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18/02/2020 21:59
All Women's Champions League quarterfinalists confirmed at end of pool play
CEV Champions League Volley 2020 - Women

Luxembourg, February 18, 2020. Italy's Igor Gorgonzola Novara and Russia's Dinamo Moscow both topped their pools and automatically qualified to the quarterfinals of the Women's European Champions League as pool play wrapped up Tuesday across the continent.

Savino Del Bene Scandicci (5 wins), Fenerbahce Istanbul (4) and Allianz MTV Stuttgart (4) are the best of the second-ranked teams across the five pools and also make the last eight of the Champions League. That leaves out the two French sides in the competition, Nantes VB and RC Cannes who only managed three wins each in pool play.

Tuesday's five qualifiers join Turkey's Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul and VakifBank Istanbul, plus Italy's A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano who had already secured their tickets after the previous leg of pool play.

Eleven-time European champions (though not since 1977) Dinamo Moscow registered a most convincing 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-22) win at home in the Russian capital over RC Cannes in the first of the deciding matches on this closing day of pool play, to finish top of Pool E, despite their two deafeats earlier in the season.

After a bit of a slow start, Nataliya Goncharova picked up as the game wore on and finished on an impressive match high of 24 points, as Yana Shcherban provided some very solid receiving plus 12 points and Irina Fetisova produced 5 of her team's 13 blocks.

Fenerbahce Istanbul cruised past Finland's LP Salo with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-14) sweep that saw them finish second in Pool A - enough though for a ticket to the quarterfinals. Their crosstown rivals Eczacibasi had already secured the top position ahead of the day's action.

Cuba's Melissa Vargas was named MVP of the game after a match-high 17-point scoring performance - the only player across either team to go into double digits.

The 2015 European champions and two-time world champions Eczacibasi pulled off an impressive comeback to beat Budowlani Lodz 3-2 (17-25, 25-27, 25-19, 25-21, 15-7) at home in the Burhan Felek - though it was all rather moot, as already before the match Eczacibasi were already top of Pool A and through to the quarterfinals, and Lodz were out of contention.

Eczacibasi's Brazilian coach Marco Aurelio Motta seized the opportunity to rest his regular key players at the start of the match and it was only after these came on that the home side began their comeback. Eventually it was Serbia's Tijana Boskovic and Brazil's Natalia Pereira who brought the points in for Eczacibasi, at 22 each, though the Ukraine's Anastasiia Kraiduba bagged the match high of 33 for the Polish side.

In Pool B, meanwhile, VakifBank Istanbul, already qualified, secured top position in the final standings after shutting out Russia's Lokomotiv Kaliningrad Region 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-18) with Sweden's Isabelle Haak, once again unstoppable, producing a match high of 19 points.

Scandicci also advanced from Pool B after surviving a bit of a first-set scare in Maribor but arriving eventually at a 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-14) win over Branik.

Canada's Alexa Gray with 18 points and Serbia's Jovana Stevanovic with 17 (including 4 blocks and a 65% attacking efficiency) powered Scandicci, who overwhelmed the home side on the net.

Igor Gorgonzola Novara had already secured their quarterfinals berth ahead of their last game, following the other results of the day, but nonetheless went on to beat Poland's LKS Commercecon Lodz 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 26-24) and finish top of Pool C.

Novara came from behind in the third set and blew one match point before USA Megan Courtney brought it home with a block on Monika Bociek. Courtney was also Novara's best scorer on 12 points, but Bociek and Serbia's Katarina Lazovic each scored 13 for Lodz. Shortly before the start of the match, Novara's mentor Massimo Barbolini received the award for the CEV Women's Team Coach of the Year 2019 from CEV Vice-President, Mr Lubor Halanda.

A little earlier in the evening Allianz MTV Stuttgart had beaten Ukraine's Khimik Yuzhny 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-17) which guaranteed them a place in the quarterfinals regardless of their finish as first or second in the pool.

Stuttgart were led by USA's Krystal Rivers, top scorer of the game on 19 points.

In other 6th leg action across Europe, Imoco Volley Conegliano completed pool play undefeated following a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-17) win at home over Nantes. The Italian side, who were lifted by Paola Egonu's 22 points, had already secured top position in Pool D and a ticket to the quarterfinals since Leg 5 of the competition.

C.S.M. Volei Alba Blaj held off Vasas Obuda Budapest in Sibiu for a 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-21), but as it turned out this was not enough to topple Nantes from second place in the Pool D table, after both teams tied at 3 wins, 9 ranking points and 10-11 sets, but the French side prevailed on match point ratio (.99 to .94). This didn't matter anyway, as three wins were not enough to be amongst the three best of the second-ranked teams that made the quarterfinals. Alba Blaj tonight were led Serbia's Bianka Busa who scored 15 points.

And in Pool E, Maritza Plovdiv bowed out of the competition with a bang, dramatically beating once mighty Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg 3-2 (25-19, 21-25, 25-17, 22-25, 20-18). The point Maritza dropped would have seen them edge Cannes for second place on ranking points - but they wouldn't have made the quarterfinals anyway.

Maritza reached match point first at 14-11, but the Russian side made a 4-0 run to overturn that for 14-15. It was Uralochka's only match point, but it took Maritza another four to get the job done, as opposite Emiliya Dimitrova emerged MVP of the match.

Aleksandra Milanova was Maritza's best scorer, but Uralochka's Kseniia Parubets scored a match high of 27.

Match by match:

Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL (TUR) vs Budowlani LODZ (POL) 3-2 (17-25, 25-27, 25-19, 25-21, 15-7)

"Today, we wanted to use every player. The rhythm and tempo of all our players are very important for us. Considering that the season is long, we will keep playing with a wide squad. I would like to congratulate my players for finishing the group stage undefeated."

Marco Aurelio Motta, Eczacibasi VitrA head coach
"We have played very hard games. We are very happy that we won tonight. It was very important for us to complete the Champions League group stage undefeated. Unfortunately, injuries can be a part of this long journey. Hande [Baladin] got injured today in the first set. I hope she is fine. I hope she will get well soon - and recover as quickly as possible."
Natalia Pereira, Eczacibasi VitrA outside hitter
"It is nice to be in Istanbul again. It was a difficult game for us. Although we won the first two sets, we lost the match. But I think we played well because Eczacibasi are a hard opponent. They are one of the best teams in the world. I think Tijana Boskovic made the difference. She played very well against us and she was the reason why we lost."
Maria Stenzel, Budowlani Lodz libero

C.S.M. Volei Alba BLAJ (ROU) vs Vasas Obuda BUDAPEST (HUN) 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-21)

"As I have said before, unfortunately we lost the qualification in the first match in Nantes and this was a game in which we wanted to win, to finish the Champions League in the best possible way. It was not easy to motivate my team for this match, without any stakes, but we raised our level of play and I am glad that we won and satisfied our supporters who have been with us today as usual. All in all, it was good. We finished with our heads up and now we will think about what we have to do in our domestic competitions."
Darko Zakoc, C.S.M. Volei Alba Blaj head coach

Dinamo MOSCOW (RUS) vs RC CANNES (FRA) 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-22)

"We need to improve in attack and be much more relaxed and confident in the future. Anyway, I am happy with the result."
Zeljko Bulatovic, Dinamo Moscow head coach

"We are happy to enter the next round. It was a very important match for us, but it wasn't too stressful for us. I think, if we had felt very nervous we would have lost for sure. We just tried to show our level and play as confidently as we can."
Nataliya Goncharova, Dinamo Moscow opposite

"We were just a great team. I think that was the key of the game. RC Cannes played well in defense, but we support each other and organised good attacking and blocking to finally win the game."
Yana Shcherban, Dinamo Moscow outside hitter

"We were ready for the game, but we made mistakes. Dinamo played very confidently. So we tried to show something, but when you try and fail, sometimes you start to make mistakes. They played great."
Fatou Diouck, RC Cannes opposite

Maritza PLOVDIV (BUL) vs Uralochka-NTMK EKATERINBURG (RUS) 3-2 (25-19, 21-25, 25-17, 22-25, 20-18)

"To regret not having defeated a team like Uralochka more emphatically would be a bit cheeky. It was not unrealistic, but it was very difficult. We wanted to play a good game and we did. I want to thank the girls and everybody in our club. We should be proud of what we did. I sure am."
Ivan Petkov, coach of Maritza Plovdiv:

"I am extremely happy that we managed to battle it out in the end. It was tough, but with a great team effort we came out on top. I am very pleased by the popular support we enjoy here in Plovdiv and we expect the same when we come back here with the National Team in the European League."
Emiliya Dimitrova, Maritza Plovdiv opposite

"It was a great show for the people – a great match, a great fight between two similar teams. The Bulgarian team has one of the best defences that I ever saw in my life. The city is also very nice and it was a pleasure to play here."
Mikhail Karpol, Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg coach

VakifBank ISTANBUL (TUR) vs Lokomotiv KALININGRAD Region (RUS) 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-18)

"In the first set Kaliningrad played without making any errors. We did also pretty well. Maybe tonight was the best match of the season so far. I want to congratulate my players, because their performance was of very high level today."
Giovanni Guidetti, VakifBank head coach   

"In the first set it was maybe a little bit tough, but then we found our way to play better. Today our sideout and reception was of a high level. We were about 70%, which is really high. Our attackers were really able to score from any position. It was our goal to finish in first place in the pool, so we should be happy for that. And we are waiting to see who our opponent in the quarterfinals will be. We are improving as a team and this makes us really happy. We are focused on achieving our goals in all competitions. We remain one of the best clubs in the world and in Europe. We are always on the top and we are always working to stay on the top."
Maja Ognjenovic, VakifBank setter

"For us it was a debut [this year] in the Champions League and we finished all our games. This game was not perfect but as I said before it was a debut. I hope next season we will show something different."
Ekaterina Orlova, Lokomotiv Kaliningrad Region captain

Fenerbahce Opet ISTANBUL (TUR) vs LP SALO (FIN) 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-14)

"Today, everyone in our team contributed to the 3-0 score. It was important that we ended our last game in the group with a win. I congratulate my teammates. It was an enjoyable match for us."
Eda Erdem, Fenerbahce captain

"I am delighted to see me worthy of this [MVP of the match] award. I went on the court with great motivation and did my best. I am happy to take good advantage of the opportunity our coach gave me. We will do our best in the quarterfinals."
Melissa Vargas, Fenerbahce opposite

Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR (SLO) vs Savino Del Bene SCANDICCI (ITA) 1-3 (25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 14-25)

"The match was tough, so we are very happy to have won and made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, where we want to play well regardless of the opponent. We want to be satisfied with our game regardless of the result."
Ofelia Malinov, Savino Del Bene Scandicci setter

"Although we won our first set in this year's Champions League, we could have won another one with some good serving, since our opponents were quite vulnerable, especially in reception."
Anita Sobocan, Branik Maribor outside hitter

Allianz MTV STUTTGART (GER) vs Khimik YUZHNY (UKR) 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-17)

"We wanted to put everything we have into this game. We know that we can't change the past, but we wanted to turn around with tonight's game. I'm proud of our reaction also thanks to this great atmosphere. It was still a quite sad atmosphere this morning [after losing the national cup final on Sunday], but we wanted to make it to the quarterfinals tonight."
Roosa Koskelo, Stuttgart libero

"Tonight was a very difficult game for us, we had some difficult and hard matches the past few weeks especially
with the Cup final this weekend. We were tired so we couldn't show our best tonight but we move on."

Daria Stepanovska, Khimik outside hitter

"It was a difficult game, but in a great atmosphere here in Stuttgart."
Tetyana Kozlova, Khimik outside hitter

A. Carraro Imoco CONEGLIANO (ITA) vs NANTES VB (FRA) 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-17)

"It was not easy, because teams like Nantes against us play with nothing to lose and risk a lot. They put us in a bit of a difficult situation at the beginning of the first two sets, but then we found our best rhythm and we won this game too."
Chiaka Ogbogu, Conegliano middle blocker

"We played a good game against a very strong team like Conegliano. We are happy and proud of our performance even if it was not enough for a positive result."
Lucille Gicquel, Nantes outside hitter

Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA (ITA) vs LKS Commercecon LODZ (POL) 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 26-24)

"We are happy for having won the game and having achieved first place in our pool, which was not so easy after our loss in Stuttgart. It was important for us to win well and the girls were good in coming back and winning the third set."
Massimo Barbolini, Igor Gorgonzola Novara head coach

"For us this is a very important win. We really wanted to achieve a spot in the quarterfinals and it was important to get it as the first in our pool. We wait for the drawing of lots to discover our next opponents, but we know from now on there are only the best clubs in Europe and so we will need to do our best to move on in the competition."
Elitsa Vasileva, Igor Gorgonzola Novara outside hitter

"Congratulations to Novara for the performance and for the win. We did our best to win at least in the third set, but we could not make it. I am proud of our fans, they are wonderful and they gave us a big show also tonight, always supporting the team. I have a long experience but they are just the best ever. From now on, we can focus on our main goal: the Polish League."
Giuseppe Cuccarini, LKS Commercecon Lodz head coach

Click here for further information on CEV Champions League Volley 2020.

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