Zurich, Switzerland, October 16, 2015 – Ten-time Swiss champions and national cup winners Volero Zurich will be starting their campaign in the 2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Women with a home match on October 29.
Volero say they have built their team for the coming season with the aim of taking a medal. Ultimately, they are aiming at winning the title and qualifying for the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship.
In Pool D, Volero will first play Russia’s Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg who will be travelling to Zurich with the man who was behind the establishment of the Swiss club some years ago, legendary Russian coach Nikolay Karpol.
In December, Volero host France’s RC Cannes. The Swiss champions have been working closely with the team from the French Riviera for many years and some of their players have contributed to the success story of RC Cannes as well. In the final home match at the end of January, Volero will be playing Serbia’s Vizura Beograd, who are also their training partners.
“Despite the friendly relations we have with these three clubs, this group phase will still be a serious challenge,” Volero President Stav Jacobi said. “We nevertheless see ourselves as the clear-cut favourites in this group.”
Volero’s target is clear: qualification for the Final Four tournament as the first step to claiming the title. On the way there, Jacobi sees around six top teams that could cross Volero’s path leading to the Final Four: Turkey’s Fenerbahce Grundig, Eczacibasi VitrA and VakifBank, Poland’s Chemik Police and Russia’s Dinamo Kazan and Dinamo Moscow.
“If we qualify for the Final Four, everything is possible,” Jacobi says. In the last couple of years Volero finished their march in the playoffs, losing to the eventual winners of the competition. “Now the time has definitely come for us to go over this hurdle,” Jacobi emphasises.
World elite meets up at Volero
On October 7, all the players who had been busy with their respective national teams finally met up with their teammates. Throughout the whole summer, a core team – players not participating in the activities of the national teams – underwent intensive training in Zurich.
Immediately after the continental championships in Europe and North America, Volero travelled to their training camp in Turkey for 10 days. Head coach Avital Selinger took advantage of the stay at the Gloria Sports Centre to play two training games against Russian champions Dinamo Kazan. Both ended in 3-1 wins for Volero.
Volero’s squad also includes new European champion Ekaterina Orlova (middle blocker) from Russia, and two bronze-medal winners from the women’s EuroVolley: Bojana Zivkovic (setter) and Silvija Popovic (libero). In addition to their success at the European Championship, the two Serbians have already booked their tickets to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They did so with a strong performance at the FIVB World Cup in Japan, where Serbia finished second behind gold-medal winners China.
The arrival of the reigning world champion and Olympic silver medal winner, Foluke Antinuke Akinradewo from USA was also awaited by the team with great anticipation: “She is one of the best middle blockers around at the moment,” Jacobi said. She travelled from Mexico to Zurich immediately after USA won the NORCECA Championship.
Following another injury to Ana Antonijevic, Volero had to change their plans again, bringing in Turkish international setter Nilay Ozdemir. The 29-year-old Turk knows how to win big tournaments, winning gold in last year’s CEV Volleyball Champions League Finals with Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul and at the FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship in Zurich. Ozdemir is the only player to own a complete set of FIVB Club World Championship medals (bronze, silver and gold).