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Italian teams miss out on Women’s Champions League Final Four for first time in three decades

Russia's rookies Omichka OMSK REGION made the Playoffs 6 coming back strong and winning the golden set that followed their return game with Italy's Prosecco Doc-Imoco CONEGLIANO
Luxembourg, January 24, 2014 – Two teams from Turkey – VakifBank and Eczacibasi VitrA – plus another two from Russia – Dinamo KAZAN and Omichka OMSK REGION – compose, together with France’s RC CANNES and Switzerland’s Volero ZÜRICH, the draw for the Playoffs 6 of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women.

In about ten days these teams will re-start their quest for a spot in the Final Four Tournament scheduled for March 15-16 so as to join hosts Rabita BAKU. After RebecchiNMeccanica PIACENZA and Prosecco Doc-Imoco CONEGLIANO lost their respective matches to Volero ZÜRICH and Omichka OMSK REGION, all Italian teams are eliminated from the competition and for the first time since 1983 – back then the competition was known as Champions Cup – Italy won’t be represented in the Final Four Tournament.

The winners of this year’s Champions League will compete at the 2014 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship coming up through May 6-11 in Zurich.

The draw for the Playoffs 6 coming up the first and second week of February reads as follows:

Omichka OMSK REGION (RUS) vs. Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL (TUR)
Volero ZÜRICH (SUI) vs. Dinamo KAZAN (RUS)

Russia’s rookies Omichka OMSK REGION fought their way back after losing the first round of the Playoffs 12 in Italy and started their comeback by winning the return game with Prosecco Doc-Imoco CONEGLIANO in straight sets (25-20, 25-19, and 29-27) and then also the golden set that followed (15-10) to qualify to the Playoffs 6 and play there Turkey’s Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL. This is a terrific achievement for the team from Siberia’s second largest city that is making their first appearance in the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. “We played much better than we had done last week in Treviso while our opponents served really bad” said Omichka head coach Zoran Terzic. “We played with the right attitude and I always was confident that we would have won in the end. We have showed that we are a strong team and that we also can stand the pressure for we had to come back after losing last week in Italy. Now we will have a couple of very tough matches with Eczacibasi. We will play relaxed because I know we have good chances to make the Final Four. Anyway, since we are participating in the Champions League for the very first time this year, I think we already did a great job by claiming a spot for the Playoffs 6.”

Turkey’s Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL turned on Tuesday into the very first team to book their ticket to the Playoffs 6 of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women. Eczacibasi did so by claiming also the second round of their Playoffs 12 double-header with Poland’s champions Atom Trefl SOPOT, even though this time they dropped the first set before getting back on track to sweep the next three (16-25, 25-21, 25-21, and 25-20). Neslihan Demir top scored in the end with 23 points while US American Kimberly Hill paced Atom Trefl SOPOT in their losing effort with 16.

The winners of the 2011 and 2013 edition, VakifBank ISTANBUL cruised on Wednesday to another straight victory (25-13, 25-12, and 25-20) to outclass Azerbaijan’s Igtisadchi BAKU and claim a spot in the Playoffs 6 of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women. Team captain Gözde Sonsirma Kirdar top scored for the winning team with 15 points. “We really played a good game tonight. If we continue this way, I think we can keep on winning” she said. “We played excellent especially in blocking and defence” head coach Giovanni Guidetti commented after the match. “This victory comes from the contribution of all players and we are happy that this way we could make it to the next round.”

RC CANNES completed on Thursday the sensation they started last week edging once more Turkey’s standout Galatasaray Daikin ISTANBUL, this time in straight sets (25-19, 25-16, and 25-21), to claim the last ticket to the Playoffs 6 of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women. Their next stop will be again in Turkey as they are now set to play VakifBank ISTANBUL, the winners of the 2013 edition and reigning club world champions. “We are terribly sorry and very disappointed but from what I have seen tonight this is a fair result” commented the head coach of Galatasaray Daikin, Massimo Barbolini. “We simply did not find our way into the match while, on the other hand, RC CANNES has got many players with experience at this level. Our goal now is to finish among the top three in the Turkish national league so as to get the right to participate in the next edition of the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. Our club wants to and deserves to be there” he concluded.

On Wednesday night Dinamo KAZAN followed in the footsteps of Zenit – the other world class team from the capital city of Tatarstan – routing Dinamo MOSCOW in straight sets (25-15, 25-22, and 25-23) to make the Playoffs 6 of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women and play there Switzerland’s Volero ZÜRICH. Dinamo and Volero will be crossing their ways once more after they were drawn in the same preliminary Pool but this time there will be much more at stake, i.e. a ticket to the Final Four tournament in Baku. “Today we played our best match this season so far” commented Dinamo KAZAN mentor Rishat Gilyazutdinov. “My players showed a very good attitude, world-class Volleyball and played great in all fundamentals.”

Italy’s champions RebecchiNMeccanica PIACENZA caught a good start in their return game of the Playoffs 12 with Switzerland’s Volero ZÜRICH but they eventually lost – as they had done last week – in four sets (25-22, 18-25, 20-25, and 19-25). Actually Volero had already claimed their ticket to the Playoffs 6 after the third set for PIACENZA was no longer in the position to call for the golden set even if they had won the match. This means rookies PIACENZA – who had topped the charts in preliminary Pool B – are bidding farewell to the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women whereas Volero will continue their campaign and play in the next round Dinamo KAZAN.

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