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01/03/2021 13:35
#CLVolleyW semifinalists to emerge this week
CEV Champions League Volley 2021 - Women

Luxembourg, March 1, 2021. Two of the semifinalists in the CEV Champions League Volley 2021 - Women will become known on Wednesday of this week and the other two – on Thursday, as the return matches of the four quarterfinal series take place in Italy and Turkey.

The second-leg action will get underway on Wednesday at 19:00 local time in Italy where defending champions Igor Gorgonzola welcome Fenerbahce Opet Istanbul after a 3-1 victory in Turkey last week. The previous time these two sides met in the Champions League was in the pool stage of the 2018 edition, when Igor won both games, in five sets in Istanbul and in straight sets at home.

The next two times the club from Novara went against Turkish teams in the Champions League playoffs, they won the first games in Turkey, but lost the second ones at home. Against Galatasaray SK Istanbul in 2018, Igor Gorgonzola failed to advance, but they did win the thrilling golden set against VakifBank Istanbul in 2019.

The Italian team are on an 11-game winning streak in the Champions League, but after the last win in Istanbul, they suffered a four-set loss at home to another #CLVolleyW quarterfinalist, Unet e-work Busto Arsizio, in the domestic Italian league to finish the regular season in second place on a 19-5 win-loss record. Fenerbahce are also second at home, in Turkey, on a 26-3.

Stefano Lavarini, head coach of Igor Gorgonzola Novara: “We won the first game in Istanbul, but we are totally aware that this will have no meaning if we don’t complete our path to the semifinals in the second game. We will need a consistent performance and the best attitude in every single rally. Fenerbahce are an amazing team and I am sure they will fight harder than ever to achieve a comeback.”

Britt Herbots, outside hitter of Igor Gorgonzola Novara: “We expect to play a big clash on Wednesday night. Fenerbahce will push from the beginning to try and win the game and get the qualification, but we will push as well, starting from the serve and staying focused on the block-defence phase. We need to be patient, focused and determined: our biggest goal is to achieve a spot in the Champions League semifinals.”

Also on Wednesday and also in Italy, but starting at 20:30 local time at the Palaverde in Villorba, reigning club world champions A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano will try to get the job done in their clash with compatriots Savino Del Bene Scandicci after claiming a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the hosts of the first game last week.

All five of Savino Del Bene’s Champions League matches against other Italian teams, including the three encounters they have had with Imoco, went to five sets. Each of the two teams won their home game by 3-2 when they met previously in the pool stage of the 2019 edition. Since losing to Igor Gorgonzola Novara in the final of that edition, Imoco have been on a 14-game winning run in the Champions League.

They have yet to lose a match in the Italian championship this season. After a 3-1 win at Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri over the weekend, Imoco lead the domestic standings on a perfect 24-0 record. Savino Del Bene shut out Delta Despar Trentino Trento and are fourth in the standings on 15-8.

Daniele Santarelli, head coach of A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano:
“In the first leg for the first time this season we had to play a point-for-point match, with a comeback that made us struggle. It was important for us that the team adapted well to the sort of battle that we have been missing for some time. But it cannot always go well, so on Wednesday against a strong and very improved team like Savino Del Bene, we will have to play much better than we did last week, making fewer mistakes and playing patiently, paying close attention to the reception and putting pressure with our serve.”

Kimberly Hill, outside hitter of A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano:
“The first match in Scandicci was very tough, they are an excellent team and they put a lot of pressure on us. We won, but suffering too much, so when we return to Palaverde we absolutely have to play better, with intelligence and patience, taking off many of the mistakes that we made last week. We are preparing well to play a great game, our desire is to go through and play the semifinal.”

In the first of two games to be played in Istanbul on Thursday, VakifBank Istanbul entertain Grupa Azoty Chemik Police with a solid 3-0 advantage from the first encounter in Poland and hoping to extend their victorious quest in the Champions League to 15 consecutive matches.

Before travelling to Turkey, Chemik have a domestic game to play on Monday night, at home against Grot Budowlani Lodz. While VakifBank have already secured the pole position in the Turkish championship playoffs, the squad from Police are currently fourth (14-5) in the Polish league standings, but hoping to move up the ladder before the end of the regular season.

The rematch between the four-time continental champions and their Polish opponents at the VakifBank Spor Sarayi is scheduled at 17:00 local time.

Two and a half hours later, at the nearby Burhan Felek volleyball hall, Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul host Italy’s Unet e-work Busto Arsizio in the Match of the Week.

Unet’s 3-1 home win in last week’s first match of the quarterfinal series was their first over Eczacibasi in the European Cups and put an end to Eczacibasi’s 12-game winning run in the competition. When they first met in the Champions League, it was in the 2015 final, when the Turkish powerhouse shut out their Italian opponents. The team from Istanbul also won both matches in their eighthfinal clash in the 2018 CEV Volleyball Cup. For the squad from Busto Arsizio, the only previous victory over a Turkish rival in the Champions League was the 3-2 win over Galatasaray Daikin Istanbul for the bronze in 2013. Eczacibasi have lost their last two Champions League matches against Italian sides, after winning seven of their previous eight.

While Unet have followed up on their fourth consecutive Champions League win with a four-set away victory at Igor Gorgonzola Novara to improve to 14-9 in the sixth place of the Italian league standings, Eczacibasi have recovered from the loss, with a domestic win as well. After shutting out Beylikduzu Voleybol Ihtisas at home, they finished the regular season on 24-6 in the third place.

Nalan Ural, team manager of Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul: “Eczacibasi are a very experienced club in the European Cups. We fought until the end in Italy and will fight once again. With the great support of our coach, technical staff and captains, we have faith in securing a spot in the next round.”

Alessia Gennari, outside hitter and captain of Unet e-work Busto Arsizio: “I think it’s going to be a very difficult challenge for us, both because we will play away and because Eczacibasi will certainly be able to recover some players who are really important for their team. We have to expect a different match and for sure we have to raise our level and try to make fewer mistakes. It will be difficult, but we will certainly try to reconfirm, aware that we have a great advantage.”

All quarterfinal matches to be streamed live on EuroVolleyTV.

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