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13/05/2014 12:23
International “family” makes history for Russia at Men's Club World Championship
News from the FIVB

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 13, 2014.  After the historic first Russian triumph at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship, the Belogorie BELGOROD players were not the only ones shaken. Their mobile phones were also overheating due to the sheer volume of calls and text messages, even despite their momentous victory in Belo Horizonte coming in the middle of the night back home in Russia.

“We were delighted, we won this tournament for our country,” said coach Gennady Shipulin. “We wanted to make the people back home happy and proud.”

The Belogorie squad can be particularly proud of becoming the first team from volleyball power Russia to win the FIVB Men’s Club World Championship on the tournament’s 10th anniversary. Zenit KAZAN was third in 2009 and 2011, while CSKA MOSCOW finished runner-up in 1989, back in the days of the Soviet Union – a feat repeated last year by Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK.

The historic success was Belogorie’s fourth title of the season, after previously winning the Russian Cup, the Russian Super Cup and the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men.  The latest triumph came in Belo Horizonte at the same venue, at which the Russian national team had celebrated its first title in the FIVB Volleyball World League back in 2002, and with the same coach, Gennady Shipulin.

“I have already said, it is my city,” exclaimed the overjoyed coach of the winning team. “I had a great win in the World League 12 years ago, and now we have this title for Russia. This is our lucky place, here in Brazil.”

However, the Champions League winners’ latest triumph had little to do with luck and far more to do with an outstanding team performance.  They defeated defending champions and hosts Sada Cruzeiro BELO HORIZONTE by 3:1 en route to the title – a score they repeated against Argentina’s UPCN SAN JUAN, who went on to finish third. The star line-up of Qatar’s AL-RAYYAN was then also dispatched by 1:3 in the final.

Five wins in five days is only possible for a team in peak physical condition and with a fantastic team spirit. The latter was ultimately the secret to Belogorie’s success.

“We are a great team, we are a family,” said Shipulin.

An international family, as Italian setter Dragan Travica and German opposite György Grozer were amongst the lynchpins of the successful team.

“I think that was the team’s heart, we played like a team,“ said Grozer. “This tournament had a very high level and that made things difficult for us, but like I said, we are a team. We are very good friends, we worked very hard and thus we achieved this victory.”

Dmitriy Muserskiy also proved to be a guarantee of success. Together with Grozer, he contributed 18 points towards the team’s triumph and was ultimately named MVP – an accolade he is becoming rather accustomed to receiving. And then there was the Belogorie institution Sergey Tetyukhin, who was named in the championship’s ideal line-up as outside hitter. Incidentally, the 38-year-old was also a member of the 2002 Russian national team that won the World League for the first time in Belo Horizonte under coach Shipulin.

A shower of confetti rained down upon these stars of the international volleyball scene after their success. Overjoyed, they furiously took selfies like small children. The fact that they had also just won $200,000 in prize money was almost forgotten in the celebrations.

Russia’s maiden success was not the only reason the 10th anniversary of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship was a historic event. Qatar’s AL-RAYYAN became the first team from that region ever to make it onto the podium at the competition for the best club teams in the world. The team had signed international stars Matey Kaziyski, Raphael de Oliveira, Michael Sanchez and Robertlandy Simon, specifically to strengthen its squad for the showdown between the world’s top club teams – and the investment paid off.

AL-RAYYAN ended the hosts’ dreams of a successful title defense in the semifinals, only losing out to Belogorie in the final.  Four players subsequently received individual awards.

“This is a historical achievement for Qatari volleyball and also for the entire region,” said coach Igor Aburtina. “Belogorie was just too good for us.  It is the strongest team in the world right now.”

UPCN also achieved a first, defeating Sada Cruzeiro by 3-2 in the third place playoff to become the first club from Argentina to take its place on the podium at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship.

“I still cannot believe this," said captain Demian Gonzalez.

Another shock came when record winners TRENTINO, who had been given a wild card entry into the tournament, were knocked out in the preliminary round. They had won the title four times in a row between 2009 and 2012, led at the time by Kaziyski, who was in action for AL-RAYYAN this year.

In 2013, the title went to a team outside of Europe for the first time.  Belogorie’s latest victory brings the title back to Europe – with nine victories, the most successful continent in the history of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship.

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