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Questions awaiting answers as Zurich kicks off the season

 
Zurich, Switzerland, May 5, 2015 – Anticipation is running high as the attention of world volleyball focuses on the leafy Zurich district of Wiedikon, nestled between verdant Mount Uetliberg and the magnificent Lake Zurich. But attention this week will not be on the surrounding natural wonders of Switzerland. It will be inside the Saalsporthalle, where the world’s best clubs will be battling it out for the mother of all club trophies: The FIVB Club World Championship.

The 2015 edition of the event marks the start of the season for the FIVB and some nagging questions are waiting for answers:

- Can Dinamo Krasnodar keep the title in Russia?
Last year’s winners Dinamo Kazan are not here to defend their title (having been eliminated by Turkey’s VakifBank Istanbul in the Play-Offs round of the European Champions League), but the team from Kuban has received a wild card and will look at keeping the Russian flag flying on the tallest mast.

- Can Istanbul tie with Sao Paulo as the most prolific city?
Greater Sao Paulo has seen three of its teams bring the trophy to South America: Sadia Sao Paulo won the inaugural event in 1991; Leite Moca Sorocaba followed suit in 1994; and Sollys Nestle Osasco completed the hat-trick in 2012. Greater Istanbul has had two of its teams bring the cup to the shores of the Bosphorus: Fenerbahce in 2010 and VakifBank in 2013. Can Eczacibasi become the third Istanbul team to strike gold and match Sao Paulo’s claim to volleyball fame?

- Will it be third-time lucky for hosts Volero Zurich?
The Swiss team has a history of narrow misses (the latest a golden-set loss to Eczacibasi Istanbul for a place in the European Champions League finals), including two previous attempts at a spot on he podium of the FIVB Club World Championships. In 2013 Volero lost their Bronze Medal match to China’s Guangdong Evergrande in four sets and in 2014 the home team fell to Brazil’s SESI Sao Paulo in five.

- Or will it be third-time lucky for Mirador Santo Domingo?
The Dominican side are in exactly the same position as Volero. They’ve been to the bronze medal match twice in as many appearances and they’ve lost both times: In 2010 to Italy’s Foppapedretti Bergamo in four sets and the very next year to Brazil’s Sollys Nestle Osasco in straight sets. Although the Caribbean team was absent from the competition since then, they’re now making their third attempt at a medal. Another NORCECA team, Lancheras de Catano of Puerto Rico, also finished fourth in their sole appearance, losing the 2012 bronze medal match to Turkey’s Fenerbahce Istanbul 3-0.

- Can Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs claim Asia’s second ever medal?
It took 22 years since the inaugural event until an Asian team won a medal at an FIVB Women’s Club World Championship. That happened in 2013 in Zurich, when China’s Guangdong Evrgrande beat hosts Volero 3-1 in the bronze medal match. This year it’s Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs of Kobe, the reigning Asian Champions and 5th in last year’s World Championship, who will be seeking to return Asia to the podium.

- Can Christiane Fuerst win a record third gold?
The German middle blocker has been club hopping around Istanbul since 2010, and has been picking up Club World Championship gold medals everywhere she’s been: with Fenerbahce in 2010 in Doha and with VakifBank in 2013 in Zurich. Now she’s playing for Eczacibasi and she’s back for a shot at an unprecedented third gold. The only other players to have ever won two gold medals in the competition are Brazil’s Ida [Ana Margarida Alvares], Fernanda Venturini and Ana Moser, all with Sadia Sao Paulo in 1991 and with Leite Moca Sorocaba in 1994; and, more recently, Croatia’s Natasa Osmokrovic, in 2010 with Fenerbahce and in 2011 with Azerbaijan’s Rabita Baku.

- Will Keba Phipps’ record of 99 points fall, after 21 years?
The American outside hitter scored 99 points + sideouts (or 24.75 per match) at the 1994 edition of the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship in Osasco, Brazil, playing for Italy’s silver medal-winning Parmalat Matera. The record still stands today. Since the introduction of the running score system, Russia’s Ekaterina Gamova, playing for Dinamo Kazan, holds the record with 85 points in 2014.

- Will Sunday’s final break the straight-set pattern?
All eight previous finals, ever since 1991, have ended in three sets.

Stay tuned on this website and turn to our social media feeds throughout the week, as answers will begin to form to all the questions above. And come Sunday evening, we’ll be treating you right here to a nice little roundup with answers to all these queries.

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