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Clubs hit Playoffs as Leagues go down to the wire

Minas Tenis Clube wrapped up the Regular Season in Brazil's Superleague top of the table and enter the Playoffs in pole position.
Lausanne, Switzerland, March 18, 2019 - As domestic and international club leagues enter their playoffs phases across the globe, the world's volleyball superstars continue to thrill fans in a preview of what's to follow later this year when they join their National Teams for a highly anticipated FIVB season which begins in May with the Volleyball Nations League.

With 13 points from Bruna Honorio plus 11 more from Gabi Guimaraes and 10 from Natalia Pereira, Itambe / Minas Tenis Clube wrapped up the Regular Season in Brazil's Women's Superleague in first place after a 3-0 (25-21, 25-10, 25-16) on the road over Curitiba Volei.

Starting the Playoffs tomorrow in pole position, Minas Tenis Clube meet Curutiba again in the best-of-three quarterfinals, which also feature Dentil / Praia Clube of Uberlandia v. Fluminense of Rio de Janeiro, Hinonde Barueri v. Osasco / Audax and Sesc Rio de Janeiro v Sesi Volei Bauru.

• Elsewhere, The Playoffs have begun in Turkey's Women's Superleague, with the favourites all emerging victorious in the first of the four best-of-three quarterfinals. Kubra Akman and Ebrar Karakurt shared top scoring honours with 12 points each and China's Zhu Ting added 11 more in VakifBank Istanbul's 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 26-24) over Nilufer Beleidyespor.
• Meanwhile, Cuba's Melissa Vargas with 18 points led Fenerbahce Opet to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 28-26) sweep of Turk Hava Yollari and Hande Baladin starred in Galatasaray's win over Besiktas 3-1 (22-25, 25-15, 25-15, 27-25) with 23 points. Regular Season leaders Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul don't play until 28 March, when they face Kameroglu.
• However, Eczacibasi had started their European Champions League quarterfinals campaign with a convincing 3-0 (25-21, 27-25, 25-22) sweep of Italy's Imoco Volley Conegliano on the road midweek, with Serbia's Tijana Boskovic socring 25 points and Korea's Kim Yoen-Koung adding 14.
• In other Champions League action midweek, Nataliya Goncharova scored 26 points and Irina Fetisova another 19 as Dinamo Moscow narrowly defeated VakifBank 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 25-23, 21-25, 15-13), despite 26 points from the Netherland's Lonneke Sloetjes and 24 from Zhu.
• Led by Paola Egonu's 33 points Igor Gorgonzola Novara beat Allianz MTV Stuttgart 3-1 (25-19, 26-24, 19-25, 25-20) in Germany, and Fenerbahce downed Savino del Bene Scandicci 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21) in Italy with 21 points each from Vargas and Mexico's Samantha Bricio to wrap up the European Champions League action.

• In men's midweek European Champions League action, three teams scored five-set away wins: Serbia's Aleksandar Atanasijevic socred 21 points and Filippo Lanza added 18 as Sir Colussi Sicoma Perugia edged Chaumont VB 52 HM 3-2 (25-21, 29-31, 17-25, 25-19, 16-14); Maxim Mikhaylov's 27 points and Matt Anderson's 19 pushed defending champions Zenit Kazan past Trefl Gdansk 3-2 (25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13); and 23 points by Bulgaria's Tsvetan Sokolov plus 22 from Osmany Juantorena helped Cucine Lube Civitanova edge Dinamo Moscow 3-2 (25-10, 23-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-13).
Only PGE Skra Belchatow had it comparatively easier, as Iran's Milad Ebadipour with 18 points led them to a 3-1 (25-18, 13-25, 25-22, 25-18) home win over Zenit Saint Petersburg.
In Brazil's Superleague, Alan Souza scored 19 points and led Sesi Sao Paulo to a 3-0 (25-16, 30-28, 25-21) over Sada Cruzeiro Contagem, to finish the Regular Season at the top of the table. Sesi now meet Volei UM Itapetininga while Sada Cruzeiro face Copel Telecom Maringa Volei when the best-of-three quarterfinals open next weekend. Sesc Rio de Janeiro meet Fiat / Minas Tenis Clube and Funvic Taubate play Volei Renata in the other two pairings.
In Italy's Serie A, Cuban-born Wilfredo Leon scored 21 points as Perugia beat Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora 3-1 (20-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-12) to retain the top position in the table. Itas Trentino are still in second place after thrashing Azimut Leo Shoes Modena 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-22) on the road, with Serbia's Uros Kovacevic scoring 15 points and USA's Aaron Russell 14.

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