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25/11/2019 11:00
Defending #CLVolleyW champs off to Germany for Match of the Week
CEV Champions League Volley 2020 - Women

Luxembourg, November 25, 2019.  The second leg of the pool stage in the CEV Champions League Volley 2020 - Women is set to take place at 10 different venues across the continent from Tuesday through Thursday of this week, with title-holders Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA’s away game at Allianz MTV STUTTGART on Wednesday selected as the much anticipated Match of the Week.

With Serbian star Jovana Brakocevic Canzian spearheading the attack, the Italian squad from Novara started off their Pool C campaign last week on the wings of a speedy home victory against qualifiers from the third round Khimik YUZHNY, while the German side from Stuttgart travelled to neighbouring Poland for an exciting five-setter at ŁKS Commercecon ŁÓDŹ, which they lost despite an impressive blocking performance and a 26-point contribution from USA’s Krystal Rivers. Allianz MTV are ready to welcome Igor Gorgonzola at the SCHARRena on November 27 at 19:00 local time.

• Allianz MTV STUTTGART and Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA met in last season's quarterfinals, their first Champions League meetings.
• Igor Gorgonzola won both matches: 3-1 in Stuttgart and 3-2 in Novara. Paola Egonu (currently playing for A. Carraro Imoco CONEGLIANO) was Igor Gorgonzola's top scorer in both matches, tallying 33 points away and 18 at home.
• Allianz have not played against any other Italian side in the Champions League, while Igor Gorgonzola have not met any other German team in the competition.
• Italian teams have won 13 of their 18 Champions League matches against German sides.

• This is Allianz MTV STUTTGART's third Champions League campaign, after 2015-2016 and 2018-2019.
• Last season, Allianz started their campaign in the second round and reached the quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by opponents Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA. In 2015-2016, they were eliminated in the pool phase.
• Allianz have lost their last three Champions League matches, including this season's opener against LKS Commercecon LÓDZ (3-2). Allianz could lose four successive Champions League matches for the first time.
• Allianz have lost all nine of their Champions League matches in which they lost the opening set. The Germans have won nine of their 10 Champions League matches in which they won the opening set, with the 3-2 defeat against LKS Commercecon LÓDZ in this season's opener as the only exception.
• Allianz have lost both of their five-setters in the competition.
• Only A. Carraro Imoco CONEGLIANO's Paola Egonu (28) has scored more points in the fourth round than Krystal Rivers (26).
• Martina Samadan won seven points from stuff blocks, joint-most for a player in the fourth round alongside A. Carraro Imoco CONEGLIANO's Joanna Wolosz.

Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA
• Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA are the defending champions. They won their first Champions League title last season in their third participation in the competition (also 2015-2016, 2017-2018).
• Igor Gorgonzola can become the fourth team to win successive Champions League titles, after RC CANNES (2002-2003), Volley BERGAMO (2009-2010) and VakifBank ISTANBUL (2017-2018).
• Igor Gorgonzola could join VakifBank (4), Volley BERGAMO (4), RC CANNES (2) and Colussi Sirio PERUGIA (2) on multiple Champions League titles.
• Last season, Igor Gorgonzola became the first team, since the CEV introduced the current format of the Champions League in 2007-2008, to not drop a single set in the pool stage of the competition. Igor Gorgonzola opened their 2019-2020 campaign with a 3-0 win against Ukrainian rookies Khimik YUZHNY.
• Igor Gorgonzola won 11 of their last 12 Champions League matches, with a 3-1 defeat against VakifBank in last season's semifinals as the only exception.
• Jovana Brakocevic Canzian (20) scored the most points for Igor Gorgonzola in this season's opener against Khimik YUZHNY (3-0).
• Micha Danielle Hancock won five points from serves, joint-most for a player in the fourth round alongside Budowlani LÓDZ's Charlotte Leys.
•    It is the third time in their history that NOVARA play a European game in Germany. In the previous such matches, they lost in Schwerin (CEV Cup quarterfinals during the 2014-2015 season) and won in Stuttgart (Champions League quarterfinals last season).
•    After a very positive debut in the Champions League, NOVARA lost 1-3 in the last Italian League game vs Saugella MONZA (titleholders of the CEV Challenge Cup).
•    Only three players from Novara (Cristina Chirichella, Stefania Sansonna and Stefana Veljkovic) featured in last season’s quarterfinal matches with STUTTGART.

Ioannis Athanasopoulos, head coach of Allianz MTV STUTTGART: “Igor Gorgonzola are a dream team. Their line-up is one of the best in the world. They have one of the best coaches in the world and they are the champions of last year’s Champions League. This is a good test for where we stand as a team, because it is our first match of the season where we are not forced to win. I hope we are able to perform very freely.”

Krystal Rivers, captain of Allianz MTV STUTTGART: “Igor Gorgonzola are always a tough opponent, as we know from last year. We are very excited to play them again. They are a very strong team and we want to give them a strong match.”

Cristina Chirichella, captain of Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA: “After our winning debut, we need another positive result to keep our position at the top of the standing and approach in the best possible way our next games. We must not think about the result of the first game, especially since STUTTGART always play at their best in front of their fans and we experienced it last season, when we saw how hard it is to achieve a victory in their sports hall. We expect a very tough game and we know that we must be focused and determined from the first rally to the last one.”

Massimo Barbolini, head coach of Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA:
“We will face a team with a good international experience and I expect a very big battle on the court, like it happened last season. For sure, STUTTGART will do their best to achieve a victory after losing their first match, but on the other hand, we will push hard to extend our winning streak. We will need to deliver our best performance to achieve a victory.”

The Champions League week opens on Tuesday in Yuzhny, where ŁKS Commercecon will try to build upon their first-leg victory with a win over Ukrainian hosts Khimik, starting at 18:00 local time. It is the first match from the group stage of the CEV Champions League to take place in Ukraine since January 11, 2005 when Lokomotiv KHARKIV beat PARIS Volley 3-1 in the men’s competition. ŁKS Commercecon ŁÓDŹ boast a series of four wins in a row while Khimik have lost two out of their last three matches. A women’s team from the region of Odessa takes part in the CEV Champions League for the first time since 1961 when Burevestnik ODESSA claimed the trophy of the Champions Cup on home soil beating Bulgaria’s Slavia SOFIA.

After a thrilling all-Turkish five-set drama in the first leg’s Match of the Week, in which Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL overpowered Fenerbahce Opet ISTANBUL, the two Bosporus giants split ways for their second-leg games in Pool A. Led by Brazilian star Natalia Zilio Pereira, who scored a fantastic 26 points towards that win, Eczacibasi VitrA now travel to Finland for their encounter with LP SALO on Tuesday at 19:00 local time. 47 hours later, in the Turkish megalopolis, Fenerbahce Opet will try to claim their first victory of the season as they entertain Poland’s Budowlani ŁÓDŹ in what could become a scoring race between Cuba’s Melissa Vargas (23 points against Eczacibasi) and Ukraine’s Anastasiia Kraiduba (25 points in Budowlani’s 3-1 home win over LP SALO last week). Kelsey Robinson, player of Fenerbahce: “All Champions League matches are really tough and I think our eyes are set on the next match. We are excited to play and excited to hopefully have a good performance.”

Italy’s Savino Del Bene SCANDICCI dropped a big surprise in Turkey last week, upsetting the most decorated club of the current decade, VakifBank ISTANBUL, in a Pool B five-set encounter. Mexico’s Samantha Bricio, who top scored 15 points towards that success, and her Savino Del Bene teammates take on Lokomotiv KALININGRAD Region this week. The Russian rookies also started off with a win as they crushed Slovenia’s Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR in Kaliningrad, so the winners of Wednesday’s game in Siena (at 20:30 local time) will remain the only unbeaten team in the pool. It is the first Champions League match to take place in Siena, at a venue which previously hosted many matches from the elite EuroLeague Basketball. Also on Wednesday, VakifBank will vie for their first victory as they travel to Maribor for a meeting with Nova KBM Branik.

The first leg in Pool D produced some surprising results, so the second-leg encounters coming up this week look more than promising. Hungarian newcomers Vasas Óbuda BUDAPEST, who managed to take two sets when visiting heavy favourites A. Carraro Imoco CONEGLIANO in Italy, will make their group stage home debut on Tuesday at 19:00 local time, against France’s NANTES VB, who upset Romanian standouts and 2018 Champions League runners-up C.S.M. Volei Alba BLAJ with a 3-1 home victory. It is not the first time that Vasas Óbuda BUDAPEST are playing NANTES VB, since the two teams locked horns in the CEV Challenge Cup two years ago as well. The French team won both games back then, a five-set thriller in Hungary followed by an easy 3-0 shutout in France. Ana Tiemi, captain of Vasas Óbuda, spent two years playing for NANTES VB before joining the Hungarian side. It is a historic game for Vasas Óbuda BUDAPEST as it will be their first-ever home match in the group stage of the CEV Champions League. The match will be taking place at Érd Aréna, which usually hosts the finals of the Hungarian Cup.

It should be no less interesting on Wednesday in Tirgu Mures, where Alba face the tough challenge of welcoming the stellar squad from Conegliano. Paola Egonu had to come in as a sub to help change the course of last week’s match against Vasas with a smashing tally of 28 points, so it is most likely Imoco’s world-class opposite will be on the starting line-up in Romania.

“We leave for Romania in the wake of a good period as we come from many victories. CS.M. Volei Alba BLAJ are a team with players of much international experience and for years they have been playing in the European Cups,” said Imoco coach Daniele Santarelli. “Therefore, their loss in France to NANTES VB was a surprise to me, but this should not make us relax. They do not have many points of reference; they often change the starting six and have many good players coming in from the bench, and playing at their home will require maximum concentration. The important thing will be to start well, avoid the rather soft approach we had in the first match with Vasas Obuda BUDAPEST and try to show immediately our desire to win and take another step forward towards taking first place in the pool.”

The second most-decorated team in the history of the competition, eight-time winners Uralochka-NTMK EKATERINBURG, lost the all-Russian clash at Dinamo MOSCOW last week in four sets and placed themselves in a must-win situation for their first home match, in the second leg of Pool E this week. However, Kseniia Parubets (21 points against Dinamo) and the rest of the legendary Russian team have to cope with the resistance of France’s RC CANNES led by middle blocker Mira Todorova, who registered an impressive 81% success rate in attack towards a 3-1 home win over Maritza PLOVDIV last Tuesday. The game in Ekaterinburg starts at 19:00 local time on Wednesday. After hammering out 26 points against Uralochka, Nataliya Goncharova will lead Dinamo in their first away match of the season as the team from Moscow, all-time leader in Europe’s premier club tournament with 11 continental titles, visit the Bulgarian champions in Plovdiv at 18:30 local time, also on Wednesday.

All Champions League games are streamed live on EuroVolleyTV.
For more info on the competition, go to the CEV Champions League Volley 2020 - Women section.
Click here for a comprehensive TV schedule of this week's matches.

News nr. 35 of 66
25/11/2019 15:00:00
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21/11/2019 20:00:00
Four sets victory for Dinamo MOSCOW in seasonal #CLVolleyW debut

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