Berlin, Germany, March 29, 2015 – Cuban superstar Wilfedro Leon was in fine form as he helped Russian outfit Zenit Kazan clinch a third CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League crown in Berlin, Germany on Sunday and book their place at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship 2015.
The 21-year-old scored 18 points and was named man of the match as his side swept past Poland’s Asseco Resovia Rzeszow in straight sets (25-22, 25-23, 25-21) in the final.
Zenit Kazan were able to live up to their status as favourites for the title and added to the championships they won in 2008 and 2012. They will now travel to Belo Horizonte, Brazil from October 27 to November 1 looking to claim their first ever FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship.
The side also added another chapter to Russia’s supremacy in the competition, with teams from the volleyball stronghold having swept the last four titles in a row. It is also Russia’s seventh title in 15 years, making the country the most successful ever, edging Italy who boast five crowns. Zenit Kazan is one of only three teams – alongside Belogorie Belgorod and Trentino Volley – to have won Europe’s top league for three times.
As for Resovia, they had to settle for silver in their first Final Four appearance, a result which matches PGE Skra Belchatow’s achievement in 2012, tying them for the best finish of a Polish team since the CEV Volleyball Champions League was established in 2000.
“Today it was a very difficult situation for us because once again we were somehow obliged to win as we had travelled to Berlin with this only goal,” Zenit Kazan coach Vladimir Alekno said. “I would like to thank all the fans who have come to the arena this weekend and also the organisers of the Final Four. It has been an amazing and terrific volleyball weekend.”
The historic day began at the Max-Schmeling-Halle with hosts Berlin Recycling Volleys etching out a five set victory (25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 26-28, 23-21) over Poland’s PGE Skra Belchatow in the ‘small final’ to notch their first medal in Europe’s elite league. It adds to the bronze medals won by SCC Berlin – the team’s predecessors – in the 1999 edition of the CEV Volleyball Cup and in the 2010 CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup.
Once more Germany’s ‘Volleyball Temple’ was sold-out for the second and final day of the competition, with more than 9,000 in attendance as the local heroes also claimed Germany’s first medal in the CEV Volleyball Champions League since VfB Friedrichshafen had lifted the trophy back in 2007.
The men in orange were more determined than their opponents who had not yet recovered from the disappointment stemming from a heavy semifinal loss to Asseco Resovia Rzeszow on Saturday. Despite missing an opportunity to end the match in the fourth set, the ‘Berliner’ showed nerves of steel to eventually seize the tie-break after surviving three match balls and get the party started with an ace from Francesco De Marchi.
“Many thanks to this amazing crowd, we really have the best fans in the world,” Berlin Recycling Volley captain Scott Touzinsky said. “Three years ago we said that our goal was to make the Final Four of the Champions League and possibly to host it here in Berlin. I am sorry that we lost yesterday but the most important thing is that we came back strong today and we ultimately fulfilled our dream to win a medal. The medal now is here and it’s a joy we want to share with all of you. This was the longest and most demanding match I have played since a very long time. PGE Skra are one of the world’s top teams but thanks to our fighting spirit and our amazing supporters we were able to win a medal. We have been working really hard for the achievement of this goal.”
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