GT MCWCH2021 SDC TRE-19

Otavio played an important role in Sada Cruzeiro's victory with ten points

Teams from Brazil and Italy will meet in the gold medal match of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship for a second consecutive time as the semifinals of the 2021 edition of the tournament will feature an all-Brazilian matchup and an Italian derby in Betim on Friday.

Hosts Sada Cruzeiro and defending champions Cucine Lube Civitanova, who met in the 2019 gold medal match, remain undefeated after winning their pools at the Ginasio Poliesportivo Divino Braga on Thursday. They will now take on FUNVIC – Fundação Universitária Vida Cristã and Trentino Itas respectively. The Italians play earlier on Friday, at 17.00 local time, while the Brazilians are set to clash at 20.30 local time.

Three-time world champions Sada Cruzeiro had a solid performance against five-time winners Trentino and defeated the European vice-champions 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-18) to finish at the top of Pool B. Serving was key in the Brazilian victory as Sada Cruzeiro had six aces against none for the Italians.

“We honestly didn’t expect to win in three sets,” middle blocker Otavio Pinto, who scored ten points (six kills, two blocks, two aces), commented. “We prepared for a very difficult match and imagined it would be decided in the details. But our entire team played really well. We served and sided out at a very high rate and that makes things difficult for any team. Playing the World Championship here in Betim generates a great atmosphere and we need to take advantage of having the fans on our side.”

SDC VS. TRE - Match Highlights, 09/12/2021

Rio 2016 Olympic champion opposite and Sada Cruzeiro captain Wallace de Souza led his team’s scoring efforts with 13 points (11 kills, one block, one ace) while outside hitter Miguel Angel Lopez added 11 (all in kills). Italian rising star Alessandro Michieletto was the top scorer of the match with 16 points (15 kills, one block) but he was the only Trentino player to reach double digits.

“I think we played at a very good rhythm the entire match and perhaps they didn’t expect that,” Wallace reflected. “Our game plan was centred around serving well and we did that. We were also very consistent with our blocking and defence and this tactical discipline we showed helped us control the match. FUNVIC will be a tough opponent in the semifinals, we’ll need to do our best again to make it to the final.”

GT MCWCH2021 LUB FUN-13

Simon hits during Lube's triumph over FUNVIC

Defending champions Lube finished at the top of Pool A with their second straight-set victory in Betim, a 25-22, 25-20, 25-16 sweep of FUNVIC in the opening match of the day. Cuban outside hitter Marlon Yant led the Italian offence with a match-high 11 points (ten kills, one block).

“I’m really happy to play here in Betim and see my friends and my family,” said Ricardo Lucarelli, who was born and started his career in neighbouring Belo Horizonte. “I’m happy with what we did so far, but now we focus on the semifinal. We had some good results coming to this tournament, so we’re in a good place when it comes to confidence. I think we’re still making too many errors when serving, which is normal as we adjust to a new stadium, but that’s something we need to improve as it will be an important weapon for us in the semifinals.”

LUB VS. FUN - Match Highlights, 09/12/2021

Besides the victory, the Italians also celebrated the return of star opposite Ivan Zaytsev, who had been sidelined due to a knee surgery. The Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist came off the bench during the second set and ended the match with eight points (seven kills, one ace).

“I am very happy for our win and for scoring my first points for Lube in seven years,” the Italian said. “I had a lot of positive feelings out there. I tried my best to help the team and to get my legs going as tomorrow's match will be a big one.”

FUNVIC’s top scorers in the match were middle blocker Patrick ‘Pat’ Gasman, with nine points (eight kills, one block), and outside hitter Matheus Krauchuck, with eight (seven kills, one block).

“Our goal tonight was to have fun and make the most of the opportunity of playing one of the best teams in the world,” outside hitter Luciano Yudi explained. “It’s the first Club World Championship for most of our players and it’s important that we take advantage of this experience. We could have played a little bit better, but the match went about the way we expected. Now we prepare for the semifinals, which will be another tough battle for us.”

Watch all the action in Betim live or on demand. The men's and women's Club World Championships will both be streamed on Volleyball TV.