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CEV Volleyball Champions League
Five out six matches scheduled for the first round of the much awaited Playoffs 6 resulted into home wins but the return games coming up next week are set to provide some more thrilling moments as the chase for a spot to join the final four of the 2013 CEV Volleyball Champions League is entering its “hottest” stage.
Two derbies were supposed to highlight the men’s competition but eventually Zenit KAZAN and Lube Banca Marche MACERATA could cruise to a couple of speedy wins in straight sets to literally rout their compatriots of Dinamo MOSCOW and Bre Banca Lannutti CUNEO. However, the fate of these double fixtures is not yet determined as next week Dinamo and Bre Banca Lannutti will try to exploit the home advantage to re-open the series and call for the golden set.
As the countdown for the final four taking place in Omsk next March 16-17 got started, the hosts of Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK will certainly play there – as per the regulations in force – the eventual winner of the Russian derby starring Zenit and Dinamo; the second semifinal will quite evidently be joined by an Italian side that will be trying to prolong the supremacy of this country in the competition and by the winner of the double clash opposing Zaksa KEDZIERZYN-KOZLE to Arkas Izmir.
This past Tuesday Zaksa could have the upper hand after a dramatic tie-break but the ambiance is set to be “hot” for the return game in Turkey as Arkas will be trying there to make it to the final four for the second consecutive season after finishing fourth last year in Lodz.
In the women’s competition, hosts Galatasaray Daikin ISTANBUL are waiting in the semis for the winner of yet another derby, whose first round was claimed on Thursday by Vakifbank. The club that wrote history for Turkey back in 2011 turning into the first side from this country able to seize the trophy of Europe’s most elitist competition was powered by Serbian opposite Jovana Brakocevic along the way to a 3:1 win over their compatriots of Eczacibasi VitrA but they will need to claim a second victory next week in order to make it to the finals.
The other emerging Volleyball “Mecca”, Azerbaijan, is being represented in the Playoffs 6 by two teams whose credentials for advancing to the final four are very solid. While the silver medalists from the 2012 FIVB Club World Championships of Rabita BAKU were able to prolong their winning streak in the competition to nine consecutive matches by edging Dinamo KAZAN on Thursday, Azerrail lost on Tuesday to Italy’s sensation Unendo Yamamay BUSTO ARSIZIO but will try to use the home advantage to turn the odds around in the return match.
So let’s stay tuned for another round of world-class matches to complete by next Thursday the draw of the final four tournaments taking place in Omsk and Istanbul that will round off an already memorable season!