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Top form for favourites in the first day of FIVB Men’s Club World Championship

Guaynabo Mets failed to stop Wallace as he became the main player for Sada Cruzeiro's victory
Belo Horizonte, Brazil, May 5, 2014 – Sada Cruzeiro from Brazil took a strong first step on the road to defend their FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship crown on home soil, after a solid display over Puerto Rico’s Guaynabo Mets. Prior to that, Argentina’s UPCN proved to be more experienced than Esperance Tunis and Al-Rayyan, with its many stars, provided a tough defeat to Italy’s Trentino.

For the local team at Mineirinho Arena, it was a matter of consistency over Guaynabo Mets. Cruzeiro earned a well-deserved 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-19) win with keeping a low rate of errors and spiking hard and fast. Wallace De Souza was the best player with 13 points, taking a huge lead over all other scorers.

According to Sada Cruzeiro coach Marcelo Méndez, “it was a logical start”. The Argentinean showed to be pleased with the output of his team: “We were able to win the first game, something always important, and now we can start thinking on the next matches, which will be harder”.

Earlier, the first match in Belo Horizonte featured Argentinean four-time champion UPCN and a struggling team of Esperance Tunis, which improved during the game but finally had to accept defeat against the South Americans, in three sets 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 27-25). Olympian Theo Lopes, one of the main weapons in UPCN, was the most prolific scorer with 16 points.

“In the third set, they got better and we had to keep doing well to close the match”, admitted UPCN’s captain Demián González. “We knew that we had to win this first match, to have more chances of reaching the semifinals”, he added.

After the win, UPCN, who placed four at the last Men’s Club World Championship in Betim, will have a day-off on Tuesday, while Esperance Tunis has to take on super-powered Al-Rayyan from Qatar.

Al-Rayyan, precisely, became the other Pool B winner in the second game of the day. The Asian Wildcard outlasted the other guest of the tournament, Italy’s Trentino, in a hard-fought battle. Although Qatar’s team only needed three sets for the victory, it was a close contest as they prevailed with narrow scores 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-22).

Both main weapons from Al-Rayyan were from a historical volleyball school as Cuba: middle-blocker Robertlandy Simón and opposite player Michael Sánchez scored 39 points together, to darken Trentino’s horizon in Brazil. Now the Italians must defeat UPCN on Wednesday to keep alive their hopes of a medal.

Trentino’s captain Emanuele Birarelli stressed that Simón was the key player for Al-Rayyan. “He is currently the best middle-blocker of the entire world. He made 17 points out of 25 spikes. That's not normal in a three-setter”, explained. After that, the Italian focused on what’s next: “We will improve; we must do it, so we'll try our best. We have to win against UPCN now.”

For Day 2 at Mineirinho Arena, the first scheduled game will be Esperance Tunis v Al-Rayyan at 14:00 (local), being the only Pool B match on Tuesday. Afterwards, Belogorie Belgorod from Russia will begin his journey against Guaynabo Mets at 17:00, while home team Sada Cruzeiro and Iran’s Matin Varamin will close the day at 20:00.

2014 Men's Club World Championship Performances

Top Scoring Performances
20 - Robertlandy Simón Aties of Al-Rayyan v Trentino (May 5)
19 - Michael Sánchez Bozhulev of Al-Rayyan v Trentino (May 5)
16 - Theo Lopes of UPCN v Esperance Tunis (May 5)

Top Blocking Performances
4 - Wallace De Souza of Sada Cruzeiro v Guaynabo Mets (May 5)
3 - Martín Ramos of UPCN v Esperance Tunis (May 5)
3 - Michael Sánchez Bozhulev of Al-Rayyan v Trentino (May 5)

Top Blocking Performances by Team
10 - Sada Cruzeiro v Guaynabo Mets (May 5)
9 - UPCN v Esperance Tunis (May 5)
9 - Al-Rayyan v Trentino (May 5)

Top Serving Performances
2 - José Santos Junior of UPCN v Esperance Tunis (May 5)

Top Serving Performances by Team
5 - UPCN v Esperance Tunis (May 5)

Highest Scorers by day
20 - Robertlandy Simón Aties of Al-Rayyan v Trentino (day 1, May 5)

Highest Set Score
27-25 - UPCN v Esperance Tunis (3rd set, May 5)

Highest Scoring Matches
144 - Al-Rayyan def Trentino 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-22) day 1, May 5

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