Lausanne, Switzerland, December 7, 2017 – The four European teams taking part in next week’s FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship registered two wins and two defeats in their matches of the first leg in the pool stage of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League, played on Wednesday evening. Poland’s ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle and Russia's Zenit Kazan celebrated away wins, while the other Polish side, Skra Belchatow, and Italy's Lube Civitanova will have to look for their first Champions League success after they are done with the World Champs in Opole, Lodz and Krakow.
ZAKSA survived through a tough battle against their hosts from Turkey’s Arkas Izmir without losing a single set and managed to fix a 3-0 (25-23, 30-28, 25-23) win. ZAKSA’s Belgian outside hitter Sam Deroo made 15 points to become the best scorer for his team and second best overall. His teammate Maurice Armando Torres contributed another 14 points to the victory. The Polish champs’ next game is their opening match in Pool A of the Club World Championship against Iran’s Sarmayeh Bank Tehran in Opole on Tuesday.
France’s Spacer’s Toulouse caused a real sensation by taking the first set against Zenit, but then the reigning European champions, playing without two of their star players, Maxim Mikhailov and Wilfredo Leon, recovered to turn things around to a 3-1 (29-31, 25-20, 25-23, 25-19) victory. Nikita Alekseev hammered out 26 points for the winning side to top the scorers’ chart of the match. Before travelling to Opole for the Club World Championship, Zenit will go back home to Kazan, where they have to entertain Yaroslavich Yaroslavl in a Russian Superliga fixture on Saturday.
Another French newcomer to the Champions League, Chaumont VB 52 Haute Marne, took a sensational performance all the way to a victorious outcome, upsetting clear pre-match favourites Skra with a 3-1 (19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 29-27) win in Belchatow, despite a great overall display by Srecko Lisinac, who scored 17 points for Skra, second-best in the match only to Stephen Boyer’s amazing tally of 33 points for Chaumont. Before taking on the Club World Championship challenge in nearby Lodz, Skra will get a chance to recover with a Polish PlusLiga home game against Dafi Spolem Kielce on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, our serves were one level or two lower than the usual and that is why the result is like that. We are disappointed, but we will fight in every match,” commented Skra’s captain Mariusz Wlazly.
Dubbed Match of the Week in the Champions League, the all-Italian clash between Sir Colussi Sicoma Perugia and Lube Civitanova was a real treat. Lube snatched the first two sets only to allow the home side a dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 (28-30, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-9) victory. Lube's Osmany Juantorena fired 24 points, including five aces, to become the team’s best scorer, followed by Tsvetan Sokolov with 17. On the opposite side, Aleksandar Atanasijevic contributed as many as 34 to his squad’s win. On Saturday, Lube will play an Italian Serie A home game against Kioene Padova before taking off to Opole for the start of their Club World Championship campaign on Tuesday.
“We had to show more determination and concentration. We paid a high price as we failed to do so and because of our own mistakes," Lube’s coach Giampaolo Medei stated after the game in Perugia.