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28/10/2013 07:30
Injury-plagued Zenit KAZAN takes on Russian arch-rivals for another clash of the titans
2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men

Kazan, Russia, October 28, 2013. Europe’s Volleyball family can’t wait for the “clash of the titans” coming up on Wednesday in Kazan where the hosts of Zenit – winners of Europe’s elite club competition in 2008 and 2012 – will be crossing the ways of their countrymen and titleholders Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK. The team of Vladimir Alekno, which wrecked the start of the season, will try to make amends to their fans, as well as take vengeance on the Siberian team for the humiliating 2-3 defeat they suffered in the semi-final game of the 2013 edition played last March in Omsk.
There are only three teams that have managed to win the CEV Volleyball Champions League at one dash: Lube Banca Marche MACERATA, Zenit KAZAN and Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK. All of them are now playing in one pool – “the group of death”. And there is another flash fact: only twice in the tournament history, the CEV Volleyball Champions League was won by a team that hadn’t claimed its respective national championship before – Lube Banca Marche MACERATA (2002) and Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK (2013).  

The mentees of the national team head coach – Andrey Voronkov – ended up only in fifth place in the last season’s Russian Superleague, but were fortunate enough to get a wild card for the 2014 edition of the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. That’s exactly why the two strongest Russian clubs are now competing in one and the same Pool.  
In early October Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK represented Europe at the FIVB Club World Championship, but the Siberian team failed to strike gold in Brazil. Zenit KAZAN participated in that same Championship three times, and twice settled for bronze. Another Russian team, Dinamo MOSCOW, had to be content with fifth place in the 2010 edition.  

Last weekend Zenit KAZAN and Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK started the national league on a high note but as for the other tournaments, KAZAN has been suffering a streak of bad luck. The club from Tatarstan was unable to break into the Final Six of the Russian Cup, lost in the match for the Super Cup of Russia against Belogorie BELGOROD (2:3) and was defeated by Lube Banca Marche MACERATA (0:3) in the opening game of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League.  
“All the players took our defeat in the match against Lube Banca Marche MACERATA in Italy as a total disaster. My career in Russia began with two losses, but I’m not falling into despair and I understand that we need time to make a good ensemble, need to get to know each other better. I am sure that in the match against Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK we can cheer our fans up playing better, more efficient Volleyball” says the Serbian setter of Zenit KAZAN Nikola Grbic (pictured), who has urgently replaced the seriously injured Lukasz Zygadlo thereby leaving his former club from Italy, Bre Banca Lannutti CUNEO.  

The players of Zenit KAZAN are desperately out of luck this season. Captain Alexander Volkov and the best libero of the 2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship Alexey Verbov are now suffering from previously picked up injuries that aggravated after the first matches of this still young season. Their participation in the match against Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK is still to be confirmed.

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