2017 Review: Zenit Kazan third time lucky at Men’s Club World Championship


Zenit Kazan celebrate a point during the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship in Poland.

Lausanne, Switzerland, January 22, 2018 - It was a case of third time lucky for 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship winners Zenit Kazan. After losing finals in 2015 and 2016, the Russian club finally came up trumps in December.

A flawless campaign saw coach Vladimir Alekno's men claim gold without dropping a single set. It was a show of strength from the European Champions League winners, who completed their victory by defeating Italian champions Lube Civitanova in the final 3-0 (27-25, 25-22, 25-22) at Krakow's Tauron Arena.

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Zenit were clearly delighted to be crowned the top club team in the world.

“I have two silvers and the gold now. I don't remember the last period of my life when I was as happy as I am now. The European Champions League title was great, everybody was happy, but this victory was the main goal. For the last five years, the Club World Championship title was our goal; now everybody is happy and we can only think about this moment,” said libero Alexey Verbov.

The key to their success was a 3-0 semifinal win over defending champions Sada Cruzeiro from Brazil. The last two FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championships had been held in Betim (Brazil), where Kazan lost to Sada Cruzeiro in the final on both occasions - 3-1 (2015) and 3-0 (2016). This time, however, it was the Russian team who got the upper hand.

“It is always hard to play against the Brazilian champions, but this time we defeated them,” said Verbov.

Kazan’s US star Matt Anderson identified the reason for their success: “We played very high balls like most of the Russian teams do and like we did in the European Champions League. With big guns like Leon and top-quality middle blockers, we got what we wanted.”

Alongside Anderson, Alexander Butko and Maxim Mikhaylov, blocker Wilfredo Leon was key to Kazan’s gold-winning performance. In the final, the Cuban star contributed 19 points.

It was Leon's compatriot Osmany Juantorena from final opponents Civitanova who was named the tournament’s MVP, however. It was the fourth time that the honour was bestowed upon Juantorena.

“I am very happy to have been named MVP of this tournament. However, I would have preferred to win the gold medal match with my team,” he said. “This award usually goes to the winning team, so it should have been for Leon.”

Wilfredo Leon received the best outside hitter award and was overjoyed. “I did not play for the MVP title. I played for the gold medal and I did my job. It is my team’s first gold medal in this competition, so I am very happy with what we have done here.”

Dethroned defending champions Sada Cruzeiro defeated Polish co-hosts Skra Belchatow 3-0 to secure third place, but the goal had been to complete a hat-trick of titles.

Despite Civitanova’s defeat in the final, Italy are the most successful nation at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championships with a total of eight titles. Sada Cruzeiro won all three of Brazil’s titles to date in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Following Belogorie Belgorod’s victory in 2014, Zenit Kazan's victory in 2017 is the second for Russia.

The two Polish clubs participating in the competition failed to claim a first title for their country. Belchatow coach Roberto Piazza said: “We played against the three best teams in the world in this tournament - Zenit, Lube and Sada. Now we need to feel the difference between our volleyball and theirs so we can take a step forward in the near future." For now, however, the worthy champions are Zenit Kazan.

FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship 2017 Results/Overview
FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship 2017 Statistics

FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship 2017 Dream Team:
MVP: Osmany Juantorena (Cucine Lube Civitanova)
Outside hitters: Wilfredo Leon (Zenit Kazan) & Yoandy Leal (Sada Cruzeiro)
Middle blockers: Alexey Samoylenko (Zenit Kazan) & Robertlandy Simon (Sada Cruzeiro)
Opposite: Tsvetan Sokolov (Cucine Lube Civitanova)
Setter: Alexander Butko (Zenit Kazan)
Libero: Jenia Grebennikov (Cucine Lube Civitanova)

Club World Championship MVPs:
1989 Parma: -
1990 Milan: Claudio Galli (Mediolanum Milan)
1991 Sao Paulo: Karch Kiraly (Il Messaggero Ravenna)
1992 Treviso: Lorenzo Bernardi (Sisley Treviso)
2009 Doha: Matey Kaziyski (Trentino Betclic)
2010 Doha: Osmany Juantorena (Trentino Betclic)
2011 Doha: Osmany Juantorena (Trentino Diatec)
2012 Doha: Osmany Juantorena (Trentino Diatec)
2013 Betim: Wallace de Souza (Sada Cruzeiro)
2014 Belo Horizonte: Dmitriy Muserskiy (Belogorie Belgorod)
2015 Betim: Yoandy Leal (Sada Cruzeiro)
2016 Betim: William Arjona (Sada Cruzeiro)
2017 Krakow: Osmany Juantorena (Cucine Lube Civitanova)


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