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Taubate take first prize of 2017 in Brazil in star-studded final

Funivc Taubate celebrate first title of 2017 in Brazil, after winning the Cup with a 3-0 sweep of Sesi Sao Paulo in the final.
Lausanne, Switzerland, January 22, 2017 - Funvic Taubate claimed the first title of the year in Brazil, when they thrashed Sesi Sao Paulo 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 30-28) in the final of the men's Banco do Brasil Cup this weekend in Campinas. It was the second cup title in their history, after that of 2015.

"We played two great games, in the semifinals and in the final," said Eder Carbonera, one of the many participating Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists to thrill the crowd, after the game. "It was practically perfect, and everyone is to be congratulated!"

Rio 2016 MVP Serginho tried to rouse the Sesi fans in the third set with some nifty defending, but Taubate held on to survive three set balls and finish the game with an ace by Otavio Pinto, as Sesi paid dearly for their 18 unforced errors.

"I tried to forget everything that was happening and the score and I focused on that moment to deliver a good serve," said the Taubate middle blocker after scoring the winning point.

A couple of days earlier defending cup holders and reigning Brazil, South America and FIVB club world champions Sada Cruzeiro had crashed out of the competition after an incredible edge-of-seat semifinal in which they blew a two-set lead to fall 3-2 (23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 17-15) to Sesi Sao Paulo and see their 28-match winning streak come to an end. In the other semifinal Taubate had knocked out Final Four hosts Brasil Kirin 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-19).

Lube remain on top in Italy
Cucine Lube Civitanova strengthened their position at the top of the table in the Italian men's A1 UnipolSai Superleague with a 3-1 (25-15, 25-18, 23-25, 25-13) win Sunday night. Some 3,000 fans at the Eurosuole Forum who watched USA's Micah Christenson put up a great show for Lube, earning the match MVP award.

But in the match of the day in Italy, defending champions Azimut Modena outlasted Sir Safety Conad Perugia 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-11), with top scorer Luca Vettori on 22 points for Modena earning the MVP award of the game and with Aaron Russell scoring 21 for Perugia.

And in Trento, Slovenia's Tine Urnaut scored 11 points and Belgium's Simon van de Voorde put up an impenetrable block for five stuffs leading Diatec Trentino in their 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-22) sweep of Bunge Ravenna, to catch up with Perugia on 47 points from 20 matches for second place.

Zenit cruise towards end of regular season
In Russia, Wilfredo Leon scored 18 points and led defending champions Zenit Kazan yet another solid win - their 16th in as many games - 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-18) over Nova Novokuybyshevsk. With Maxim Mikhailov adding another 13, the win came despite the absence of Matt Anderson who had suffered an ankle injury midweek in the European Champions League and remained on the bench as a precautionary measure.

But the race for second place in the standings and a direct ticket to the playoffs is heating up, after Dinamo Moscow beat Lokomotiv Novosibirsk 3-1 (25-22, 26-24, 26-28, 25-17) in the Russian capital Sunday evening to reclaim second place. Konstantin Bakun with 19 points led Dinamo in the closely contested match, with Yuri Berezhko adding 13 (6 blocks) and Aleksandr Markin 12. Dinamo now enjoy a 13-3 record, on par with Lokomotiv but on 38 points to 34. Zenit, the reigning European champions and silver medallists in last year's FIVB Club World Championship, have broken away on a 16-0 record.

With 10 rounds still to play in the regular season, the top two teams advance directly to the Final Six. The other four spots will be contested by teams ranked 3rd to 10th.

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