Lausanne, Switzerland, March 21, 2014 – In just a few days yet another club will join the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship line up as Ankara, Turkey gets set to host the Final Four of the 2014 CEV Denizbank Volleyball Champions League this weekend.
With last year’s winners Lokomotiv Novosibirsk failing to even make the Playoffs 12 this year, four European clubs – Halkbank Ankara, Jastrzebski Wegiel, Belogorie Belgorod, Zenit Kazan – are in the race for the top prize this weekend. The winner will take the title of European champion as well as a ticket to the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship from May 6 to 11 in Brazil.
Host team Halkbank Ankara are hoping to do
the home crowd proud and their coach Radostin Stoytchev is determined to help
them get there. This weekend he will be vying for his fourth title in Europe’s
elite competition after seizing three consecutive championships – from 2009
through to 2011 – as coach of Italy’s Trentino Volley.
The Bulgarian-born Stoytchev, who is now 44, has a strong history of success in the competition having participated in the CEV Volleyball Champions League seven times, bringing home three titles to date.
“I know the ambiance and the atmosphere of a Final Four from my previous experiences,” said Stoytchev. ”We always approached it knowing that we can do it better than anyone else,” added the Bulgarian mentor. “Every time I get to feel the same emotions but I think this is quite normal. It is important that on Saturday, by the time we play Jastrzebski Wegiel in the semis, we display our full potential.”
The first semi-final match of the weekend will see two Russian heavyweights – Zenit Kazan and Belogorie Belgorod – play each other at 14:00 local time while hosts Halkbank will play Poland’s Jastrzebski Wegiel in the semi-final match on Saturday at 17:00 local time.
It is destined to be a hard fought battle for the title with such a star line up of teams taking part in the Final Four tournament this year.
Along with the hosts, Belgorod will be looking to claim back some of its former glory having won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004. For this year’s Final Four edition the reigning Russian national champions are counting on their captain and 2012 Olympic champion Taras Khtey to take them to victory.
Zenit Kazan’s “Gladiators” – as they are
dubbed by their fans – are on the lookout for another title after topping the
charts in 2008 and 2012. They will be extra motivated to so after their female
compatriots Dinamo won the women’s title last weekend in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Should they edge past the competition in Ankara, they would complete an
unprecedented sweep for the capital city of Turkey. Last but not least, Jastrzebski
Wegiel will be hoping to leave their mark on their competition in only their second
appearance in a Final Four.
The FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship for men and women will be the first FIVB volleyball events of the year.
With the European qualification tournaments complete, all eyes will turn to Africa to see who will represent the continent in the World Championship event.
Manila will host the 2014 Men’s Asian Club Championship, April 8 to 16, where one of the 18 participating teams will also secure a ticket to the FIVB Men’s Club World Championship. NORCECA will appoint one team, with the other two vacancies decided jointly by the FIVB and organiser.
So far, Brazil’s Sada Cruzeiro is qualified for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship along with UPCN of Argentina, the runner-up of South American Men's Club Championship.
The FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship begins a day before the women’s event, which will take place from May 7 to 11 in Zurich, Switzerland.
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