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02/03/2020 15:30
CEV Cup, Challenge Cup semifinalists to emerge this week
CEV Volleyball Cup 2020 / CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup 2020

Luxembourg, March 2, 2020.  15 quarterfinal matches are set to be played on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week to determine 14 of the 16 semifinalists in Europe’s second and third-tier club competitions – the CEV Volleyball Cup 2020 and the CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup 2020 in both genders. Two of the matches that were going to be played in Italy have been postponed to a later date yet to be determined.

CEV Cup - Women

All four of the first-leg quarterfinals in the women’s CEV Cup finished in three or four sets. If there is one team capable of reversing their negative result in the second leg, then it is most probably defending trophy-holders Unet e-work Busto Arsizio. However, their home game with Russian powerhouse Dinamo Kazan that was supposed to be played on March 4 has been postponed, because of the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy.

In the other match-up in that bracket, SSC Palmberg Schwerin entertain Belgium’s Asterix Avo Beveren on Tuesday at 19:00 local time in Germany with a comfortable 3-1 advantage from the away game in the first leg.

Felix Koslowski, head coach of SSC Palmberg Schwerin: “Asterix have nothing to lose. They are going to serve well. We have to be present and ready at all times.”

Louisa Lippmann, opposite of SSC Palmberg Schwerin: “We have to stay concentrated and focused on what we are able to play. Especially good serving and block-defence will be very important.”

Poland’s Grupa Azoty Chemik Police and France’s Volero Le Cannet seem to be heading towards a semifinal encounter with each other as they both travelled back from their first-leg matches with convincing wins. For the return games, Chemik host Mladost Zagreb in this week’s opening match on Tuesday at 18:00 local time at the Netto Arena in Szczecin, hoping to capitalise on the straight-set victory in Croatia, and Volero welcome Minchanka Minsk on Thursday at 20:00 local time at the Gymnase Maillan after winning by 3-1 in Belarus.

CEV Cup - Men

The all-Turkish clash between Arkas Izmir and Galatasaray HDI Istanbul is the one that looks the most unpredictable in the men’s CEV Cup second-leg quarterfinals. On Wednesday, at 19:00 local time at the Ataturk Voleybol Salonu in Izmir, Arkas will try to recover from the four-set loss they suffered in Istanbul last week. The eventual winner of this match-up will have to wait before finding out the name of their semifinal opponent as the game between Italy’s Leo Shoes Modena and France’s GFC Ajaccio has been postponed because of the coronavirus spread.

Glenn Hoag, head coach of Arkas Izmir: "We have to focus on our play. We didn’t play our best game in Istanbul and made too many unforced errors. We need to reduce our errors and, with our fans’ support in Izmir, we want to win the game and get to the semifinals. We believe that it will be a match that the Volleyball enthusiasts in Izmir will truly enjoy. We are going to compete with all we have to succeed."

Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Haching managed to take two sets from a dramatic home game against Zenit Saint Petersburg, but now the German side have to travel to Russia for the return match, which will start on Tuesday at 19:30 local time at the Sibur Arena. Gyorgy Grozer, the superstar of Zenit, will try to replicate the superb performance he delivered in the last round of the Russian league, where he registered 29 points against Yenisei Krasnoyarsk - the best scoring performance in the competition this year so far. Zenit have a terrific record of 12 wins in 13 European Cup matches - their only loss came in the CEV Champions League quarterfinals last year to PGE Skra Belchatow of Poland.

The other Russian team in the competition, Lokomotiv Novosibirsk, hammered out an emphatic shutout of visiting Lindemans Aalst last Wednesday, but the second match next Wednesday will be played at Belgium’s Sportcentrum Schotte, starting at 20:30 local time.

Challenge Cup - Women

In the second leg of the women’s Challenge Cup quarterfinals it will be most interesting to see how experienced European Cup regulars Dresdner SC will react after their four-set loss at Greece’s AO Thiras Santorini in the first leg. The second-leg encounter in Germany is scheduled on Wednesday at 19:00 local time at the Margon Arena in Dresden.

The eventual winner of that series will most likely face THY Istanbul in a duel for a spot in the big final. After an emphatic straight-set win in the first leg in Austria, the strong Turkish representative will host ASKO Linz-Steg on Wednesday at 18:00 local time at the Burhan Felek, only a few days after Linz retained their Austrian national cup title on Sunday in Graz.

Beziers VB and Olympiacos Piraeus are well on their way to a semifinal date with each other as both teams took three-point away victories in the first leg. The French squad shut out Ladies in Black Aachen in Germany before entertaining them at the Four a Chaux on Wednesday at 20:00 local time, while the Greek powerhouse claimed a 3-1 win over Swietelsky Bekescsaba in Hungary before welcoming the opponents to the Melina Merkouri in this week’s European Cups opener on Tuesday at 17:30 local time.

Challenge Cup - Men

Sporting Club Lisboa took away a five-set victory from their trip to Hungary last week, a small, but precious advantage in the race with Penzugyor Budapest towards the semifinals. In the very last game on this week’s European Cups programme, the Portuguese team and their Hungarian opponents will kick off their second-leg encounter on Thursday at 20:00 local time at the Pavilhao Joao Rocha in Lisbon.

By the beginning of that match, they will probably know who their next opponent will be if they advance to the semifinals, as Estonia’s Saaremaa VC and Italy’s Allianz Powervolley Milano, who have not started their quarterfinal series yet, will most likely have finished it by then. After postponing their first-leg game, which was supposed to be played in Milan last week, the two fixtures will be played in Kuressaare on Wednesday and Thursday, at 19:00 and 18:00 local time, respectively.

On paper, the Italians still have an advantage and are surely the favourites, but the hosts are hoping to show their supporters their maximum power as well. The home team already made history by reaching the quarterfinals, so they can play pressure-free. There are additional tribunes placed in the hall in Kuressaare, so everyone would fit in, thus accounting for 1,800 seats and hopefully an awesome atmosphere.
“My team is ready for the challenge, although the quarterfinal matches in Credit24 Champions League are not the best kind of preparation for a team like Milano – the level of the two leagues is just so different. I am realistic, knowing that if Milano is playing 100%, it will be very difficult for us to beat them. But if the opponent is not ‘all there’ and we are able to play our best game, then we have a chance here,” said Ioannis Kalmazidis, head coach of Saareemaa. “I am happy our fans can see two great matches and hope to see lots of supporters,” Kalmazidis added.
Roberto Piazza, head coach of Allianz Powervolley:
“We have been on a break for a long time due to postponed matches in Italy, so we will see what the situation is when we step onto the court in Estonia. We will play two difficult matches against a team that has some interesting foreigners and knows how to play Volleyball well. We are able to win these games but we must play 100% respecting the opponent.”

Rennes Volley 35 and Spor Toto SC Ankara achieved convincing straight-set victories in the first leg of the Challenge Cup quarterfinals, but have to travel for their second-leg fixtures before securing a semifinal encounter with each other. Rennes are set to visit Montpellier Castelnau UC for an all-French duel on Wednesday at 20:00 local time. Two hours earlier, the Turkish team will meet VK CEZ Karlovarsko in Czechia’s spa resort city of Karlovy Vary.

For more info, go to the CEV Cup 2020 and the CEV Challenge Cup 2020 sections.

News nr. 3 of 39
04/03/2020 23:31:00
First men’s Challenge Cup semifinal set
26/02/2020 22:15:00
Rennes shut out Montpellier in all-French Challenge Cup clash

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