Europe’s volleyball stars shine on imperial stage at Hofburg Palace
CEV President André Meyer together with the Volleyball stars awarded on Friday night at the 2014 European Volleyball Gala in Vienna |
Vienna, Austria, June 27, 2014 – The 2014
edition of the European Volleyball Gala was held on Friday night at the Hofburg
Palace in Vienna, marking a celebration of volleyball as well as its stars.
The gala had a muster of outstanding
personalities, who were awarded on the stage of the former imperial residence
in Austria’s capital city, in continuation of a tradition that was initiated
“Though people come and go, there must be a moment where you review the past
and award those who have left their mark on our sport playing or coaching at
the highest level for a number of years,” CEV President André Meyer said while
introducing the ceremony. “On the other hand, younger people are eager to
follow in their footsteps and therefore tonight we will also celebrate some
up-and-coming stars of our sport who, with their striking looks, skills and
personality, will be the best asset we can rely on in order to get more and
more youngsters involved in volleyball and beach volleyball.”
Nikolay Karpol (RUS) – Lifetime
Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to the development of
The most successful women’s volleyball coach of all times, Karpol was a
long-time head coach of the Soviet Union, and then of the Russian women’s
national team, winning Olympic gold in 1980 and 1988, before claiming another
three silver medals in 1992, 2000, and 2004.
Karpol was at the helm of the Soviet team that won gold at the 1990 World
Championship in China; he is an 8-time gold medallist from the European
Championships (1977, 1979, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2001). He has been the
head coach of Russia’s volleyball powerhouse Uralochka Ekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk)
for more than three decades, where he won the CEV Champions Cup eight times
(1981, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1994 and 1995).
Karpol was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2009. This year he made
the final of the CEV Volleyball Cup – Women where Uralochka lost to Turkey’s
Fenerbahce SK Istanbul.
“I have been coaching women’s teams for the past 45 years,” Karpol said. “Of
course I have many memories from my victories at the Olympics, World and
European Championships, but what makes me particularly proud is that all of the
players I have mentored got married and had kids.”
Stefanie Schwaiger (AUT) – The Most
Spectacular Beach Volleyball Player
The 27-year-old Stefanie Schwaiger was crowned Europe’s “Queen of the Beach”
before 8,000 ecstatic fans at last year’s European Championship Final in
Austria’s largest sandbox in Klagenfurt. Together with her sister Doris,
Stefanie has formed one of the strongest and most consistent European duos of
the past decade.
Only a few weeks ago Doris Schwaiger announced her intention to retire from
competitive sport thereby bringing the partnership with Stefanie to an end.
Doris and Stefanie kept their focus to win their last tournament together, the
CEV Baden Masters in the outskirts of Vienna. Stefanie has announced she will
continue her beach volleyball career with a new partner, with her ultimate goal
being to participate in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“I still haven’t made up my mind but I am definitely looking for a new partner
and of course one of my major goals for the future will be to deliver a strong
performance at next year’s European Championship Final in Klagenfurt,” Stefanie
György Grozer (GER) – The Most
Spectacular Volleyball Player – Men
The son of György Grozer Sr., a former member of Hungary’s national team and a
leading figure in Germany’s Bundesliga in the 90s, Grozer debuted in the
Champions League playing for VfB Friedrichshafen, before moving to Asseco
Resovia Rzeszow and more recently to Belogorie Belgorod with whom he won the
2014 edition of the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League.
Grozer is one of the world’s most powerful players, and his serve can reach a
speed of around 130kph. With arms like tree trunks, Grozer is also one of the
players with the highest spike reach in the world at 3.74m. Last May, he won
gold at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship in Brazil, thereby
adding yet another title to his personal resume.
“We had a terrific season and finally my
dream of winning the Champions League came true with Belogorie,” Grozer said.
“Sometimes people wonder about the source of my power. Well, I’d say it comes
from the heart, and this means it comes from my passion for volleyball. As for
the remainder of the season and the coming years, I would really like to win a
medal with my national team. Hopefully we can make it to the podium already
later this summer as we compete at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship
Regina Moroz (RUS) – The Most
Spectacular Volleyball Player – Women
The 26-year old Regina Moroz has been playing for Russian volleyball
heavyweight Dinamo Kazan since the 2009 season. She is a four-time national
champion (2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014), and a two-time winner of the Russian Cup
(2010, 2012). She just had a fabulous season with the team from the capital
city of Tatarstan, winning Russia’s first title in the CEV DenizBank Volleyball
Champions League and FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship where she
was nominated for the All Star Team as one of its two middle-blockers.
Moroz was one of the best blockers in the last edition of the CEV DenizBank
Volleyball Champions League, registering 30 blocks in 11 matches. The 1.88m
tall middle-blocker born in Voronezh is well-known among volleyball fans for
her striking looks and for the glasses that she always wears to protect her
“We had a perfect season with Dinamo Kazan because our collective was very
strong and we had plenty of star players on our roster,” she said by accepting
the award. “Our coach was good too, and the staff there in Kazan is very
supportive as well. Next year I will be playing in Moscow for Dinamo, and I
hope I can continue on the same winning path.”
Nikola Grbic (SRB) – The Ultimate
Volleyball Team Leader – Men
The oldest player competing in the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions
League together with Italy’s Samuele Papi, 40-year-old Nikola Grbic transferred
to Russia shortly before the start of the 2013/2014 season after spending his
entire professional career in Italy.
An Olympic champion (2000) and European champion (2001) as well as a multiple
medallist from the European Championships, World Championships and the FIVB Volleyball
World League, Grbic is considered by many, as the best setter of his generation
and one of the best players ever in his role.
Grbic made once more the Final Four of the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions
League this year but had to be content with fourth place while marshalling
Zenit Kazan. He retired from the Serbian national team after the 2010 FIVB
Volleyball Men’s World Championship held in Italy where he won bronze.
The youngest of the Grbic brothers recently announced he would stop playing to
take up a coaching job in Italy and will be at the helm of rookie Sir Safety Perugia
in the 2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League.
“Actually I was not that sure I wanted to stop,” Grbic admitted. “But the
President of my Federation, Aleksandar Boricic, called me shortly after we had
won the Russian national league asking me to take up that coaching job. I could
not refuse that offer though. I know that it will be much more difficult to be
a coach than to play. I just hope I can guide my players in the right way and
all together we can achieve some good results.”
Neslihan Demir (TUR) – The Ultimate
Volleyball Team Leader – Women
The 30-year-old opposite of Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul and captain of the
Turkish national team is certainly the biggest star in the history of Turkish
Volleyball. She was named Turkey’s Sportsperson of Year in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
She represented her country as the flag-bearer at the London 2012 Olympic Games
At age 19, she was the leading player in the Turkish team that won the silver
medal at the 2003 European Championship. She also won continental bronze at the
2011 edition of the competition, as well as bronze from the 2012 FIVB World
At club level, Neslihan won the 2004 Top Teams Cup with VakifBank Istanbul and
bronze from the 2007 Champions League with her Spanish team Spar Tenerife
Marichal. From 2003 through 2014 she has won numerous individual awards for
Best Spiker, Best Server, Best Scorer and Most Valuable Player from different
competitions, including Best Scorer of the 2006 and the 2010 World
Championships and, most recently, the Best Spiker of the 2014 CEV DenizBank
Volleyball Champions League.
Her charismatic presence both on and off the court, as well as her tremendous
contribution to the team’s performance are something both her teammates and her
opponents look up to.
“That leadership is not something you can learn, it comes from inside, from
your heart, and it drives you to sacrifice yourself for your teammates,” Demir
said. “I am very happy with this prize though I was hoping to win the one for
the newcomer of the year.”
Emiliya Nikolova (BUL) – The
Volleyball Champions League Newcomer of the Year
The talented Bulgarian international is only 22 years old, but has already
played in four different domestic leagues. She started her professional career
back in 2007 as a player of Bulgaria’s Slaviya Sofia and moved on through clubs
from Italy, Romania and Turkey.
In 2011 she won both the championship gold and the national cup of Romania with
2004 Tomis Constanta. She made her Champions League debut in the 2014 edition
of the competition with Italy’s Prosecco Doc-Imoco Conegliano. The young
opposite was the main attacking weapon coach Marco Gaspari used in leading the
team to both the Champions League playoff stage and to the semi-finals of the
In only seven Champions League matches she scored 137 points which accounts for
about 20 points per match. Emiliya has also been an essential part of the
starting line-up of Bulgarian national team for several years now, having won
European League silver in 2010 and bronze in 2011.
“I am amazed, that was my first season in this competition and I got the
prize,” said an emotional Emiliya. “Yes, I have one volleyball idol and I am
lucky enough that tonight she is in this room and sitting next to me – Neslihan
Mira Golubovic (SRB) – Volleyball
Born on October 15, 1976 in Metkovic (Yugoslavia, now Croatia), Mira Golubovic
has played for clubs from Yugoslavia, Romania, Italy, Japan, Spain, Russia,
Azerbaijan and, most recently, Switzerland, and has won numerous domestic
championship titles and national cups.
The 37-year-old captain of Volero Zurich announced her retirement after the
2014 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship in Zurich, where her team
finished fourth. During this past season, Golubovic also successfully captained
Volero to the Playoffs 6 of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League
and to a golden double in Switzerland.
Before joining Volero, the former Serbia and Montenegro national team middle
blocker spent three seasons with Azerbaijan’s Rabita Baku winning gold from the
2011 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship and silver from the 2012
Back in 2000, Golubovic also won the CEV Champions Cup with Italy’s
Foppapedretti Bergamo, and in 2011 and 2013 reached the silver medals in the
CEV Volleyball Champions League with Rabita.
“It’s not an easy decision to stop playing
but I believe this was the right moment,” she said. “I am very grateful for
everything that I could experience throughout my long career. If I have to
inspire a young kid and convince him to take up the sport, I would just
recommend to enjoy every single moment, and to love the sport from the very
deep of his heart as I did on every single day of my career.”
Spot on beach volleyball
Before the 2014 edition of the European Volleyball Gala drew to a close, it was
time to spark a real beach volleyball fever among the hundreds of guests in
attendance at the Hofburg Palace.
Austria’s largest sandbox in Klagenfurt will
indeed – as it was already announced a few weeks ago – re-open its doors to
Europe’s beach volleyball elite in 2015. After a record-breaking 2013 European
Championship Final which was visited by more than 100,000 fans, the capital
city of Carinthia will be playing host also to the 2015 edition where the next
kings and queens of the beach will be crowned.
“We already expect another terrific beach volleyball party as our fans are
accustomed to,” the President of the Austrian Volleyball Federation, Peter
Kleinmann, said. “And we hope to be able to break the terrific records we set
last year. Records are set to be broken, that’s what they are there for. This
will be our fourth European Championship in five years, something which
confirms the leading role that Austria plays in Europe when it comes to the
organisation of top volleyball and beach volleyball events.”