A new champion to be crowned, as Italo-Turkish battles highlight semi-finals in the #CLVolleyW


Article Thu, Feb 29 2024
Author: Adrian Costeiu

After two consecutive seasons with the title going to VakifBank Istanbul, the CEV Champions League Women will see a new winner, with the new champion coming either from Italy or from Türkiye, as two teams from the two countries are still in the hunt in the last stage before the Super Finals.

Two of the teams which also made the semi-finals last season, Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul and Eczacıbaşı Dynavit Istanbul, are still alive after a difficult season, after sealing hugely important wins in the second leg of the quarter-finals against Allianz MTV Stuttgart and Savino Del Bene Scandicci.

Eczacıbaşı Dynavit Istanbul, which are looking for their first trophy in the top European competition after nine seasons, lost the first two matches against Scandicci this season in Round 4, but bounced back with a huge 3:2 win in the first leg of the quarter-finals in Istanbul.

Everything revolved around the second leg against the Italian debutants, which were looking for their first semi-finals berth in history, and Scandicci went close to produce a big shock, after sealing the second and the third sets, 25:20 and 25:18, after conceding the first one, 25:27.

But then, Tijana Bošković took over, as the Eczacıbaşı Dynavit’s superstar produced another excellent match, with 29 points, to help her side take the next two sets, 25:22 and 15:12, progressing to the semi-finals with two narrow 3:2 wins, which proved once again that this doubleheader was the most balanced in the competition this season.

Reigning champions VakifBank Istanbul proved they had an off season in their pool, where they lost against Allianz Vero Volley Milano, and were on a collision path with another powerhouse, A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano, the only unbeaten team in the competition.

After a 3:1 win for Conegliano in the first leg, it looked like VakifBank were going to produce another shock, exactly like in the previous season, when they turned the fate of the doubleheader against Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul on its head in the semi-finals, by winning the away match.

However, after winning the first set, 25:20, VakifBank had no power left and Conegliano bounced back in superb fashion, extending their superb run of wins on their home court in the CEV Champions League Women, by taking the next three sets totally outplaying their opponents, 25:18, 25:19 and 25:16.

The two sides will meet in a do-or-die doubleheader in March in the semi-finals, as Conegliano challenged for the trophy in 2019, 2021 and 2022, while Eczacıbaşı Dynavit Istanbul lost the last act in the previous edition of the European premium competition.

Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul were the only side which did not drop a set in the 4th Round, but were on the edge after conceding a 2:3 loss in the first leg of the quarter-finals against Allianz MTV Stuttgart.

Apart from a small blip on the radar in the third set, which they conceded, 23:25, Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul were on point, led by the MVP of the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Women, Melissa Vargas, who returned with a bang for the Turkish side, scoring 24 points in the clear 3:1 win (25:15, 25:15, 23:25, 25:19).

This is the third consecutive season when Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul make the semi-finals in the European premium competition, with the Turkish powerhouse aiming for the Super Finals, after being eliminated in this phase of the competition in 2016, 2019, 2022 and 2023.

Fenerbahçe will face Allianz Vero Volley Milano in the semi-finals, with the Italian side reaching this phase of the competition for the first time in their history, after two consecutive eliminations in the quarter-finals.

The Italian side was the only team to drop a single set in the doubleheader played in the quarter-finals, taking a clear 3:0 win against ŁKS Commercecon Łódź in the second leg, after a 3:1 win in Poland. 

Raphaela Folie (13 points), Paola Egonu and Kara Bajema (10 points each) led the proceeding for Milano, which will aim now to qualify for the final and stop Fenerbahçe once again in the semi-finals, as Allianz Vero Volley Milano could seal their third European title, after the CEV Challenge Cup 2019 Women and the CEV Volleyball Cup 2021 Women.