze 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-18) in the final. Captain Jovica Simovski of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia added another 17 for the winners, but it was Robin Overbeeke of The Netherlands who emeged top scorer of the game with 19 for Nantes.

The win sees Ajaccio become the fourth club in the history of the competition to win back-to-back Cup titles, after Frejus, Paris Volley and Tours. It was also the sixth Cup title for Ajaccio and former France international libero Jean-Francois Exiga, who had previously won the competition with Cannes (once) and Tours (four times).

Espinho stop Benfica for Portugal Cup title
Espinho beat Benfica Lisbon 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) to claim the Cup title this weekend. Marco Ferreira with 17 points for Espinho was instrumental in bringing an end to the run of Benfica who had won the previous two titles. For Espinho it was their first Cup title since 2008.

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