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Pre-favourite teams move on to Playoffs 12 in CEV Champions League

40-year old Volleyball legend Nikola Grbic anchored Zenit Kazan to a 3-1 away victory over archrivals Lokomotiv Novosibirsk to eliminate the winners of the 2013 edition from the race for a spot in the Playoffs 12 of the CEV Champions League
Luxembourg, December 13, 2013 – A few teams booked this week their ticket to the Playoffs 12 of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League after completion of the fifth round in the prelims. The remaining spots for the second stage of Europe’s elite club competition will be assigned next week as the last round is coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday for women and men respectively before the much awaited Drawing of Lots for the Playoffs 12 follows on Thursday morning at 11:30 am CET.

Just before the DOL, CEV President André Meyer will also announce the organizers of the Final Four tournaments coming up in March and where the next kings and queens of European Volleyball will be crowned.

The breaking news came on Wednesday as the winners of the 2013 edition, Russia’s Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK, lost 1:3 their home game with arch-rivals Zenit KAZAN to bid farewell to the competition and miss out on an opportunity to retain the title they had won last March in Omsk. Another medallist from last year, Italy’s Unendo Yamamay BUSTO ARSIZIO, could not avoid another – their fifth straight – setback in the prelims and is also out of contention for a spot in the Playoffs 12 of the women’s competition.

Three teams have an immaculate record – and maximum 15 points – after five rounds of the men’s League Round are complete. Russia’s Belogorie BELGOROD still has to drop a set and showed they are a major force to be reckoned with this year as they routed also Greece’s champions Olympiacos PIRAEUS in straight sets to book first place in Pool B as well as a ticket to the Playoffs 12. A similar feat was achieved also by three-time champions Diatec TRENTINO of Italy that routed Swiss rookies Energy Investments LUGANO to cement their leadership in Pool D while Belgium’s Knack ROESELARE does not stop to surprise as they also cruised to their fifth straight victory by edging Turkey’s still winless underdogs Galatasaray FXTCR ISTANBUL.

As they beat TOURS VB in straight sets on Thursday night, Italy’s vice champions Copra Elior PIACENZA also secured first place in Pool A as well as a ticket to the next stage while the battle is still open in all other Pools. Turkey’s Halkbank ANKARA was surprisingly edged by Romania’s Tomis CONSTANTA in the fifth round, so the star-studded team mentored by Radostin Stoytchev will travel to Poland and play JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel there next week to claim their pass to the next phase. In Pool C there are still three teams – PARIS Volley, Asseco Resovia RZESZOW, and Budvanska Rivijera BUDVA – vying for the Playoffs 12 while Zenit KAZAN and Lube Banca Marche MACERATA made sure they will continue their journey but next week will be going for another “clash of the titans” in the capital city of Tatarstan to try to finish top of the charts in Pool E.

In the women’s competition 11 teams have arithmetically claimed their qualification to the Playoffs 12: Rabita BAKU and Omichka OMSK REGION from Pool A; Dinamo MOSCOW and RebecchiNMeccanica PIACENZA from Pool B; VakifBank ISTANBUL (Pool C); Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL and RC CANNES (Pool D), Galatasaray Daikin ISTANBUL and Prosecco Doc-Imoco CONEGLIANO from Pool E plus Dinamo KAZAN and Volero ZÜRICH from Pool F. Poland’s Atom Trefl SOPOT will be hosting next week Romania’s Dinamo Romprest BUCURESTI for the last round of the prelims and will have to take at least one set from that game to make the next round. Actually also the third-ranked team with the best score will continue its campaign in the Playoffs 12 replacing the organizers of the Final Four; so far Azeryol BAKU with seven points is the “hottest” contender for this supplementary spot, but Dinamo Romprest BUCURESTI and Agel PROSTEJOV as well as Igtisadchi BAKU may be a factor as well.

There are four teams with an immaculate record so far in the competition as Rabita, VakifBank, Eczacibasi VitrA and Dinamo KAZAN all have swept five consecutive matches, with the very best record belonging to Eczacibasi for the players from Turkey’s megalopolis have not lost a set since the start of the prelims.

For further information visit www.cev.lu

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