The major volleyball event on a club level is today in Turin, Italy.
This is 2022/23 CEV Champions League Super Final, that this year brings together two powerhouse teams from the same country in an all-Polish affair: Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn-Kozle, better known in world of volleyball as ZAKSA, and Jastrzebski Węgiel will face each other in what will be a remake of last final of Plusliga.
As defending Polish league champions, ZAKSA (No.4 in regular season) actually had showcased their dominance over the rivals (who closed the competition at 3rd place), claiming victories of 3-2 and 3-1 in first and second leg.
However, in the Final, Jastrzebski absolutely dominated the court, winning the title in just three games, with 3-0, 3-1 and, again, the decisive 3-0 that crowned them champions, 10 days ago.
Moreover, Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn-Kozle and Jastrzebski Węgiel have already contested the final of the Polish Super Cup and even the Polish Cup in this edition of Plusliga! Jastrzebski emerged victorious in a thrilling five-set clash in the Super Cup, claiming victory with a final set score of 15-13 back in October 2022.
However, ZAKSA replied strongly and lifted the Polish Cup following a strong straight-sets win over their rivals in February.
About Champions League, this will be the second occasion in the history of the competition where two teams from the same country will face each other in Final.
The last time was in the 2003/04 season when Russia’s Lokomotiv Belgorod defeat compatriots of Iskra Odintsovo in straight sets.
Individually, Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn-Kozle will play the SuperFinals with an impressive record against Jastrzebski Węgiel in previous Champions League encounters.
In fact, they have emerged victorious in all four previous duels, showing their dominance with a series of strong performances.
In the 2017/18 Play-Offs, they secured 3-1 and 3-0 victories, and in last season’s Semi-Finals, they collected 3-0 and 3-2 wins.
But their track record against Polish opposition is equally impressive, winning seven out of eight matches, with their only setback coming in a 2-3 loss against Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie in the second leg of this season’s Play-Offs, following a very convincing 3-0 win in the first leg.
On the other hand, Jastrzebski Wegiel has had a more challenging time in recent duels against ZAKSA, as they have suffered defeat in their last four matches against their compatriots!
But probably you didn’t know that the first time that Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn-Kozle played against Jastrzebski Wegiel was on November 2 2013, when the latter prevailed at tie break!
This will be the Game No.51 between these two, and ZAKSA collected 34 victories so far, against rivals’16!
VakifBank and Eczacibasi will face each other for the first time in a CEV Champions League Volley Final, however this is by far the most played matchup in the competition’s history.
Eighteen times these two teams have played a classic Turkish derby to the European stage in the competition, but this will be the first all-Turkish Final ever.
Only twice before was a Final with teams from the same country facing each other, and in both occasions it was an all-Italian affair: in 2000/01 (Edison Volley Modena – Caposud Reggio Calabria, ended in straight sets), and in 2004/05 (Volley Bergamo – Asystel Novara, ended 3-0 too).
So far, VakifBank Istanbul has dominated the games against Eczacibasi, winning thirteen times including twelve out of the last thirteen of these matches!
However this season Eczacibasi has been the stronger team in the national league, winning both matches and going all the way to the Final of the league, falling at the end and succumbing to Fenerbahce Istanbul.
Interestingly will be the battle between the two opposites, Tijana Boskovic and Paola Egonu who, despite having faced each other on the international stage before, including the CEV EuroVolley 2021 Final, will rivals for the first time in a Champions League Final!