Jordan Larson Leads Stacked Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul Into Fourth Round

After three rounds of qualification, the most exciting part of the 2019 CEV Women’s Champions League tournament is poised to begin. 

The first leg of the group of stage kicks off on Tuesday, November 20, and lasts until Thursday, November 22, with all 20 teams competing. Every team will be motivated to play well, as these matches will set the tone for the five remaining legs of group stage, which runs through February. Only the top eight teams advance out of the group stage and into the quarterfinals in March 2019.

Check out the schedule below and keep reading for a few storylines you’re going to want to keep an eye on this week.


Nov. 20

Hameenlinna @ Dinamo Kazan, 10 AM CT (Pool B)

Maritza Plovdiv @ Beziers VB, 1 PM CT (Pool A)

SSC Palmberg Scherwin @ LKS Commercecon Lodz, 1:30 PM CT (Pool D)

Nov. 21

Fenerbahce SK Istanbul @ Dinamo Moscow, 10 AM CT (Pool E)

Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg @ Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul, 10:30 AM CT (Pool B) 

Minchanka Minsk @ RC Cannes, 1 PM CT (Pool C)

Savino Del Bene Scandicci @ Imoco Volley Conegliano, 1:30 PM CT (Pool D)

Nov. 22

Allianz MTV Stuttgart @ VakifBank Istanbul, 10 AM CT (Pool A)

CSM Bucuresti @ Chemik Police, 11 AM CT (Pool E)

Budowlani Lodz @ Igor Gorgonzola Novara, 1:30 PM CT (Pool C)

Americans Go Head-to-Head in Two Matches

Wednesday’s match between Scandicci and Imoco Volley and Thursday’s pitting Allianz MTV Stuttgart against VakifBank Istanbul will both feature Americans on both sides of the net. 

Annie Mitchem, a University of Hawaii grad, is with Scandicci in just her second professional season, while Imoco Volley features veteran outside hitters Kim Hill and Megan Easy. Both teams compete in Italy’s SuperLega, and Imoco is undefeated so far in league play, while Scandicci has lost just once and is fourth in the standings. The two teams have not yet played in SuperLega competition.

Five Americans will take the floor for Allianz MTV Stuttgart, which advanced into the group stage by defeating CSM Volei Alba Blaj in the third round. Paige Tapp and Krystal Rivers have played big roles for Stuttgart, contributing 18 and 14 points, respectively in the final third-round matchup. The roster also includes Americans Sarah Wilhite Parsons, Madi Bugg, and Molly McCage. 

Stuttgart’s first group stage opponent VakifBank Istanbul features outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, who played libero all summer for the U.S. women. 

SuperLega Leaders Face Qualifier Squad

Igor Gorgonzola Novara has jumped out to a quick 5-0 start in SuperLega competition. Not only does this squad have Americans Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, the Volleyball Nations League MVP, and four-time All-American setter Lauren Carlini, but also Netherlands star outside hitter Celeste Plak and World Championships leading scorer Paola Egonu of Italy. 

Novara’s opponent on Thursday is Budowlani Lodz, which won both its second round matches over Hungarian club Swietelsky Bekescsaba and then continued to roll in the third round, beating French squad ASPTT Mulhouse VB (and s Ali Frantti, Carli Snyder, and Hayley Spelman) 3-1 in Lodz, and then 3-2 in Mulhouse. 

Stacked Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul the Favorite? 

Novara’s roster is pretty impressive across every position, but there’s at least one other team in Champions League that can rival that level of talent: Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul of the Turkish League. 

The 2018 Eczacibasi squad includes Team USA captain and top outside hitter Jordan Larson; Serbian opposite Tijana Boskovic, the reigning MVP of the World Championships; American middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer; and Team Korea’s captain Yeon Koung Kim. 

In five Turkish league matches, Eczacibasi has yet to drop a set on its way to a 5-0 start and a No. 1 spot in the standings. 

VakifBank Istanbul Wins Third World Title

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Minas Tenis Clube vs VakifBank Istanbul | 2018 FIVB

Both Turkish teams competing in the gold- and bronze-medal matches at the 2018 FIVB Women’s Club World Championships celebrated victory on Sunday. Now-three-time world champ VakifBank Istanbul defeated Minas Tenis Clube of Brazil in the championship match, and Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul swept Praia Clube to take third.

Minas Tenis Clube, VakifBank Istanbul Headed For Gold Medal Match

With clutch semifinal victories, Minas Tenis Clube and VakifBank Istanbul are heading to the gold-medal match of the 2018 FIVB Women’s Club World Championships. 

Turkish Squads Lead Charge Into Club Worlds Semis

Eczacibasi VirtA Istanbul and VakifBank Istanbul went undefeated in the group stage of the 2018 FIVB Women’s Club World Championships to win their respective pools and advance to the semifinals. 

Get To Know The 2018 UA All-American Setters

Having a skilled setter at the controls can elevate a good team to greatness. Conversely, even a team stacked with great hitters will struggle if they don't have a good setter. 

Get To Know The 2018 UA All-American Middle Blockers

Often the most physically imposing player on the court, middle blockers also have to be quick-thinking and agile. 

FIVB Women's Club World Championship Preview

If you thought your chance to watch elite women’s professional volleyball ended for the year when Serbia won the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Championship, think again. 

Trentino Wins Fifth FIVB World Club Gold Medal

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Cucine Lube vs. Trentino Volley

Heading into Sunday’s FIVB Men’s Club World Championship Final in Czestochowa, Poland, Trentino Volley of the Italian SuperLega was already the most decorated team in the history of the event. 

Serie A1 December Notebook

For an American volleyball fan, it’s a great time to start following the women’s top Italian League, Serie A1. All but two of the 13 teams in the league have Americans on their rosters, and some of the world’s top players are also competing in Italy this year.

Cucine Lube Civitanova, Diatecx Trentino To Meet In Finals

Cucine Lube Civitanova and Diatecx Trentino Volleyball will meet in the gold medal match of the 2018 FIVB Men’s Club World Championship, making a loud statement about the dominance of Italy’s SuperLega. 

Semifinalists Determined, Reigning Champ Gone At World Club Championships

Before the final day of pool play competition even began, the semifinalists of the 2018 FIVB Club World Championship had already been determined, and, in an unexpected turn of events, reigning Russian, European, and World Champ Zenit Kazan was not in the quartet of teams moving on to the next round.