Betim, Brazil, December 7, 2019 – Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei and Cucine Lube Civitanova are the finalists of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship as the Brazilians and the Italians both advanced to the gold medal match on Saturday with straight-set semifinal wins at the Ginasio Poliesportivo Dinino Braga, in Betim, Brazil.
The Brazilians, who won all of their three world titles in Betim (2013, 2015 and 2016) and are looking for their fourth crown at home, had a solid performance against Zenit Kazan and topped the Russians 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-23), repeating the score of both team’s opening match in the tournament, on Tuesday.
The Brazilian victory was built upon a stellar display of Argentinean outside hitter Facundo Conte, who carried the team’s offensive load with 16 points – 14 in attacks and a pair of blocks.
Rio 2016 Olympic champion opposite Evandro Guerra (13) and middle-blocker Isac Santos (11) also scored in double digits. The middle attacks were the path for the Brazilian victory as both Isac and Otavio Pinto scored in all of their combined 12 attempts.
“Sada has had a lot of success in the last years, but this is a new team and we’re looking for a fresh start,” Isac explained. “I think we’ve been playing really well and there’s still a lot of room for improvement as we experience new situations in matches against some of the best teams in the world. To be in the final is just a reflex of how hard we work and how much we trust this project.”
The top scorer of the match, however, was Zenit’s international star Earvin Ngapeth, who added 17 points for the Russian side. Bulgarian opposite Tsvetan Sokolov (14) and the French outside hitter combined for 31 of the 47 points scored by players of the team in the match.
Opposite Kamil Rychlicki was a key piece on Lube's offense
Lube, on the other hand, returns to a Club World Championship gold medal match for the third-straight time in as many years as the Italians took silver at both the 2017 and 2018 editions of the tournament.
“Winning the Club World Championship is not an obsession for us, but it’s a title the club has never won, so there would obviously be a special flavor if we did it tomorrow,” outside hitter Osmany Juantonera said. “Unfortunately we lost the last two finals and we’ll bring everything we have to win this time. But Sada Cruzeiro is a good team with great players and we know this match won’t be anything like the preliminary round match. They’ll certainly play better and we need to be ready for it.”
The reigning Italian and European champions dominated Qatar’s Al-Rayyan Sports Club to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-22) win on Saturday’s second semifinal. Former Sada Cruzeiro outside hitter Yoandy Leal was pivotal in Lube’s win with 18 points.
Opposite Kamil Rychlicki, with nine points, and Juantorena and middle-blocker Robertlandy Simon, with eight each, also had an effective night in Betim.
Opposite Marco Ferreira led Al-Rayyan’s effort with ten points. Middle-blocker Belal Abunabot added eight while outside hitter Marcus Vinicius de Souza contributed with seven.
Sunday will mark the end of the 2019 Men’s Club World Championship with Zenit and Al-Rayyan playing the bronze medal match at 9.30 and Sada Cruzeiro and Lube clashing for gold at 12.30.