Maxim Mikhaylov was one of Zenit's star players when they won the 2017 World Club Championship
Lausanne, Switzerland, November 12, 2018 – Maxim Mikhaylov is expecting defending FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship gold medallists Zenit Kazan to be firing on all cylinders when they defend their title in two weeks time.
The Russian side return to Poland for the tournament that runs from November 26 to December 2. In 2017 they defeated Lube Civitanova 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-13) in the gold medal match at the Tauron Arena in Krakow having won silver in 2015 and 2016.
Since then they have added France’s star player Earvin Ngapeth to their ranks - the wing spiker joined after four and a half years with Modena in Italy's Serie A.
“He is a professional and understands why he came to Zenit,” Mikhaylov told the RIA Novosti news agency. “Earvin understands why he came and that is most important.
“We have no rough edges in the team. We have a common goal, and it does not matter to us who is on the court. We are ready to help new players settle in and understand what playing for Zenit means.”
Zenit won the 2018 CEV Champions League with another victory over Civitanova in front of 7,000 supporters at their home venue. It was their sixth Champions League win and Mikhaylov was voted Most Valuable Player.
They managed to go through the entire tournament without losing a match and lost only five sets. However, at the end of the tournament they said farewell to Cuban international Wilfredo Leon who moved to Sir Safety Perugia in Italy after 199 matches for Zenit.
Zenit will begin their defence at the Orlen Arena in Plock, where they will again face Civitanova, as well as local favourites SKRA Belchatow and fellow Russians Fakel Novy Urengoy.
Pool B takes place at the Hala Podpromie and features Italian side Trentino Volley, Brazil’s Sada Cruzeiro, Poland’s Asseco Resovia and Khatam Ardakan from Iran. The semifinals and medal matches will take place in the Hala Sportowa in Czestochowa.
“We have a good team, a real family,” Mikhaylov said. “All the experienced players help the young guys who come to Zenit. They understand that, in spite of their age, in Kazan they are required to produce a good result and play as well as they can.
“At Zenit everyone is expected to win. Everyone just wants to win, fight and prove that it’s not for nothing that we wear the jersey of such a club.”