Four heavyweight clashes to provide drama in the #CLVolleyW quarter-finals


Article Mon, Feb 19 2024
Author: Adrian Costeiu

The business end of the CEV Champions League 2024 Women is upon us and only eight teams are still in the hunt for the coveted trophy. The true powerhouses of the competition are there and will provide a dramatic and entertaining finish to the European premium competition, as the quarter-finals look mouth-watering, with heavyweights already clashing to stay alive for the Super Finals.

Three of the titles in the last seven editions of the CEV Champions League Women have been decided after matches between VakifBank Istanbul and A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano, but this time around, the two powerhouses, which won the title in five of the past seven seasons, are facing off in the quarter-finals.

The Turkish side, which won six titles in total and back-to-back titles in 2022 and 2023, are aiming to become the first-ever side to three-peat in the CEV Champions League Women, an astonishing feature, which is a testament of their consistency.

However, their challenge will be immense, as Conegliano have conceded a single loss in their last 13 matches, a 0:3 loss in the same phase of the competition, the quarter-finals, against another Turkish opponent, Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul. Therefore, Conegliano are one of the two sides to have not dropped a match this season, while VakifBank have six wins and a loss, with the latter coming against another Italian opponent, Allianz Vero Volley Milano, in the 4th round.

Conegliano will be buoyed by the 3:2 win against Allianz Vero Volley Milano in the Italian Cup final last weekend, and will be hoping to extend their chances for another European title, their first since the 2020/21 season, when they took a 3:2 win in the SuperFinals against Vakifbank.

The two sides will meet for the fifth time in the European premium competition, with the Turkish side taking three wins and Conegliano just one so far, with the latest match between the two sides secured by the Italian side in the FIVB World Club Championship in 2022.

Another fantastic Italo-Turkish doubleheader will be the one between Eczacıbaşı Dynavit Istanbul, the runners-up from the previous season, and Savino Del Bene Scandicci, two sides which have already met this season in the 4th round. That time around, Scandicci won both matches, 3:1 on their home court and 3:1 in Istanbul, with some stunning performances, which propelled the Italian side in rarefied company.

It was on the back of rising star Ekaterina Antropova’s performances – 57 points over the doubleheader – that Scandicci built that excellent performance and now it will be on the Turkish powerhouse to deliver a better performance, if they are to repeat their performance from last season, when they went to the Super Finals.

Eczacıbaşı won 46 of their last 59 matches in the CEV Champions League Women, but six of those 13 losses came against Italian opposition, therefore they must pay attention against a side which lost only two sets so far, both against Eczacıbaşı.

Moreover, Scandicci have never reached the semi-finals of the European premium competition so far, as the pressure is upon them, but they have a formidable player in Antropova, the joint top scorer of the Round 4, with 135 points.

Allianz Vero Volley Milano will be heavily favoured against ŁKS Commercecon Łódź, the only Polish side still alive in this season. Milano, which dropped a single match so far, against VakifBank, look to be a force to be reckoned with this season, especially after signing Paola Egonu, who had 118 points in Round 4.

The two sides have never met so far in the CEV Champions League Women, with ŁKS Commercecon Łódź securing their quarter-finals spot after clinching Pool E, the only team with two losses to finish on the top of their pool, after a nail-biting 3:2 win against Volero Le Cannet in the final round.

On the other hand, Łódź have lost all six matches against Italian opposition so far in the European premium competition, including five of them in straight sets.

Last, but not least, Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul will be big favourites against Allianz MTV Stuttgart, as the Turkish side aim for a semi-finals berth, after sweeping their opponents in the pool without dropping a set, the only team to do so in this season of the CEV Champions League Women.

Stuttgart will try to draw some morale after winning one match against the Turkish giants, 3:2 last season in Round 4, but they are yet to win a match in the quarter-finals from six tries, when they secured a spot in this phase of the competition in the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2022/23 seasons.

The German side have won the last four matches on the trot, including the play-offs doubleheader against Potsdam, but Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul are aiming for their eighth semi-finals berth, after being eliminated by VakifBank twice in the last two seasons in that phase of the competition.

With three Italian and three Turkish teams still alive in the competition, the quarter-finals look set to provide high-profile entertaining clashes, especially as last season’s Super Finals can see a rematch in the semi-finals.