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Manila 'in the eye of the storm' ahead of Club Worlds

 


Manila, Philippines, October 16, 2016 - Weather-wise, it's been a miserable weekend in Manila with high winds gusting at over 200 kph and steady rain, as the Philippine capital suffered the effects of Typhoon Sarika which made landfall Sunday morning northeast of the city. But the weather has hardly dampened the mood of volleyball fans in the country, as the 2016 FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship is around the corner.

In what the country's President Rodrigo Duterte has declared 'Month of Volleyball' eight of the world's top clubs, featuring a host of Olympians from the Rio 2016 Games, take to the court Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City of Metro Manila, vying for top honours of the premier club competition in the world.

Already thousands of fans turned out Saturday morning at Robinsons Place Mall in the Ermita district of Manila for a 'meet-and-greet' session with some of the competition's star players.


Thousands gathered for the 'meet-and-greet' session Saturday in Manila.

Heading the pack, defending champions Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul are out to make history. After becoming the third Turkish side to win the title last year in Zurich, Eczacibasi are aiming at celebrating their 50th anniverary by becoming the first club ever to win the world title for a second time.


Highlights of the 2015 final between Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul and Dinamo Krasnodar.

Eczacibasi's crosstown Istanbul rivals Vakifbank can also claim that distinction, after their 2013 world title, also in Zurich. In fact, VakifBank can claim their third medal in the competition, as they hold a silver from 2011 in Doha.

But Italy's Pomi Casalmaggiore are out to challenge the Turkish domination and keep the tradition going of the reigning European champions also collecting the world title in the same year - as has been the case for the previous three seasons with VakifBank in 2013, Dinamo Kazan of Russia in 2014 and Eczacibasi in 2015.

Though they're placed in the 'pool of death', together with Eczacibasi, Pomi and hosts PSL-F2 Logistics of Manila, Brazil's Rexona-Sesc of Rio de Janeiro could pose a threat to the Turkish domination and to Pomi's aspirations.

The European lineup in Manila is completed by Swiss champions Volero Zurich, who climbed on the FIVB Club World Championship podium for the first time last year with a third place, after two failed attempts in the bronze medal matches of 2013 and 2015.

This European front is about to be tested by reigning Brazilian and South American champions Rexona-Sesc Rio de Janeiro, fresh from also claiming the domestic Supercup last week. They come with renewed energy after their mishap last year in failing to make the podium. They had previously clinched a silver medal as Unilever in 2013.

The three Asian challengers in the competition are theoretically underdogs, but all have their strong points and waiting to pounce on any weakness the favourites may show.

Hosts PSL-F2 Logistics of Manila, an all-star team of the Philippines Super League strengthened by several foreign players will have the huge support of the home crowd in the 15,000-capacity Mall of Asia Arena - and they should also enjoy the services of captain Rachel Anne Daquis, who seems to be recovering well from a recent ankle injury.

Japan's Hisamitsu Springs, already confirmed as hosts of the 2017 edition in their home base in Kobe, will be looking at finishing the job they started last year in Zurich, when they stunned the world with an opening-match win over eventual gold medallists Eczacibasi.


Risa Ishibashi celebrates Hisamitsu Springs' upset win over Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul last year in Zurich.

And Thailand mark a return to the competition after a three-year hiatus, with national champions Bangkok Glass keeping Thai fans on edge as they attempt to better the two 5th-place finishes of Federbrau Bangkok in 2010 and 2011. Bangkok Glass will be playing in an all-white kit in mourning for the passing of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej who died last Thursday.

The 2016 FIVB Club World Championship will provide fans on site, on TV and online with technological innovations set to keep the sport evolving. On top of the hawkeye challenge system and the use of high technology to assist referees and help run the competition, a new ball transport system will be tested - in addition to the use of the tri-colour Gerflor floor.

But above all, the competition will give fans worldwide the opportunity to witness the world's finest in action in their first international appearances since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Quick links:
- FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship Manila 2016 - Website
- FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship Manila 2016 - Results & Schedule
- FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship Manila 2016 - Teams

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