Opening match victories for Italians Cucine Lube Civitanova and Trentino Itas determined the four semifinalists of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship on Wednesday. The Europeans will be joined by Brazilians Sada Cruzeiro and FUNVIC – Fundação Universitária Vida Cristã in the final stage of the tournament that’s being played in Betim, Brazil.
Italian victories determine Club World Championship semifinalists
Lube, Trentino, Sada Cruzeiro and FUNVIC advance in Betim
Published 01:11, 09 Dec 2021
Lube and Trentino secured wins over Argentina’s UPCN San Juan and Iran’s Sirjan Foolad on the second match day at the Ginasio Poliesportivo Divino Braga and these results have eliminated the South Americans and Asians, who had lost to the Brazilians on Tuesday and will finish third in their pools.
Winners of the 2019 edition of the tournament, which was also played in Betim, Lube pushed through the absence of Olympic medallists Osmany Juantorena and Ivan Zaytsev to take UPCN down in straight sets (25-19, 25-13, 25-21) and move to the top spot in Pool A.
“Our goal here is to play hard every match,” setter Luciano De Cecco said. “We know that if we manage to play at our usual level, we have a good chance of making it to the final, which is our goal. But there are some really strong teams in the tournament and keeping a strong mindset and the right attitude on a daily basis will be key. Some of our most important players are injured, so it’s going to be a team effort for us. Our younger players will have to play big roles for us and I think it will be a great experience for them.”
Lube was in control the entire time and vastly outscored UPCN in kills (39-22), blocks (12-2) and aces (8-2). The Italian side had three players reaching double digits in scoring in Puerto Rican opposite Gabriel Garcia, with 14 (11 kills, two blocks, one ace), outside hitter Marlon Yant, also with 14 (eight kills, three blocks, three aces), and fellow Cuban and middle blocker Robertlandy Simon, with ten (four kills, five blocks, one ace). UPCN’s top scorer was middle blocker Fabian Flores with six points, all in kills.
“Today’s match was really important and not only for the win,” Garcia explained. “It was our first match in the tournament and it was good for us to get used to the court and the environment here and also to get some confidence going forward. It’s my first time at the Club World Championship and it’s been nice to feel this atmosphere.”
Five-time Club World Championship winners Trentino were equally dominant in their debut, sweeping Sirjan Foolad 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-19) in the second match of the evening. The European vice-champions counted on their strong serves to make a difference as they registered seven aces (with setter Ricardo Sbertoli and outside hitter Alessandro Michieletto having two each) against two from the Iranians.
Opposite Daniele Lavia led all scorers with 16 points points (13 kills, two blocks, one ace), one more than Michieletto, who ended the match with 12 kills and one block besides his two aces. Outside hitter Amirhossein Esfandiar was the only Sirjan Foolad player to reach double digits with ten points (eight kills, one block, one ace).
“They’re the Asian champions and have a really good team,” middle blocker Marko Podrascanin commented. “The first match in any tournament is always difficult but I thought we did well in most areas of the game. Perhaps our serving could have been better, but it was important that we won and got all three points. Making it to the semifinal was our first goal and now we’ll try to finish first in our pool. Sada Cruzeiro have been the best Brazilian team for some time and have several players from the national team, so playing against them will be a great test for us.”
The first and second-place spots in both pools and the semifinal matchups will be set on Thursday, when Lube face FUNVIC at 17.00 local time and Trentino meet Sada Cruzeiro at 20.30 local time.
“It was interesting to play our first match in the tournament and adjust to the rules that are being tested here,” Trentino captain Matey Kaziyski added. “I’m very happy about our victory and I think there are just a few things we need to pay more attention to going forward. I know the atmosphere will be insane tomorrow when we play Sada Cruzeiro and we’ll prepare for a really tough match.”