The race is on for who will emerge as the eventual winners of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League following the Drawing of Lots held earlier this evening at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow. The group stage of Europe’s elite club competition features 20 men’s and 16 women’s teams – playing a double round robin in their respective pools to determine which sides progress to the Playoffs. The gold medal winners from the 2017 edition, Russia’s Zenit KAZAN and Turkey’s VakifBank ISTANBUL are vying for their sixth and fourth continental crown, respectively.
The Drawing of Lots carried out by U18 / U20 European Beach Volleyball champion Maria Voronina and four-time Olympic medallist Samuele Papi, who is also the President of the CEV Athletes’ Working Group, placed the 20 teams participating in the men’s competition across five pools as follows:
Pool A: Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA (ITA), Knack ROESELARE (BEL), Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA (ITA), Fenerbahce SK ISTANBUL (TUR)
Pool B: Halkbank ANKARA (TUR), PAOK THESSALONIKI (GRE), VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN (GER), Ford Store Levoranta SASTAMALA (FIN)
Pool C: CHAUMONT VB 52 Haute Marne (FRA), Dinamo MOSCOW (RUS), PGE Skra BELCHATOW (POL), Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK (RUS)
Pool D: Zenit KAZAN (RUS), BERLIN Recycling Volleys (GER), Spacer’s TOULOUSE VB (FRA), JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel (POL)
Pool E: Zaksa KEDZIERZYN-KOZLE (POL), TRENTINO Diatec (ITA), Arkas IZMIR (TUR), Noliko MAASEIK (BEL)
The top two from each pool plus the two third-placed teams with the best result will progress to the Playoffs 12. The group stage will get underway in early December with two legs set to take place before the break due to the holiday season.
Finland’s Ford Store Levoranta SASTAMALA and France’s Spacer’s TOULOUSE are making their first-ever appearance in the group stage of the CEV Volleyball Champions League after emerging victorious from their third-round fixtures with opponents from the Czech Republic and Serbia, respectively. The same applies to France’s reigning national champions CHAUMONT VB 52 Haute Marne, the silver medal winners from last year’s CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup.
As for the women’s competition, the 16 participating teams were drawn across four pools by Russia’s Volleyball superstars Ekaterina Gamova and Maxim Mikhailov as follows:
Pool A: Volero ZÜRICH (SUI), ASPTT MULHOUSE (FRA), CSM Volei Alba BLAJ (ROU), Developres SkyRes RZESZOW (POL)
Pool B: Fenerbahce SK ISTANBUL (TUR), Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA (ITA), Agel PROSTEJOV (CZE), Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO (ITA)
Pool C: Chemik POLICE (POL), Dinamo KAZAN (RUS), Vizura RUMA (SRB), Maritza PLOVDIV (BUL)
Pool D: Dinamo MOSCOW (RUS), Galatasaray SK ISTANBUL (TUR), Grot Budowlani LODZ (POL), VakifBank ISTANBUL (TUR)
Since there are no Playoffs 12, the top sides from each pool plus the two runners-up with the best result will progress to the Playoffs 6.
Poland’s Developres SkyRes RZESZOW and Bulgaria’s Maritza PLOVDIV are making their debut in the group stage of the CEV Volleyball Champions League after claiming their third-round fixtures with Slovenian and Russian opposition, respectively earlier this month.