Lube’s Tsvetan Sokolov, Jenia Grebennikov and Micah Christenson hug each other in celebration of victory
Lodz / Opole, Poland, December 13, 2017 – Russia’s Zenit Kazan, Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova and Poland's Skra Belchatow booked their tickets to the semifinals on day 2 of the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship.
On Wednesday, the second Polish team, Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle, played another five-setter with an extended tie-breaker, but this time lost to Lube. On Thursday, they will battle against the reigning champions of Sada Cruzeiro Volei from Brazil in a direct duel for the last remaining vacancy in the semifinals in Krakow.
Pool A in Opole
Twice, Italian champions Cucine Lube Civitanova trailed Polish champions and hosts Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle, but twice they came back to tie the intense and dramatic game, before rallying in the fifth for a sensational 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 18-16) win in front of a sell-out crowd at Opole Arena. This was the second five-setter for Zaksa in two days, after defeating Iran’s Sarmaye Bank on Tuesday.
"This was an amazing match for the fans, for the crowd. Maybe not so much for the coach," exclaimed Lube's coach Giampaolo Medei after the game. "What is important is that we won the match. Maybe it was not the best volleyball on our part, but it was an important match for us mentally."
Coach Medei with an emotional reaction during the match
Defending champions Sada Cruzeiro Volei bounced back from their opening day shock to shut out Sarmaye Bank by 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-22) and stay alive in the race for a ticket to the semifinals - though the Asian champions gave the South Americans a run for their money.
Sada Cruzeiro's Robertlandy Simon Aties about to deliver a powerful hit
Pool B in Lodz
Zenit Kazan practically booked their ticket to the final round of the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship in Krakow after their 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-21) win against China’s Shanghai Golden Age, but had to wait until the second set of the next match in Lodz was over to be absolutely sure.
Mother gives Zenit’s Wilfredo Leon her good luck blessing before the game
Skra Belchatow once again pleased the noisy home crowd at the Atlas Arena in Lodz, this time not only with a victory, but also with a spot among the best four teams in the world. The home favourites came back from a set behind to manage a 3-1 (23-25, 25-15, 25-21, 25-19) win against Argentina’s Personal Bolivar, a result which also secured a semifinal spot for Zenit, the other unbeaten team in the pool. There was also a personal touch in this game with the two Bulgarian brothers Nikolay and Rozalin Penchev playing against each other at the highest possible level.
“We began playing better in serving and blocking, which was the best piece tonight,” Skra’s coach Roberto Piazza commented. “We were amazing in this! What is important - we pushed our rival far away from the net and this was decisive.”
After playing against each other, the Penchev brothers posed together in front of the camera
Matches on Thursday