Cucine Lube Civitanova lost to Zenit Kazan at the closing of the preliminary stage of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship in Betim, Brazil.
After dominating over the Russian powerhouse Zenit in the first set, the European champions assured the first place in the standings and will play the weakest team in the tournament in the semifinals, which is Qatari Al-Rayyan Sports Club. With the first place secured after taking the opening set of the match, the head coach of the Italian titleholders De Giorgi decided to give the opportunity to backups, leaving only Luxembourgian Rychlicky on the court from the initial lineup. Iranian Ghafour didn’t play at all as he has just returned from an injury and was spared for the decisive games of the tournament. As for Zenit, their head coach Verbov left the strongest forces on the court throughout entire match which resulted in a 3-2 (12:25, 23:25, 25:12, 25:20, 15:10) victory. Bulgarian opposite Tsvetan Sokolov, and former Lube’s player, was the top scorer for Zenit with 19 points while Kamil Rychlicki scored 14 points for Lube.
Zenit Kazan’s opposite Denis Zemchenok: “Our first set was really bad, but after that we got better and managed to get an important win. It was good that all of our players got to play as we’ll need everyone in the final matches. I think we still need to improve, especially on our serving, but we have another training session before the semifinals and we’ll try to take advantage of it.”
Cucine Lube Civitanova’s head coach Ferdinando de Giorgi: “We knew that we just needed to win one set to finish first and after that we thought it would be more valuable for us to give some time to some players who haven’t been on the court a lot. Now we have one day off until the semifinals and we’ll prepare the best way we can. Some players will rest and we’ll get some work done with others.”
Cucine Lube Civitanova’s setter Bruno Rezende: “We knew we’d have to play five matches in six days here and that at some point we’d need to rest some players. So our goal was to start strong, win the first set and then sub off the players who had been on the court for most of the first matches. (Amir) Ghafour is recovering well and the idea is that we’ll have him on the court for the final matches, so that would be great.”
Led by Otávio Pinto and Cledenílson Souza, who scored 10 points each, Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei from Brazil swept Al-Rayyan and settled at the No.2 prior to the semifinals, which means they will face Zenit in the battle for the final. Brazilian Marcus Vinícius Costa scored 11 points for the side from Doha.
Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei’s head coach Marcelo Mendez: “Our team is improving after a period of a little bit of a rebuilding, but I’m very satisfied about everyone’s commitment. Now we’ll take the Friday to rest on work on some areas of our game so we can enter the final stage at our best because it will be a very tough one.”
Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei’s opposite Luan Weber: “It was nice that Marcelo (Mendez) rotated the players a little bit so we could rest who needed rest and also give some rhythm to those who hadn’t played so much. We beat Zenit in the preliminary round but it’s certainly going to be a different game and a very difficult one in the semifinals.”
Al-Rayyan Sports Club’s setter Milos Stevanovic: “It’s been a pleasure for us to be in this tournament playing against the best teams in the world. We’ve been having several injury problems and that has made our lives even harder here, but it’s still great that we got to participate. I hope we can play at a better level over the weekend.”
2019 FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship – Round 3
Cucine Lube Civitanova (ITA) – Zenit Kazan (RUS) 2-3 (25:12, 25:23, 12:25, 20:25, 10:15)
Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei (BRA) – Al-Rayyan Sports Club (QAT) 3-0 (25:20, 25:16, 25:17)
(2) Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei (BRA) – (3) Zenit Kazan (RUS), 18:00 CET
(1) Cucine Lube Civitanova (ITA) – (4) Al-Rayyan Sports Club (QAT), 21:00 CET
Source and photos: clubworldchampionships.2019.men.fivb.com.