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.
The FIVB Women’s Club World Championships brings together the top professional teams from Europe, South America, and Asia, to Shaoxing, China, for a six-day tournament (December 4-9) to definitively crown the top women’s professional team in the world.
Tune in right here on FloVolleyball to watch every match of the event live and see your favorite Team USA stars in action with their pro teams. This is also an excellent opportunity to get to know the top players from around the world, whom you may or may not have ever seen in action with their national teams.
Here’s what you need to know about the teams competing and when to watch.
Minas Tenis Clube | Belo Horizonte, Brazil
With a five-set defeat of Rexona-Sesc Rio de Janeiro in the final of the 2018 South America Club Championship, Minas Tenis Clube earned a spot in the World Club Championship for the first time in 26 years.
Minas’ roster features all Brazilian players, including Olympic gold medalist Natalia Pereira, who returned to her home country after playing for Turkish club Fenerbahce the last two seasons.
Keep an eye out also for outside Gabriela Braga Guimaraes. The 24-year-old was the second-highest points scorer for Brazil during Volleyball Nations League earlier this year.
Minas has had a wonderful start to the new season, boasting a 4-0 record in Brazil’s SuperLiga.
VakifBank Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey
Four of the top performers from the 2018 FIVB World Championship appear on VakifBank’s 2018-19 roster. Ting Zhu led China with 227 total points at Worlds, while Lonneke Sloetjes had 276 points for the Netherlands. Kelsey Robinson played libero for the USA, which finished fifth at the event, and Milena Rasic finished Worlds as the top blocker for gold medalist Serbia and the third-best blocker in the Final Six.
The reigning champ of the FIVB Club World Championship also won CEV Champions League and the Turkish League during the 2017-18 season. With an unblemished 8-0 record so far in Turkish League competition so far this season, VakifBank is back to its usual winning ways.
VakifBank’s head coach Guidetti Giovanni also serves as head coach of Turkey’s women’s national team and previously coached the national teams of Bulgaria, Netherland, and Germany.
Volero Le Cannet | Le Cannet, France
A relatively new club, Volero Le Cannet is the result of the merger of Volero Zurich and Volleyball Le Cannet-Rocheville. Twenty-five year old Swiss outside hitter Laura Unternährer serves as captain, and the team, which qualified for the Club Worlds via wildcard, is coached by Avital Selinger, the son of Hall of Fame Israeli coach Arie Selinger.
Le Cannet, which won the French Cup in 2015, currently leads the Ligue A standings with seven wins and just one loss. Key players, in addition to Unternährer, include Ana Bjelica, a Serbian opposite who contributed to her national team’s World Championship gold medal this summer; French libero Amandine Giardino; Bulgarian outside hitter Gergana Dimitrova; and Cuban opposite Heidy Casanova Alvarez.
Zhejiang Women’s Volleyball Club | Zhejiang, China
Zhejiang Women's Volleyball Club of the China Volleyball Super League scored its first-ever berth into the FIVB Club World Championship by virtue of being the host team of the 2018 tournament.
The team has seen significant success in the CVL since the league was founded in 1996, winning the title in 2014 and finishing runner-up in 1999 and 2017. Last season, in its 70th-anniversary since being founded in 1958, Zhejiang finished the season ranked sixth in the CVL, and in 2015, the team took home a bronze medal at the Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship.
Three Zhejiang players appeared on China’s World Championship roster this summer — Hanyu Yang, Yanhan Liu, and Mengjie Wang — however, none of the three got any significant playing time. Yang, a 19-year-old middle blocker, was named MVP of the 2017 U20 World Championships.
Altay Volleyball Club | Kazakastan
Six-time Kazakhstan champion Altay Volleyball Club has won the last four national titles in a row, however, a medal has eluded this squad at the Asian Club Championship, where it has lost in the third-place match three years in a row, and this marks the team’s first appearance in Club Worlds.
Head coach Iurii Panchenko played for the USSR, winning an Olympic gold medal in 1980 and silver in 1988. In his coaching career, Panchenko led Dinamo Moscow to two Russian league titles before taking over the Altay program this year.
The 2018-19 Altay roster includes two Puerto Ricans — middle blocker Ana Sofia Jusino, who played at the University of Arkansas from 2012 to 2016, and 22-year-old Julymar Lorelys Otero Perez — both of whom played for Puerto Rico during this summer’s World Championship. Altay will also benefit from the talents of Serbia national team starting libero Silvija Popovic.
Eczacibasi Vitra Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey
Eczacibasi Vitra, VakifBank’s toughest competition in this year’s Turkish league, won back-to-back Club World Championship titles in 2016 and 2017, but finished fourth in last year’s event. Eczacibasi also won the CEV Champions League in 2015 and claimed bronze in 2017.
Although Eczacibasi has won the Turkish league 28 times, either VakifBank or Fenerbahçe has won every year since 2012.
A star-studded Eczacibasi roster includes U.S. National Team members Jordan Larson and Lauren Gibbemeyer, as well as Serbia all-star Tijana Boskovic and top Korean outside hitter Yeon Koung Kim.
In Eczacibasi’s first Champions League match of the season, the Turkish team defeated Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg in four, with Kim contributing a match-high 19 points and Boskovia added 17.
Praia Clube | Uberlandia, Brazil
Fans of former Penn State outside hitter and 2008 AVCA National Player of the Year Nicole Fawcett will want to tune in anytime Praia Clube takes the floor at Club Worlds. Fawcett joined Praia in 2017 and helped the team win its first Brazilian league title earlier this year.
This fall, Fawcett’s fellow American Carli Lloyd also joined the team, arriving in Brazil after finishing a busy summer as the starting setter for Team USA.
With Brazil national team starting libero Suelen Pinto running the back court, expect Praia’s passing and defense to be on point. The Praia roster also includes Pinto’s follow Brazilian national teamers middle Ana Carolina Da Silva and outside Rosamaria Montibeller.
A fantastic start to the 2018-19 Brazil SuperLiga season has seen Praia win five matches in a row to top the standings with 14 points.
Supreme Chonburi | Thailand
Supreme Chonburi won the 2018 Asian Club Championship to punch its ticket to the 2018 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship. In fact, Chonburi has won the Asian Club Championship the past two years, in addition to winning the title in Thailand’s top league twice in the same time span.
So far, the 2018-19 season has not gone so smoothly, however, as Supreme Chonburi has a 2-2 record and ranks fifth in the Thai league standings.
The team’s roster includes 10 Thai national team members including Pleumjit Thinkaow, who serves as captain of Thailand’s national team.
Pool Play Schedule
- Eczacibasi Vitra Istanbul vs. Altay Volleyball, 3 AM CT (Pool B)
- Zhejiang vs. VakifBank Istanbul, 6 AM CT (Pool A)
- Praia Clube vs. Altay Volleyball, 8 PM CT (Pool B)
- VakifBank Istanbul vs. Volero Le Cannet, 12 AM CT (Pool A)
- Supreme Chonburi vs. Eczacibasi Vitra Istanbul, 3 AM CT (Pool B)
- Zhejiang vs. Minas Tenis Clube, 6 AM CT (Pool A)