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10/04/2016 21:06
Pomì CASALMAGGIORE cap memorable 12 months by winning their first CEV DenizBank Champions League
2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Women

Montichiari, Italy, April 10, 2016. Pomì CASALMAGGIORE won the 2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women after beating VakifBank ISTANBUL 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) in the gold medal match at PalaGeorge.  

The result completed a remarkable 12 months for the Italian side who won their first national title last season before competing in the Champions League for the first time. After progressing from the pool stage they opted to host the Final Four and what a good decision it was. They became the first Italian team to win the title since Volley BERGAMO were victorious in the 2009/10 edition.  

The match is the biggest in women’s European club volleyball and the atmosphere was fitting for such an occasion. Pomì fans decked out in pink clothing packed out the hall and made it quite a spectacle by revving up their fellow fans with a combination of drums and megaphones. In the first set, Pomì edged ahead after three points, but it was the Turkish side that dominated and they led 8-7 at the first technical time-out. VakifBank’s travelling contingent were being drowned out in the stands, but on the court their side held their own against a Pomì side who had nothing to lose having reached this stage for the first time in their history. Francesca Piccinini, who had won the competition three times with Volley BERGAMO, delivered a superb ace to tie the teams level 15-all. Vakif led 20-19, but Pomì stormed back to lead 23-20. With the first set in sight, VakifBank again came back and an ace from Kimberly Hill put the teams on level terms at 23-23. However, it was Pomì‘s set with Jovana Stevanovic contributing six points. It was the veteran Piccinini who again came up with the goods to win a pulsating set 25-23.

It was more of the same as the second set commenced. Pomì showed why they knocked out Dinamo KAZAN in their semi-final and they had the wind in their sails against a Vakif side who had already bettered their campaign last season when they finished third in the competition by beating Chemik POLICE. They established a five-point gap at 15-10 as Stevanovic continued to do the damage. Sheilla Castro was introduced by Vakif coach Giovanni Guidetti and she immediately reduced the deficit, but Pomì led 16-13 at the second technical time-out. The teams were on terms again at 20-20, but Pomì got two sets points at 24-22. They wasted one when Castro struck once more en-route to being Vakif’s top scorer in the second set. However, Stevanovic powered a spike through the VakifBank defence to win 25-23 and send the crowd wild in the process.

Pomì and their fans knew they were just 25 points from victory and a huge noise was generated at the top of the final set as Vakif served first. Stevanovic was in her prime as she delivered point after point. She had won silver with her national team, Serbia at the World Cup last year but it was to be gold this time around with her club, who oozed confidence at the net.  The lead changed hands a couple of times in the early stages but MVP Piccinini was mopping up for the hosts. They led by two at 22-20 and sealed the win when Piccinini delivered a block kill.

The day was the hosts’ and fans flooded the court as the players saluted their most passionate fans in the curva at one end of the hall. It is a day that will live long in the memory to so many connected with the club, for so many different reasons.

Massimo Boselli Botturi, Pomì CASALMAGGIORE President: “This is without doubt the greatest joy of my entire career as Pomì president. We fulfilled a dream. To have the possibility of playing in the Champions League is obviously a great opportunity, first of all an opportunity to grow, because we competed on equal terms with Europe’s best teams.

“I must say thank you to all the girls, to the coaches and to the staff. Right now, I am the happiest president in the world and this is thanks to them. We are a young but ambitious team. We know that to become important, time and sacrifice are necessary, but successes like this one gives us the right incentives to go on working with care and passion.”  

Valentina Tirozzi, Pomì CASALMAGGIORE captain: “In volleyball it’s about who plays better, not who has the strongest team. I can’t explain how I feel. I have to look at this medal to realise that it’s true. My team is European champion and it was amazing to play this game. We were really focussed on the win and we never gave up. We knew VakifBank were strong but we played better than them today.”  

“From tomorrow we will think about the Italian championship because we want to go as far as we can. I am living a lot of first times with my team and it’s an amazing story. I can’t believe it.”  

Margareta Kozuch, Pomì CASALMAGGIORE: “It’s incredible. I’m really proud of what we did. We were working really hard and we had a lot of ups and downs during the season. We were able to transmit our performance over the two days and people were cheering for us and sending good energy. Together that’s what made the victory."  

“I didn’t expect the final to go as it did. We had VakifBank on the other side and they’ve already had a lot of success with a strong team. We believed we could win because it started 0-0. We said we would believe and do everything we could. The fans were important. Everybody who sent us energy is part of the victory of this cup.”

Dream Team

MVP: Francesca Piccinini (ITA/Pomì CASALMAGGIORE)
Best Setter: Carli Lloyd (USA/Pomì CASALMAGGIORE)
Best Opposite: Margareta Anna Kozuch (GER/Pomì CASALMAGGIORE)
Best Outside Spiker: Kim Yeon-Koung (KOR/Fenerbahce Grundig ISTANBUL)
Second Best Outside Spiker: Kimberly Hill (USA/VakifBank ISTANBUL)
Best Middle Blocker: Eda Erdem Dündar (TUR/Fenerbahce Grundig ISTANBUL)
Second Best Middle Blocker: Jovana Stevanovic (SRB/Pomì CASALMAGGIORE)
Best Libero: Hatice Gizem Örge (TUR/VakifBank ISTANBUL)

Final standing

2.    VakifBank ISTANBUL (TUR)
3.    Fenerbahce Grundig ISTANBUL (TUR)
4.    Dinamo KAZAN (RUS)

Click here for further information about the Final Four or visit the official website

A comprehensive gallery of the Final Four is available right here

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