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11/12/2017 11:00
Ten things you need to know before the start of the #CLVolleyW League Round
2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women

Luxembourg, December 11, 2017. Time has finally come for the group stage of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Women to start with the first matchups coming up this week following the Drawing of Lots held this past November 17 in Moscow. There is a lot to look forward to as Europe’s top 16 teams take to the court vying for a spot in the elite Playoffs 6, with fans looking forward to enjoying the actions of the world’s best Volleyball players!

As we did with the start of the men’s League Round a week ago, let us review a few interesting facts and stories before the first matches take place on Tuesday night in the Czech Republic and Serbia.

1.    Italy are the most successful nation in the history of the competition – with eight titles to their name, including an unrivalled six in a row from 2005 to 2010. Volley BERGAMO can boast an all-time record four titles to their credit (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010). VakifBank could equal this record if they manage to defend the title they won last April in Treviso. VakifBank will be trying to emulate RC CANNES and Volley BERGAMO – the only teams capable of retaining their titles as they achieved this feat in 2002-2003 and 2009-2010, respectively.

2.    Turkey have been the dominant force since VakifBank claimed Europe’s most-coveted crown back in 2011. Teams from Turkey have stood on top of the podium five times over the last seven years – with VakifBank accounting for three titles (2011, 2013 and 2017), while Fenerbahce and Eczacibasi VitrA emerged victorious in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Russia’s Dinamo KAZAN and Italy’s Pomi CASALMAGGIORE broke Turkey’s winning streak in 2014 and 2016.

3.    Galatasaray ISTANBUL are returning to compete in the CEV Volleyball Champions League for the first time since the 2012-2013 season – when they hosted the Final Four at Burhan Felek Volleyball Hall in Istanbul and settled for fourth place.
4.    Middle blocker Milena Rasic will be trying to add further accolades to her resume – in 2017, she completed a hat trick of titles, winning the Champions League and Club World Championship with VakifBank plus gold at the 2017 women’s EuroVolley with the Serbian national team.

5.    Maritza PLOVDIV qualified to the group stage in only their second appearance in the competition – and they did so in dramatic style after coming back from two sets down to pull out a 3-2 away victory and take the all-deciding Golden Set in their third-round fixture with Russia’s Yenisei KRASNOYARSK. No other Bulgarian women’s team has ever participated in the League Round of the CEV Volleyball Champions League. Poland’s Developres SkyRes RZESZOW have achieved the same feat in their first participation in the competition as well.

6.    Three previous winners of the CEV Volleyball Champions League will be chasing further glory. These are VakifBank ISTANBUL (gold medallists in 2011, 2013 and 2017), Fenerbahce SK ISTANBUL (2012) and Dinamo KAZAN (2014).

7.    By finishing fourth in the last edition of their national league, last year’s bronze medallists Eczacibasi VitrA failed to secure a spot to participate in the 2018 edition of the CEV Volleyball Champions League – as a result, they will compete in the CEV Cup this season. On the other hand, titleholders VakifBank had to start their title defence from the 3rd Round since they had finished ‘only’ third in their last national championship.

8.    As a result, the MVP of the 2017 women’s EuroVolley, Tijana Boskovic will miss this year’s CEV Volleyball Champions League – but together with Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL, she is likely to provide some of the highlights in this year’s CEV Cup.

9.    Azerbaijan’s superstar Polina Rahimova returns to the European stage for the first time since the 2013-2014 season after spending three years in Asia – she will be trying to spearhead Turkey’s Fenerbahce SK ISTANBUL in their effort to claim a second CL crown, the first since their historic success in 2012.

10.    A five-time winner of the Champions League, Italy’s Francesca Piccinini will seek further glory when wearing the shirt of Italy reigning national champions Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA. Piccinini will be sharing that journey together with the rising star of Italian Volleyball, Paola Egonu – who will be making her European Cups debut this year shortly before she turns 19. 

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