Lodz / Opole, Poland, December 14, 2017 - Sada Cruzeiro Volei claimed the last remaining vacancy in Saturday’s semifinals of the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship. The Brazilian team won the most decisive match on the last competition day of the pool stage to continue the defence of their title to the disappointment of Poland’s ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle and the sell-out crowd in Opole.
With Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova topping Pool A unbeaten and Russia’s Zenit Kazan shutting out Skra Belchatow in the de facto final of Pool B, Saturday’s semifinal fixtures shaped up as Lube vs. Skra and Zenit vs. Sada Cruzeiro.
Pool A in Opole
Reigning Brazilian and South American champions Sada Cruzeiro Volei got back on track to defend their world title after sweeping Polish champions ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle in straight sets in what was a direct duel for the last remaining vacancy at the final four in Krakow. After having played ten sets on the opening two days, ZAKSA simply failed to live up to the task and crumbled before a vastly improved and impressive Sada Cruzeiro.
"I want to thank all the people of Opole for such a great reception here,” said Sada Cruzeiro’s captain Filipe Ferraz. “Today my team played a very hard match, but played very well. We are prepared to play against Zenit Kazan or Skra Belchatow in the semifinals, and I think it will be a good match.”
Emotional moment for Sada Cruzeiro after advancing to the semifinals
Italian champions Cucine Lube Civitanova delivered a 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-23) shutout of two-time Asian champions Sarmaye Bank from Iran to finish undefeated on top of Pool A.
Lube’s Osmany Juantorena celebrates as the best scorer of the match against Sarmaye Bank
Pool B in Lodz
Leaving the Club World Championship with at least one win proved to be a high stake for China’s Shanghai Golden Age and Argentina’s Personal Bolivar. Without a shot at making the semis, the two sides engaged in a five-set battle in their last game in Lodz, with the Asian rookies scoring their historic first victory, twice coming back from a set down on the way to a 3-2 (22-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18, 15-13) win.
Shanghai Golden Age celebrate their historic victory
Zenit Kazan topped the final standings in Pool B without dropping a single set in their three matches. In the last game of the pool, in front of the packed stands at the Atlas Arena, the Russian standout shut out home favourites from Skra Belchatow for a well-deserved 3-0 (29-27, 25-20, 25-16) victory, leaving the opponents in the runner-up position before Saturday’s semis.
“First of all, we are happy that we are going to Krakow, and then, we are happy we have the chance to face the Sada Cruzeiro again after losing the previous two finals against them," Zenit’s coach Vladimir Alekno stated at the post-match press conference.
Smiling Wilfredo Leon, top scorer of the match, poses with his family
Semifinals on Saturday