Men's Club World Championship participants gear up in domestic leagues


Loran Alekno, Artem Bolvich and Maxim Mikhaylov get up for a triple block in Zenit Kazan's win over Kuzbass Kemerovo in the Russian Superleague.

Lausanne, Switzerland, October 31, 2018 - The 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship is now less than a month away, but participants in the week-long event across three cities of Poland are already busy and gearing up in their domestic and continental leagues. Here's a roundup of what each World Championship participant is currently up to.

Reigning world, European and national champions Zenit Kazan are undefeated in three matches in the Russian Superleague, but have dropped a point in their five-set win in Moscow over Dinamo, which currently puts them in fifth place in the standings.

Zenit did bounce back last weekend, beating Kuzbass Kemerovo 3-1 at home, in a match highlighted by the return of USA's Matt Anderson and the debut of France superstar Earvin Ngapeth with the Kazan side.

Fakel Nony Urnegoy, on the other hand, are up there amongst the leaders of the standings following three wins for full points, including their latest success in straight sets at home over Dinamo of Saint Petersburg.

Things should be starting to clear up at the top of the standings next weekend, when Zenit host table leaders Belogorie Belgorod - though Fakel have a theoretically easier task when they entertain bottom-of-the-table and winless Yarsolavich.

In Italy, meanwhile, Cucine Lube Civitanova, runners-up in last year's Club World Championship, lead the Superleague undefeated after three matches (alongside Sir Safety Conad Perugia and Azimut Leo Shoes Modena).

Italy's second entry in the World Championship, four-time world champions Itas Trentino, have already suffered their first defeat, falling in four sets in Perugia.

Something has to give tomorrow when Lube host Perugia in a highly anticipated game, while Trentino entertain Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia.

But all eyes are on Sunday's big match on Sunday when the two World Championship entrants go head-to-head at Civitanova's Eurosuole Forum, where Lube host Trentino.

Trentino are also in the second-tier European CEV Cup, though they'll have to wait until next week to find out their opponent which will be the winner of the matches between Ukraine's Barkom-Kazhany of Lvov and Switzerland's UC Lausanne.

Over in Poland, PGE Skra Belchatow, this year's hosts of the Club World Championship and PlusLiga defending champions, are two defeats down after four matches.

They lost their opening match of the season 3-2 to Chemik Bydgoszcz, before picking up back-to-back wins at home against MKS Bedzin (3-1) and Trefl Gdansk (3-2). However, Skra lost their next match (also at home) to Indykpol AZS Olsztyn in straiight sets, leaving them in just ninth place in the standings.

Read more: Poland's Skra claim honours ahead of Men's Club World Championship

Things seem worse for Poland's second entry in the World Championship, with Asseco Resovia Rzeszow remaining winless after four matches, at the bottom of the table - though they have picked up one point in their opening day five-setter against Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie.

Skra and Resovia go head-to-head in the PlusLiga on Matchday 6 on 7 November in Belchatow.

Zenit, Lube and Skra are all participating in the European Champions League this season - but we'll have to wait until Friday to find out how they're placed in the pools, which will be determined following a drawing of lots in Budapest as part of the European Volleyball Confederation Gala.

Trentino are also in the second-tier European CEV Cup, though they'll have to wait until next week to find out their opponent which will be the winner of the matches between Ukraine's Barkom-Kazhany of Lvov and Switzerland's UC Lausanne.

Across the Atlantic, defending Brazil Superleague champions Sada Cruzeiro of Contagem opened the season last weekend with a 3-0 away sweep of Volei UM Itapetininga, just before returning to the Riachao to crush Argentina's Club Ciudad of Buenos Aires 3-0 in the inaugural Copa Libertadores of South America.

Reigning Asian champions Ardakan Khatam opened their campaign in Iran's Premier League with a four-set defeat at home to Matin Varamin, but quickly bounced back to score back-to-back wins over Dorna Urmia in four sets on the road and a 3-0 sweep of Shahrara Mashhad at home.

This puts them in fifth place in the standings, three points below table leaders and defending Iran champions Paykan Tehran.

Captain Farhad Nazari Afshar celebrates in Ardakan Khatam's latest win in the Iranian Premier League against Shahrara Mashhad.

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