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Standing ovation celebrates Wlazly as Club Worlds reach climax

Mariusz Wlazly celebrates with teammates, though PGE Skra Belchatow bow out early at the 2018 FIVB Men's Club World Championship.
Plock, Poland, November 30, 2018 - Hosts PGE Skra Belchatow had already bowed out of the 2018 FIVB Men's Club World Championship early, but their last match in pool play, against Russia's Zenit Kazan, was still a key moment in the remarkable career of their legendary star captain Mariusz Wlazly.

FIVB Control Committee President Slobodan Milosevic presents Mariusz Wlazly with a photo collage of a brilliant career, ahead of the last match in pool play at the 2018 FIVB Men's Club World Championship.

Thursday was 15 years to the day since Wlazly, as a 20-year-old, played his first ever game for Skra on 29 November 2003 - a Polish League match against Jastrzebski Wegiel in which he came on off the bench.

Now at 35, Wlazly has already led Skra and the National Team of Poland to numerous successes.

In 2014 he was named MVP of the FIVB World Championship for his role in earning Poland the first of their back-to-back world titles.

And in this very competition of the Club World Championship, Wlazly is a seasoned veteran, having earned two silver medals and one bronze with Skra.

And that's not to mention his numerous other team and individual awards.

Mariusz Wlazly with his commemorative gifts as his PGE Skra Belchatow teammates spell out 'Legenda 2' ahead of the match against Zenit Kazan at the 2018 FIVB Men's Club World Championship.

Moment of truth for top four
Though without Skra and Wlazly, the 2018 Club World Championship resumes Saturday, as the top two teams of each pool travelled from Plock and Rzeszow to Czestochowa on Friday. Saturday's semifinals are followed by the medals matches on Sunday.

Semifinals Match Centres in Czestochowa:
• 17:30 local time (16:30 GMT): Asseco Resovia Rzeszow (POL) v Cucine Lube Civitanova (ITA)
• 20:30 local time (19:30 GMT): Diatecx Trentino (ITA) v Fakel Novy Urengoy (RUS)

Four-time world champions Trentino are right on track to claim an unprecedented fifth title - though they haven't done so since 2012 in Doha.

In fact there's not been an Italian world championship since then, and this year there's two of them in the all-European top four. Last year's runners-up Cucine Lube Civitanova are going for another try this year.

The highlight for the local fans, though, will be when Asseco Resovia Rzeszow take to the court on Saturday afternoon. Struggling in the domestic PlusLiga this year and languishing at the bottom of the table (which necessitated a change of coach and club president very recently), against all odds Resovia are amongst the best four clubs in the world.

Resovia fans can rejoice in the fact their team is amongst the top four in the world.

No Polish team has ever won a club world title, though Skra (twice) and Jastrzebski Wegiel (once) have been runners-up in the past.

Rounding up the semifinalist are Fakel Novy Urengoy, who now have the burden of trying to keep the title in Russia, after defending champions Zenit Kazan crashed out of the tournament early.

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