Pomi Casalmaggiore win breakthrough Champions League title

 

Montichiari, Italy, April 10, 2016 – Pomi Casalmaggiore stunned Vakifbank Istanbul 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) in the final of the 2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women at PalaGeorge.

The result culminated the Italian side’s 12-month quest when they won their first national title last season before competing in the Champions League for the first time. They became the first Italian team to win the title since Volley Bergamo won the title in the 2009/10 edition.

The match was the biggest in European women’s club volleyball competition with an atmosphere that was fitting for such an occasion. Pomi fans decked out in pink apparel flocked to the stadium with their drums and megaphones that revved up the incredible atmosphere inside the competition hall.

In the first set, Pomi edged ahead after three points, but Vakifbank held their ground against the hosts and led 8-7 at the first technical timeout. Francesca Piccinini, who had won the competition three times with Volley Bergamo, delivered a superb ace to level the score at 15-all. Vakifbank led 20-19 but Pomi stormed back to lead 23-20. Vakifbank retaliated and an ace by Kim Hill tied the score at 23-all, but veteran Piccinini came up with the goods to win the tight set 25-23. Pomi’s Jovana Stevanovic contributed six points.

Pomi established a five-point gap 15-10 as Stevanovic continued to do the damage against their rivals. Vakifbank coach Giovanni Guidetti fielded Sheilla Castro in and the Brazilian opposite immediately delivered by reducing the deficit, but Pomi still led at the second technical timeout. The score was tied again at 20-all, but Pomi got two set points at 24-22. Pomi gave up one when Sheilla struck once more to being Vakif’s top scorer in the second set. However, Stevanovic pulled through with a 25-23 win for Pomi.

Stevanovic delivered for Pomi point after point. The lead changed hands a couple of times in the early stages but Piccinini helped out to put the hosts up by two points at 22-20. Piccinini sealed the set and match victory 25-22 with a block kill.

“This is without a doubt the greatest joy of my entire career as Pomi president,” Massimo Boselli Botturi said. “We fulfilled a dream. To have the possibility of playing in the Champions League is obviously a great opportunity, first of all, an opportunity to grow because we competed on equal terms with Europe’s best teams.

“I must say thank you to all the girls, to the coaches and to the staff. Right now, I am the happiest president in the world - thanks to them. We are a young but ambitious team. We know that to become important, time and sacrifice are necessary, but successes like this one gives us the right incentives to go on working with care and passion.”   

“In volleyball, it’s about who plays better, not who has the strongest team,” Pomi Casalmaggiore captain Valentina Tirozzi said. “I can’t explain how I feel. I have to look at this medal to realise that it’s true. My team is a European champion and it was amazing to play this game. We were really focused on the win and we never gave up. We knew Vakifbank were strong but we played better than them today. We will think about the Italian championship because we want to go as far as we can. I am living a lot of first times with my team and it’s an amazing story. I can’t believe it.”

German captain Margareta Kozuch, who also plays for the Italian club is ecstatic about the victory.

“It’s incredible and I am really proud of what we did,” Kozuch said. “We were working really hard and we had a lot of ups and downs during the season. We had a transcending performance over the two days and people cheered for us, sending us good energy. That’s what made this victory possible. I didn’t expect the final to go as it did. We had Vakifbank on the other side and they’ve already had a lot of successes. We believed we could win because it started at 0-0. We said we would believe and do everything we could. The fans were important. Everybody who sent us energy is part of the victory.”

Dream Team 

MVP: Francesca Piccinini (Pomi Casalmaggiore)
Best Setter: Carli Lloyd (Pomi Casalmaggiore)
Best Opposite: Margareta Anna Kozuch (Pomi Casalmaggiore)
Best Outside Spiker: Kim Yeon-Koung (Fenerbahce Grundig)
Second Best Outside Spiker: Kimberly Hill (Vakifbank Istanbul)
Best Middle Blocker: Eda Erdem Dundar (Fenerbahce Grundig)
Second Best Middle Blocker: Jovana Stevanovic (Pomi Casalmaggiore)
Best Libero: Hatice Gizem Orge (Vakifbank Istanbul)

Final standing

1. Pomi Casalmaggiore (ITA) 
2. Vakifbank Istanbul (TUR) 
3. Fenerbahce Grundig Istanbul (TUR) 
4. Dinamo Kazan (RUS)