The record holders in FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship titles, Trentino Itas Trento of Italy will try to add one more important trophy to their impressive portfolio on Saturday as they take on Polish standouts Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle in the men’s CEV Champions League Volley final to start at 20:30 local time in Verona.
The five-time club world champions are aiming at their fourth continental title, after winning Champions League gold back in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Only one other club, six-time continental champs Zenit Kazan of Russia, have won more Champions League titles than Trentino since the format was introduced at the turn of the century.
To reach the Super Final on May 1, Trentino went through an untypically long campaign of 14 matches. Having to go through the two rounds that led up to the pool stage of the competition, they piled up 13 wins, which is a new record for most wins by a team in a single edition of the men’s Champions League. The only game they lost was the second leg of their semifinal series against compatriots Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia and they did so only after securing their spot in the gold medal match.
Undoubtedly, Dutch opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz was the big hero of Trentino’s journey to the Super Final. He hammered out a total of 188 points so far this season, 35 clear of the next most prolific scorer in the competition, Grupa Azoty’s Kamil Semeniuk, and seems quite likely to stay on top of that chart through to the end. He also leads the spikers’ ranking on a total of 133 kills. Attributing Nimir’s achievement solely to the fact that he played in more matches than other teams’ players would be a bit unfair to him since one should consider the fact that, due to coronavirus-related circumstances, he was forced to play as a setter in two of the pool stage matches, and one match was awarded by forfeit.
The Dutch star was most impressive from the serving line. He mastered a fantastic count of 36 aces, double that of the next best achievement in that individual ranking. Nimir also leads the servers in terms of average aces per set (0.84). His amazing run of 11 consecutive serves, starting off with three aces in a row, towards an emphatic 15-2 tie-breaker victory over Russia’s Lokomotiv Novosibirsk will remain in the history of the sport.
Following recent news that the men’s national team of the Netherlands will compete in the upcoming FIVB Volleyball Nations League, fans may get an opportunity to see Abdel-Aziz showing his magic during the games in Rimini.
Of course, there is a lot more to Trentino than Nimir alone. Formidable Serbian national team middles Srecko Lisinac and Marko Podrascanin are the best blockers of the season, leading the chart on 27 and 23 stuffs, respectively.
Trentino’s coach Angelo Lorenzetti can also rely on the services of Brazilian star outside hitter Ricardo Lucarelli and one of the world’s most talented setters, Italy’s Simone Giannelli, both of whom can make headlines not only in Saturday’s Champions League Super Final, but also at the VNL and the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Main photo: Nimir Abdel-Aziz celebrates a point in a Champions League match (source: cev.eu)
Watch all Champions League games live on EuroVolley TV. For more, visit the official Super Finals website.
Previous article about the Champions League:
VakifBank have all it takes to win fifth continental gold