Shaoxing, China, Dec 3: The FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship started here Tuesday morning, featuring the world's best volleyballers from eight participating teams.
Turkey, Italy, Brazil and hosts China are sending two teams each to the annual tournament, including last year's podium finishers Vakifbank Istanbul of Turkey, Itambe Minas of Brazil and Eczacibasi Vitra Istanbul of Turkey. Making their return to the championship are last year's debutante Dentil Praia Clube of Brazil, 2013 bronze medallist Guangdong Evergrande Volleyball Club of China and 2012 fifth-placer Tianjin Bohai Bank Volleyball Club of China.
Italian teams Igor Gorgonzola Novara and Imoco Volley Conegliano are making their debut this year.
As usual, the tournament features a constellation of star players, including Zhu Ting, captain of Tianjin who played for Vakifbank for the last three seasons, Serbian Tijana Boskovic of Eczacibasi, Italian Paola Ogechi Egonu of Conegliano as well as Brazilian Gabriela Braga Guimaraes of Vakifbank. As the home favorites to win the championship, Tianjin club coach Chen Youquan said that "this is a great opportunity for our team to play in the championship and learn from the best in the world. We will spare no effort, try to be brave, and give our 100 percent in this tournament and to our supporters."
"I am honored to be able to participate in these matches at the Women's Club World Championship," said Tianjin captain Zhu Ting. "I will do my best to help my team achieve the best possible result in this tournament."
As reigning champions, Vakifbank coach Giovanni Guidetti said, "We are happy to be here again. We are rebuilding the team so we will do our best to play. We want to use the matches here to improve ourselves." Vakifbank captain Ayse Melis Gurkaynak said that "we have amazing memories here in Shaoxing. We had a strong team last year and now we are rebuilding. It would not be easy this year because of the strong teams. However, we want to put our best on the court and we wish all teams the best of luck."
Itambe Minas coach Nicola Negro said that "it's a great pleasure to play among the best clubs in the world. We are honoured to represent Brazilian volleyball." Eczacibasi coach Marco Aurelio Motta said that "this is by far the best competition in years. The teams are the best in the world. We are glad to be here to represent the country and the club. We will be facing strong opponents here and it will be tough for all the teams."
Dentil Praia coach Paulo Barros said that "we dream high and we dream big. Our challenge in this competition is to perform our best and to rebuild the team." Guangdong coach Yan Fang noted that "we know there is a huge gap on the level between my team and the other clubs. We will grab this opportunity to learn from our counterparts." On their debut, the two Italian squads are hoping to carry on their strong rivalry from their national league to the Club World Championship.
Novara captain Cristina Chirichella said that "it's our first time to compete here and play against the strongest teams in the world. We will try to show the best volleyball we can." Conegliano captain Joanna Wolosz said that "this is something big for us as we represent the club in an international competition. We will do our best and fight in every match." (UNI-XINHUA)