Zurich, Switzerland, May 5, 2015 – It’s been raining, damp and miserable in Switzerland for the past few days, but nothing’s dampening the volleyball spirit inside the Saalsporthalle in Zurich’s Wiedikon district, where the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship begins tomorrow afternoon.
Everyone agrees this is going to be a tough competition and spectators will be treated to some incredible action. “The level this year is very happy,” said head coach of Rexona-AdeS Rio de Janeiro, Bernardinho. “All the teams here are very strong and tall,” added Kumi Nakada, head coach of Hisamitsu Springs of Kobe.
And the chairman of the Organising Committee, Stav Jacobi, summed it up pretty accurately at the pre-competition press conference: “We are very happy that this year’s edition has been described as the strongest in the history of the competition.”
First up tomorrow are the freshly crowned European champions of Eczacibasi Istanbul, who meet Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs at 17:30 local time (15:30 GMT), at the cosy venue right by the banks of the river Sihl, for Pool B.
The Turkish side are making their first ever appearance in the competition, but are burdened by the legacy of their gold-winning Istanbul predecessors: Fenerbahce, who won the trophy in 2010 at Doha; and VakifBank, who struck gold right here in the same hall in 2013.
Hisamitsu Springs, on the other hand, are making their return to the Saalsporthalle, following their appearance here last year. The reigning Asian club champions failed to make it past pool play on that occasion, so they’re raring to give it another go.
Attention will not be just on which teams wins, though. All eyes will be focused on Eczacibasi’s middle blocker, Christiane Fuerst of Germany, who embarks on a quest for a record third gold medal. The winner of the Fair Play Award at the recent CEV Denizbank European Champions League final had been on the roster of the other two Istanbul sides that held the cup aloft in 2010 and 2013—and she’s now back for more.
Russia's Dinamo Krasnodar, winners of this year's CEV Cup complete Pool B.
An even bigger match comes up at 20:00 local (18:00 GMT), when hosts Volero Zurich take on Mirador of Santo Domingo. Both teams have been twice before to the semis. And both teams have failed to medal each time.
Volero lost the bronze medal matches in 2013 to Evergrande of Guangdong and in 2014 to SESI of Sao Paulo. Mirador lost the third-place playoff in 2010 to Foppapedretti of Bergamo and in 2011 to Sollys Nestle of Osasco.
With reigning Brazilian and South American champions Rexona-AdeS rounding up the pool, losing tomorrow is not an option for either Volero or Mirador.
Entrance is free during pool play. Tickets for the weekend’s semifinals and finals are available here