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01/02/2021 15:20
Four elite teams to resume Pool D race in Kaliningrad
CEV Champions League Volley 2021 - Women

Luxembourg, February 1, 2021. Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul and Allianz MTV Stuttgart will step on the court at the Yantarny hall in Kaliningrad at 16:00 local time on Tuesday to get this week’s CEV Champions League Volley 2021 action underway. The other two teams in the women’s Pool D, Dinamo Moscow and hosts Lokomotiv Kaliningrad Region, will follow at 19:00 to open their participation in the pool’s second round-robin tournament with an all-Russian battle. With the same starting times of the matches, the three-day event will continue on Wednesday and Thursday.

By decision of the Kaliningrad Oblast government, fans will be allowed to fill up to 50% of the stands at the sports palace and the organisers from the hosting club are doing everything possible to turn the event into a real celebration of volleyball.

Turkish powerhouse Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul are in a perfect position to target the first place in the final pool standings. At the first tournament, which they hosted in December, they won three in three and, despite losing a point in the five-setter against Allianz MTV, are well ahead of the others, who have won only a game each. Since the event in Istanbul Eczacibasi have played 10 Turkish league matches winning nine of them and rising to the third place in the current standings on a 21-5 win-loss record. In their last game before departing for Kaliningrad, their Serbian star Tijana Boskovic delivered a record-high 40 points towards a victorious turnaround from two sets behind against Galatasaray HDI Istanbul. In the most significant achievements in their club’s history, the Tigers won the continental crown in 2015 and two club world championship titles in 2015 and 2016.

Marco Aurelio Motta, head coach of Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul: “We are in the first place, but our group is tough. We’ll take it match by match. We start against (the team from) Stuttgart. They don’t have big stars, but have good teamwork. They are a good team and we need to keep our focus on this first match in our pool.”

Lokomotiv Kaliningrad Region are tied with Allianz MTV and Dinamo on number of wins, but after snatching a point in the loss to their Moscow compatriots and defeating the Germans in straight sets, they edge ahead to the second place in the table on four points, against three each for the two rivals. Since that shutout of Allianz in Istanbul, Lokomotiv had been on a six-game winning streak in the Russian Superliga until last Thursday, when they lost their most recent match to Leningradka Saint Petersburg in five sets. They are placed fourth in their domestic standings on a record of 13 wins and four defeats. In the meantime, there have been a couple of changes to their roster. Outside hitter Margarita Kurilo is expecting, so she has decided to take a break from her career. However, the squad from Kaliningrad has been joined by German star opposite Louisa Lippmann. For the youngest club in the Russian Superliga this is the second season in the Champions League. They made their debut last season and finished third in their pool.

Allianz MTV Stuttgart started their Champions League campaign well, by winning the first two sets against Eczacibasi in Istanbul. They ended up losing that match in the tie-break, but on the following day they managed to defeat Dinamo in five sets. Running out of steam and losing their third match in straight sets to Lokomotiv, Allianz finished the first tournament in third place, with the same number of wins, the same number of points and the same set ratio as Dinamo, edging the Russian giants on point ratio only. After the tournament in Turkey, the German team won four and lost one of their matches in their domestic league to stay in the lead of the standings, on a 12-2 win-loss record. Allianz’s Dutch outside Hester Jasper has recovered and is now ready to make her Champions League debut. The club from Stuttgart has also hired Norwegian Tore Aleksandersen as the team’s new head coach, but he will not be able to lead the squad in Russia, leaving these matches in the hands of his assistant Erik Reitsma. In their fourth Champions League campaign, Allianz MTV are hoping to reach the quarterfinals for the third time.

The most decorated club in the history of the competition, 11-time club continental champions Dinamo Moscow, may be bottom of the table, but by no means have given up hope to make the quarterfinals of this year’s edition. They have been on a victory run in the Russian Superliga after returning from Istanbul, improving to 16-1 to hold on to the top of the standings. The squad from Moscow also reached the national cup final, but lost it to Dinamo-Ak Bars Kazan in four sets.

All matches in Kaliningrad to be streamed live on EuroVolleyTV.

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