CEV Superfinal Primer: Zenit Kazan vs. Cucine Lube Civitanova


Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloVolleyball!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

The majority of the top men’s volleyball players in the world compete for professional teams in Europe, and on May 18, Cucine Lube Civitanova of Italy’s Serie A and Zenit Kazan of Russia’s Superleague will meet in the Super Final of the 2018-19 CEV Volleyball Champions League to determine the top team on the continent.

Here’s everything you need to know about these two teams heading into the ultimate showdown.

The Players

Although Lube is based in Civitanova Marche, Italy, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, only two of its usual starters compete for the Italian national team—libero Fabio Balaso and Juantorena Osmany, an outside hitter who was born in Cuba and played for the Cuban national team until 2006. Juantorena played a big role in Italy’s silver medal at the Rio Olympics, scoring 14 points in the defeat of the USA in the semifinals.

Two other Lube players are also former Cuban national teamers who now compete for other countries. Outside hitter Yoandy Leal Hidalgo defected from Cuba in 2010 and received Brazilian citizenship in 2015. Middle blocker Robertlandy Simón Aties played for his native Cuba until defecting in 2010. In September 2018, the Bulgarian Federation said they had initiated the process of getting Simón Bulgarian citizenship.

Setter Bruno Mossa de Rezende has quarterbacked Brazil to three Olympic medals—silver in 2008 and 2012 and gold in 2016. The son of former Brazil men’s national team head coach Bernardinho and two-time Olympian Vera Mossa joined the Brazilian senior national team in 2007 when he was just 20 years old.

Eastern Europeans Tsvetan Sokolov of Bulgaria and Dragan Stankovic of Serbia round out the intimidating starting lineup.

Zenit Kazan’s offense features a who’s who of the world’s top pin hitters: Matt Anderson from Team USA, Earvin Ngapeth from France, and Russia’s Maxim Mikhailov, a gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics. All three rank in the top 20 scorers in Champions League. 

Setter Alexander Butko was named best setter of the 2017-18 Champions League and has been Zenit Kazan’s setter since 2015-16. The Russian national teamer was also a member of that Olympic gold-medal winning team in 2012 and saw occasional playing time in the 2018 World Championships, although 23-year-old setter Dmitry Volkov seems to have staked claim to the starting spot.

Libero Alexey Verbov is the current starting libero for the Russia national team. Middles Artem Volvich (7’0”) and Alexey Samoylenko (6’9”), both also Russian, combine to make Kazan a ferocious blocking team.

This game will be especially significant for Anderson, who recently signed with Italy’s Azimut Leo Shoes Modena for the 2019-20 season after eight years with Zenit Kazan.

History & Seasons to Date

Zenit Kazan has won the last four CEV Champions League tournaments in a row and has claimed six European titles in total. In 2017, the Russian squad also won the FIVB Club World Championships after finishing runner-up the two seasons prior.

Dominant at home in the Russia’s Superleague, Kazan has won 10 of the last 12 league titles. This year, however, despite going 25-1 in the regular season, Kazan couldn’t bring home the Russian championship, losing to Kuzbass Kemerovo in the final to miss out on the national title for the first time in six years.

In Champions League, Kazan went undefeated in pool play, but then required a golden set to advance in the quarterfinals after splitting a pair of five-set matches with Trefl Gdansk of Poland’s PlusLiga. The semifinal round saw Kazan send Italy’s Sir Safety Conad Perugia (an Team USA’s Aaron Russell) packing with two straight victories. 

This season, Lube finished third in the Serie A regular season standings with a 23-3 record, just one point behind No. 2 Trentino and No. 1 Perugia, but the squad advanced all the way to the league championship series thanks to victories over Verona in the quarters and Trentino in the semifinals. As of this writing, Lube and Perugia were locked in a battle for the title, with each team having won two matches in the series.

In its history, Lube has won a gold medal at Champions League just once, in 2002, but the squad has medaled in each of the last three seasons, claiming silver last year and bronze in 2017 and 2016.

The two-time Club World Championships silver medalists (2017 and 2018) have won four Italian league titles, five Italian Cups, and three Italian SuperCups (American fans will be forgiven for having no idea the difference between those three competitions).

The 2018-19 Champions League competition saw Lube go undefeated in pool play, earning the sweep in all but two matches, and then win both quarterfinal legs over Dinamo Moscow. The semifinals showcased the most dominant Lube yet, as the team advanced with two sweeps over PGE Skra Belchatow.

Head to Head

The 2018-19 Champions League Super Final serves as a rematch of last year’s final, which Kazan hosted and won in five incredibly close sets (29-27, 18-25, 23-25, 25-23, 17-15). 

Sokolov led Lube with 29 total points in the 2017-18 final, but Wilfredo Leon, who is now a member of Sir Sicoma Conad Perugia but was then playing for Kazan, topped all players with 32 points. The 2017-18 Lube squad also featured Americans Taylor Sander and Micah Christenson, who have since transferred to different teams. 

Kazan and Lube also met in the final of the 2017 FIVB Club World Championships, with Kazan claiming the title in straight sets.

How to Watch

FloVolleyball will live stream the men’s and women’s CEV Champions League SuperFinals on May 18, with the women’s final at 9 AM CT and the men’s at 12 PM CT. 

USA's Youth, Depth On Full Display During Opening Week Of VNL

Highlight: Americans Sweep Bulgaria

After just one week of Volleyball Nations League competition, two words come to mind to describe the 2019 U.S. Women’s National Team: youth and depth. 

U.S. Men Finalize 25-Player FIVB Volleyball Nations League Roster

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach John Speraw has finalized his 25-player roster for the fast-approaching 2019 Volleyball Nations League tournament. 

Defending Champion USA Puts Away Resilient Japan

Japan vs United States | Women's VNL

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloVolleyball!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Haleigh Washington picked up where Annie Drews had left off the previous night and Jordan Thompson came on off the bench in the third set to guide USA back on track, as the defending champions outplayed Japan 3-1 (25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 25-20) Wednesday for their second win in as many matches at the 2019 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League.

Americans Roar Out Of The VNL Gates, Dominate Belgium

Belgium vs United States | Women's VNL

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloVolleyball!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

It took a little bit of concentration to seal the first set, but USA got off to a cracking start in the 2019 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League as they began the defence of last year's title with a solid and convincing 3-0 (25-23, 25-8, 25-22) win over Belgium at Ruse.

VNL Week 1 Preview: New-Look USA Heads To Bulgaria


The U.S. Women’s National Team kicks off its 2019 season on the road in Ruse, Bulgaria, for the first of five weeks of Volleyball Nations League pool play. 

2019 FIVB VNL Preview: Korea Women's National Team


Korea’s national women’s volleyball team is on the verge of a new era as it is set to welcome new Italian coach Stefano Lavarini into the fold. 

2019 FIVB VNL Preview: Germany Women's National Team


As Germany steps onto the court of the FIVB VNL 2019, it will also step into a new era as it undergoes changes and improvements to its young team. 

2019 FIVB VNL Preview: Belgium Women's National Team

Belgium’s women’s national team did just enough at last year’s competition to continue playing in the FIVB VNL 2019. 

The Internet's Most Super CEV Champions League Superfinal Preview

By the time the 2018-19 CEV Champions League women’s Super Final rolls around on May 18, there will be absolutely nothing left unknown between the finalists Imoco Volley Conegliano and Igor Gorgonzola Novara. 

A Closer Look At The Final VNL Roster For The USA Women


The picture of the group that will don the red, white and blue jerseys, and represent the USA in this summer’s women’s Volleyball Nations League is coming into focus.