One leg down, five to go in the group stage of the women’s CEV Champions League. Keep reading to hear the highlights of first leg and see what the 20 CEV Champions League teams have been up to since the last leg concluded.
VakifBank Celebrates FIVB Club World Champs Gold
Led by Chinese outside hitter Zhu Ting, VakifBank Istanbul, which is competing in Pool A of the Champions League, won the 2018 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship, marking the team’s second year in a row finishing on top of the podium.
Ting had a match-high 21 points in VakifBank’s championship sweep of Minas Tenis Clube. She also led all players in the tournament with 98 total points and was named Club Worlds MVP.
Dinamo Kazan Showcased Young Talent in Sweep of Hameenlinna
Dinamo Kazan, which won the Champions League in 2014, dominated the Finnish team Hameenlinna in both team’s first-leg match.
Russian national team middle blocker Irina Koroleva led the match in blocks (3), aces (3), kills (9) and total points (15). Kazan also showcased its young talent, with 18-year-old Anna Kotikova finishing the match as the second-highest scorer and 15-year-old Tatiana Kadochkina adding seven points.
Kelsey Robinson Named MVP of VakifBank’s 3-1 W Over Stuttgart
American outside hitter/libero Kelsey Robinson tallied 16 points in VakifBank’s Champions League opener victory over Stuttgart. She also tallied three blocks and 55 percent perfect reception and was named MVP of the match.
On the opposite side of the net, University of Alabama alum Krystal Rivers led Stuttgart with 14 points, while former Minnesota middle blocker Paige Tapp has three blocks.
VakifBank’s head coach said he believes Stuttgart is the strongest team in Pool A, so the straight-set victory marks a great start for the reigning CEV champs.
Eczacibasi Takes Turkish League Lead
Eczacibasi had to settle for a bronze medal at the Club World Championships, but less than a week later in Turkish League competition, it scored a four-set victory over Club World Champ VakifBank Istanbul to take the uncontested lead in the standings.
Tijana Boskovoic led the match with 18 points and Team USA’s Jordan Larson added 17.
These two Turkish rivals had already played once this season (in the Turkish Supercup where Eczacibasi won in four) and many expected the two teams to face in the Club World Championships gold-medal match.
Dinamo Moscow Loses First Leg Match, But Wins Russian Cup
Fenerbahce SK Istanbul, which ranks third behind Eczacibasi and VakifBank in the Turkish League standings, claimed a first leg victory over Dinamo Moscow in four sets.
Russian star opposite Nataliya Goncharova had an impressive 20 points for Moscow, but Fenerbahce’s 19-year-old Cuban pin hitter Melissa Vargas had 21, Russian middle Erdem Dundar added 15 and former USC outside hitter and 2015 AVCA National Player of the Year Samantha Bricio tallied 14.
The Russian squad didn’t stew on the loss for too long, however, as Moscow turned around to win the Russian Cup, sweeping VC Yenisey in the final, proving that despite the first-leg loss, this team will still be deadly.
Novara Leads Italian League Standings
With a 9-0 record, including six sweeps, Igor Gorgonzola Novara has a solid hold on the top spot in the Italian league standings.
Former University of Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini starts for Novara, along with Italy’s 19-year-old opposite Paola Egonu, who might just be the best offensive player in the world, and Team USA outside Michelle Bartsch-Hackley.
In its first match of the 2019 Champions League, Novara swept Budowlani Lodz and Egonu led the match with 19 points. Bartsch-Hackley added 11.
For its second leg matchup, Novara will take on Minchanka Minsk, which lost in straight sets to RC Cannes to open its group stage slate.
Conegliano and Scandicci, both Champions League competitors, currently rank third and fourth, respectively, in the Serie A1 standings.
CEV Champions League Round 4, Second Leg