European road to Club Worlds takes shape


Piotr Orczyk attacks for Knack Roeselare against the block of Sir Sicoma Colussi Perugia's block of Emanuele Birarelli and Mihajlo Mitic in the European Champions League.

Lausanne, Switzerland, February 16, 2017 - While seven clubs have already secured pole position in their pools and a berth in the European Men's Champions League Playoffs, things got complicated in Pool E, after Knack Roeselare of Belgium handed Final Four hosts (in Rome) Sir Sicoma Colussi Perugia of Italy their first defeat of the season 3-2 (25-18, 20-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-13) as the penultimate round of pool play concluded Wednesday night across the continent.

ZAKSA Kedzierzyn Kozle of Poland, defending champions Zenit Kazan of Russia and Azimut Modena Italy have all secured first place in their respective pools and claimed their tickets to the next round. They are joined in the playoffs by Russia's Dinamo Moscow, Italy's Cucine Lube Civitanova, Germany's Berlin Recycling Volleys, Turkey's Arkas Izmir who are assured of at least second place. The top two teams of each pool plus three best third-ranked teams advance to the Playoffs.

The winners of the 2017 Champions League get an automatic berth at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship, next December in Poland.

Hendrik Tuerlinckx scored 24 points and attacked for 63 per cent (23/36) to lead the Belgian side, with Pieter Coolman adding another 18 points. Velizar Chernokozhev of Bulgaria and Aaron Russell of USA shared top scoring honours for Perugia with 19 points each, as coach Lorenzo Bernardi kept Ivan Zaytsev on the bench. Perugia dominated from the service line with 15 aces to 4, but lacked in overall attacking efficiency (46 per cent to 56 per cent).

In other exciting midweek action, Mazim Mikhailov with 12 points and Wilfedo Leon with another 11 led Zenit Kazan to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-20) sweep of Paris Volley in the French capital, which keeps the defending champions undefeated after five games and on track for their third straight and fifth overall continental title.

Poland's ZAKSA Kedzierzyn Kozle are also undefeated after Mateusz Bienek scored 12 points in their 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-21) win at home over Belgium's Noliko Maaseik. And Italy's Azimut Modena had already become the only other team to advance to a 5-0 record following their 3-1 (25-16, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22) home win over Poland's PGE Skra Belchatow, in which Luca Vettori scored 21 points.

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

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