International “family” makes history for Russia at Men's Club World Championship
“We were delighted, we won this tournament for our country,” said coach Gennady Shipulin. “We wanted to make the people back home happy and proud.”
The Belogorie squad can be particularly proud of becoming the first team from volleyball power Russia to win the FIVB Men’s Club World Championship on the tournament’s 10th anniversary. Zenit Kazan was third in 2009 and 2011, while CSKA Moscow finished runners-up in 1989, back in the days of the Soviet Union – a feat repeated last year by Lokomotiv Novosibirsk.
The historic success was Belgorod’s fourth title of the season, after previously winning the Russian Cup, the Russian Supercup and the European Champions League. The latest triumph came at the same venue, at which the Russian national team had celebrated its first victory in the FIVB Volleyball World League back in 2002 – with the same coach, Gennady Shipulin.
“I have already said, it is my city,” said the overjoyed coach of the winning team. “I had a great win in the World League 12 years ago, and now we have this title for Russia. This is our lucky place, here in Brazil.”
However, the European Champions League winners’ latest triumph had little to do with luck and far more to do with an outstanding team performance. They defeated defending champions and hosts Sada Cruzeiro 3-1 en route to the title – a scoreline they repeated against Argentina’s UPCN, who went on to finish third. The star line-up of Qatar’s Al-Rayyan were then also dispatched 3-1 in the final.
Five wins in five days is only possible for a team in peak physical condition and with a fantastic team spirit. The latter was ultimately the secret to Belgorod’s success.
“We are a great team, we are a family,” said Shipulin.
An international family, as Italian setter Dragan Travica and German spiker György Grozer were amongst the lynchpins of the successful team.
“I think that was the team’s heart, we played like a team,“ said Grozer. “This tournament had a very high level and that made things difficult for us, but like I said, we are a team. We are very good friends, we worked very hard and thus we achieved this victory.”
Dmitriy Muserskiy also proved to be a guarantee of success. Together with Grozer, he contributed 18 points towards the team’s triumph and was ultimately named MVP – an accolade he is becoming rather accustomed to receiving. And then there was Belgorod institution Sergey Tetyukhin, who was named Best Outside Spiker. Incidentally, the 38-year-old was also a member of the 2002 Russian national team that won the World League for the first time in Belo Horizonte under coach Shipulin.
A shower of confetti rained down upon these stars of the international volleyball scene after their success. Overjoyed, they furiously took selfies of themselves, like small children. The fact that they had also just won $200,000 in prize money was almost forgotten in the celebrations.
Russia’s maiden success was not the only reason the 10th anniversary of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship was a historic event. Qatar’s Al-Rayyan became the first team from that region ever to make it onto the podium at the competition for the best club teams in the world. The team had signed international stars Matey Kaziyski, Rafael de Oliveira, Michael Sanchez and Robertlandy Simon, specifically to strengthen its squad for the showdown between the world’s top club teams – and the investment paid off.
Al-Rayyan ended the hosts’ dreams of a successful title defence in the semifinals, only losing out to Belgorod in the final. Four players subsequently received individual awards.
“This is a historical achievement for Qatar volleyball and also for the entire region,” said coach Igor Aburtina. “Belogorie were just too good for us. They’re the strongest team in the world right now.”
UPCN also achieved a first, defeating Sada Cruzeiro 3-2 in the third and fourth place playoff to become the first club from Argentina to take its place on the podium at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship.
“I still can't believe this" said captain Demián González.
Another shock came when record winners Trentino, who had been given a wildcard entry into the tournament, were knocked out in the preliminary round. They had won the title four times in a row between 2009 and 2012 – led at the time by Kaziyski, who was in action this year for Al-Rayyan.
In 2013, the title went to a team outside of Europe for the first time, in the form of Sada Cruzeiro. Belogorie Belgorod’s latest victory brings the title back to Europe – with nine victories, the most successful continent in the history of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship.