Lube Civitanova's Kamil Rychlicki takes on the Zenit Kazan block on Thursday
Betim, Brazil, December 5, 2019 – Italian powerhouse Cucine Lube Civitanova secured the best record of the preliminary round of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship even though the reigning European champions lost the last of their three matches at the Ginasio Poliesportivo Divino Braga, in Betim, Brazil on Thursday.
Needing only one set to secure the top spot, the Italians replaced six of their seven starters after their first-set victory and were downed 3-2 (25-12, 25-23, 12-25, 20-25, 10-15) by Russia’s Zenit Kazan in a rematch of the European Champions League final last May.
With the result, the Italians secured the top seed in the semifinals and will face fourth-seeded Qatar’s Al-Rayyan Sports Club on Saturday, December 7, at 17.00. In the first semifinal to be played on Saturday, second-seeded Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei of Brazil will play third-seeded Zenit at 14.00.
“We knew that we just needed to win one set to finish first and after that we thought it would be more valuable for us to give some time to some players who hadn’t been on the court a lot,” head coach Ferdinando de Giorgi explained. “Now we have one day off until the semifinals and we’ll prepare the best way we can.”
Zenit’s opposite Tsvetan Sokolov was the top scorer of the match with 20 points earned against his former club. Outside hitters Maxim Mikhaylov and Earvin Ngapeth tallied 16 and 15, respectively.
Otavio Pinto of Sada Cruzeiro
In the final match of the preliminary round, Sada Cruzeiro pleased their home fans by earning their second win in the tournament, a 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-17) triumph over Al-Rayyan.
Middle-blockers Otavio Pinto and Cledenilson Batista were the top scorers for the Brazilian team with ten points each, one more than opposite Luan Weber.
"It was nice that Marcelo (Mendez, head coach) rotated the players a little bit so we could rest those who needed rest and also give some rhythm to those who hadn’t played so much," Luan reflected. "We beat Zenit in the preliminary round but it’s certainly going to be a different game and a very difficult one in the semifinals.”