Do-or-die clashes to deliver dramatic matches in #CLVolleyW quarter-finals


Article Mon, Feb 26 2024
Author: Adrian Costeiu

With none of the four matches in the first leg of the CEV Champions League 2024 Women quarter-finals finishing in straight sets, it is just normal and crystal clear that the second legs will bring plenty of excitement, drama and twists and turns on the way to the semi-finals of the European premium competition. 

With three Turkish and three Italian teams dominating the way, surprises may arise, especially as the reigning champions, VakifBank Istanbul, which won the last two editions of the CEV Champions League Women, have a mountain to climb after their 1:3 loss against A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano last week.

VakifBank took the first set and looked in control, only to falter and concede the next three sets, as Conegliano took them in emphatic fashion. Not only it was VakifBank’s fifth home loss in the past two seasons, it was also a loss which means that they need to win by at least two sets and survive the golden set to clinch a place in the semi-finals.

But the reigning champions, which have a ton of experience in their roster, have been there already and work way better under pressure, as proven by last season’s semi-final against Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul, when they erased a 0:3 home loss to take the golden set in the second leg, 15:12, and ride their way to the title.

However, Conegliano have not lost on their home court in the European premium competition for 19 matches, with their last loss coming in March 2019, against Eczacıbaşı Dynavit Istanbul, as VakifBank have now a mountain to climb, provided they want to extend their winning streak in the competition and complete a historic three-peat.

Conegliano will also be buoyed by their 3:0 win on Sunday against Volley Bergamo, in the Italian Cup final, with the win bringing the sixth Coppa Italia title in their history.

The biggest surprise of the first leg was Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul’s loss against Allianz MTV Stuttgart, 2:3, the first loss for the Turkish team, which dominated in Round 4, by sealing six consecutive 3:0 wins. Therefore, with no immaculate team this season, surprises may arise, but Fenerbahçe are keen to turn the match on its head.

This would be the third consecutive season where Fenerbahçe reach the semi-finals, after being eliminated each time by rivals VakifBank in the previous season, while Stuttgart have never progressed from this phase of the competition in the previous three challenges.

Nevertheless, this is the second consecutive season when the two teams face off, with Stuttgart also taking a 3:2 win on their home court, only to lose 3:1 in the away match in the 4th Round, results which would see Fenerbahçe through to the semi-finals for the ninth time in history.

Another 3:2 result, which sets up a do-or-die match for both sides, was registered between Eczacıbaşı Dynavit Istanbul and Savino Del Bene Scandicci, in an instant classic, which saw the two sides lock horns for the third time this season.

The first two matches went Scandicci’s way, 3:1, but Eczacıbaşı were always there, trying to bridge the gap and applying pressure, losing five sets by an average of 2.5 points. This time around, though, the Turkish side secured a 3:2 win by holding their ground and taking the fifth set, 15:10.

Once again, the Turkish side benefitted from an astonishing performance from captain Tijana Boskovic, who had 31 points, yet Eczacıbaşı will need even more in the away leg, with Scandicci qualifying via a 3:1 win, which they had already achieved this season. It would be the first time in history when the Italian side makes the semi-finals, having been already eliminated in this phase of the competition twice.

In what could be the most lopsided quarter-final, Allianz Vero Volley Milano are primed to secure a semi-finals berth for the first time in history, after stopping in this phase of the competition in their previous two appearances in the CEV Champions League Women.

Milano took a clear 3:1 win over ŁKS Commercecon Łódź and is currently the best-placed team to secure a semi-finals berth, with a well-rounded performance, which saw the Polish side fail to bring any answers to the table except the second set.