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Russian teams shine in first round of Champions League Playoffs 6

Belogorie triple block starring Georg Grozer, Dmitriy Muserskiy, and Sergey Tetyukhin was too much to stand also for Trentino and Italy's national team rising star Filippo Lanza

Luxembourg, February 7, 2014 - Russia’s Zenit KAZAN and Belogorie BELGOROD plus JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel of Poland claimed this week the first round of the Playoffs 6 in the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men thereby making one step forward on their way to the Final Four Tournament coming up through March 22-23 in Ankara, Turkey.

Italy’s Copra Elior PIACENZA and Diatec TRENTINO were downed in straight sets by the Russian giants and should they miss on a spot in the Finals, this would be the first time since 2005 Italy is not represented in the final act of Europe’s elite club competition.

The winner of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League will represent Europe at the 2014 FIVB Men's Club World Championship which is due to take place through May 6-11 in Betim, Brazil.

After dominating the scene in the Final Six of the Russian Cup last week, Belogorie prolonged their winning streak also in the Playoffs 6 where they easily routed Italy’s champions and CL three-time winners Diatec TRENTINO in straight sets 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-18). TRENTINO had travelled to Russia without their Bulgarian-born opposite Tsvetan Sokolov who had suffered an injury during the last match of the national league that Diatec lost 3-0 to their arch-rivals of Lube Banca Marche MACERATA. This way the team around head coach Roberto Serniotti did really not stand a chance to stop the Russian machine and Belogorie needs now to take only another two sets next week in Italy to book their spot in the Final Four Tournament.
“We really wanted to seize the night and make a step forward on our way to the Final Four” said Belogorie head coach Gennady Shipulin.

“It is never that easy to play a team like Belogorie but this turns into a mission impossible when they perform as strong as they did tonight” commented TRENTINO head coach Roberto Serniotti.

JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel claimed on Wednesday the first round of the Polish derby with Asseco Resovia RZESZOW delighting more than 3,000 home fans with a straight victory 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) to move closer to a spot in the Final Four Tournament. The last Final Four appearance for the team from Upper Silesia dates back to 2011 as they ended their campaign in fourth place by the time the last act of the competition was held in Bolzano, Italy.

“We are very happy with our performance tonight but we still have to win also the second game next week in Rzeszow” commented JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel team captain Michal Lasko. “We only made a first step on our way to the Final Four” added head coach Lorenzo Bernardi.

“We shall not forget what happened in the Italian derby opposing PIACENZA to MACERATA in the Playoffs 12 where Copra Elior lost the first game in straight sets but then came back strong winning the return match as well as the golden set. Next week we must play with glowing hearts and a cold mind.”

Zenit KAZAN confirmed once more the status of the Russian teams as major forces to be reckoned with as the players from the capital city of Tatarstan downed Italy’s Copra Elior PIACENZA in straight sets (25-23, 25-22, and 25-22) in the first round of the Playoffs 6. This also turned into the first home defeat for Italy’s vice champions since February 24, 2013. The hosts were evidently side-lined by the absence of their team captain Hristo Zlatanov while another pillar of their roster, Alessandro Fei, joined the game but was soon replaced by Luca Tencati due to illness.

“Even though we won tonight we have to keep our feet on the ground” said Russian mentor Vladimir Alekno. “We will play the return game at home but this does not mean that we have already booked our ticket to the Final Four Tournament. We still have to wait for the second game which is the one that counts the most.”

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