The last round (Round 6) of the group stage of the 2023 CEV Men’s Volleyball Champions League determined the last five playoff participants. Five teams stamped their playoff tickets two weeks ago.
What was inevitable even before the last round of the CEV Champions League Volley 2023 | Men has just turned into reality. Halkbank Ankara sealed the top spot in Pool B following a straight-set win over Bulgaria’s Hebar Pazardzhik in the last round.
This pool was the most interesting to watch prior to the last round with three teams vying for the two playoff places. The Turkish powerhouse left nothing to a case, topped Pool B, and secured a direct spot in the quarterfinals, mostly thanks to Nimir Abdel-Aziz, as the Dutchman scored 16 points. Argentine Nicolás Bruno served five aces. A rookie to the Hebar roster, Italian Giulio Sabbi, scored a match-high 18 points.
The Berlin Recycling Volleys reached the playoffs as second in this group.
After an unchallenged, surprisingly easy victory at home against Poland’s Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie, the team from Germany’s capital will play for a place in the quarterfinals via the playoffs, pushing the PlusLiga side to third place. Nonetheless, Aluron were “saved” by Lube (more on that in a moment); 5,120 spectators in the Max-Schmeling-Halle witnessed a hard-fought first set, after which the hosts were far superior to the opponents, led by the Czech Marek Šotola (16 points; 77% reception; 13 digs; 1 error; 31% excellent). Dawid Konarski scored 10 for Aluron.
Turkey’s Ziraat Bank Ankara inflicted a painful defeat on Slovenia’s ACH Volley Ljubljana in Pool E. At home, the Efeler Ligi champions proved better than a direct rival for a place in the playoffs with a score of 3-2. Just like in the first head-to-head this season in the Slovenian capital, Ziraat were better in the tie-break and again after ACH Volley had 2-1 in sets. The Ankara side claimed second place in the group, behind Italy’s Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia, squeezing ACH Volley down to third place without a chance of earning a spot in the playoffs via the overall ranking of third-placed sides. The Slovenians will resume their European path in the CEV Cup.
Bulgarian Martin Atanasov topped Ziraat with 21 points. Bedirhan Bülbül set up seven blocks. North Macedonian Nikola Gjorgiev tallied 24 points on the losing side. Matej Kök served four aces, while Serb Nemanja Mašulović made four blocks.
Dominating against the Portuguese Sport Lisboa e Benfica 3-0, Tours VB have validated their ticket for the playoffs of the Champions League from second place in Pool C. Thanks to Brazilian Aboubacar Neto “Abouba” (19 points) and Ukrainian Dmytro Teryomenko (four blocks) – Brazilian Pablo Ventura scored 10 for Benfica – the French club did their part of the job.
But, that could’ve been in vain if Belgian giants Knack Roeselare managed to upset the direct quarterfinal qualifier from this group, Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova. And they were on their way to doing so given they had 2-1 in sets. However, the SuperLega titleholders didn’t want to leave anything to post-match gossip, and led by Cuban Marlon Yant (30 points), they turned the match around, eliminating Roeselare (for which Argentine Pablo Kukartsev scored 21 points and Pieter Coolman made six blocks) from further participation. To get worse for Roeselare, they are ranked second in the overall charts of third-placed teams (only first advances to the playoffs) just behind the “lucky loser” Aluron.
CEV Champions League Volley 2023 | Men – group stage, Round 6: