The historic CEV Champions League Volley 2019 Super Finals were held at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin on 18 May 2019 and were a true celebration of Volleyball – a party that involved the whole of the Volleyball family. The fans could see many familiar faces on the stands of the ‘Volleyball temple’ – including many star players, coaches, as well as officials.
The event delivered something truly unique and unprecedented in Volleyball history, in many ways. It was the first time men’s and women’s teams contested their matches at the same venue on the same day and could celebrate side by side at the end of the medal ceremony. This accounted for some truly special scenes, with the top male and female players in Europe standing together on the podium and sharing the same smiles and tears of joy.
The concept of the Super Finals was a truly revolutionary one, not only in Volleyball, but across all team sports as well. The very best teams in Europe convened in Berlin to turn the Max-Schmeling-Halle into ‘Europe’s Volleyball temple’ with the help of a sell-out crowd of 9,046 fans and a gigantic show including video mapping, the use of LED wristbands provided to all spectators and much more.
Undefeated in the 2018/19 Champions League campaign Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA climbed to the top of European Volleyball for the second time at the Super Finals in Berlin and ended the Russian supremacy, which had been lasting since 2012. Coming out victorious over former title holders Zenit KAZAN by 3-1 (16-25, 25-15, 25-12, 25-19) it is the first time an Italian team seize the crown since TRENTINO Volley won three times in a row (2009 to 2011).
MVP Juantorena (left) started his career in Cuba, then moved and switched allegiance to Italy. Osmany, whose uncle Alberto was a double gold medallist at the 1976 Olympics in athletics, celebrated in Berlin his third #CLVolleyM triumph, after seizing Europe’s most coveted crown in 2010 and 2011 with TRENTINO Volley. His leading role in Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA’s victory over Zenit KAZAN was clear for all to see.
“Is this a dream come true? Absolutely. Last year we lost, so this year it was extremely important to win against Zenit KAZAN. Zenit is one of the best teams in the world and dominated the last seasons of the Champions League, so to win against them feels extremely good. The atmosphere was great, really amazing!”
For the first time in their club’s history Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA could name themselves ‘queens of Europe’! The Italian vice-champions took revenge for the lost national championship against Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO twelve days before and won 3-1 (25-18, 25-17, 14-25, 25-22). The third all-Italian Champions League final on the women’s side was an outstanding one earning the name ‘Super Final” in every kind of way and having an Italian champion for the ninth time.
MVP Paola Egonu skyrocketed to the global Volleyball elite at the age of 20. After winning silver at the World Championship in Japan where she scored as many as 324 points, Egonu helped Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA claim their first European trophy – starting right with the most prestigious one. The opposite hitter of Nigerian descent was just unstoppable in the four sets she contested in Berlin against the team she moved to the following season – Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO.
“What an emotion and an experience it was to play a final in such an ambiance. I feel extremely emotional. I wanted this title so bad and despite knowing it was going to be difficult, I believed in our chances. I have to congratulate all of my teammates because they all worked extremely hard and they played really well. This is especially true for Egonu, who is half my age, but despite being so young, she truly is a phenomenon.”
Italian Volleyball legend Andrea Giani attended the ‘ultimate Volleyball show’ together with almost the full roster of Germany’s national team – travelling a short distance from their training base in Kienbaum to Berlin to witness the Champions League Super Finals. Other (former) stars in attendance included Giba, Andrea Gardini, Ivan Miljkovic, Irina Kirillova, Antonina Zetova, Maja Ognjenovic, György Grozer, Joop Alberda, Bernardo Rezende and Laurent Tillie – to name only a few – to account for an almost endless list of illustrious guests.
Italy’s former Volleyball stars Andrea Zorzi, Samuele Papi, Eleonora Lo Bianco and Maurizia Cacciatori travelled to Berlin to provide live commentary of the Super Finals for rights-holders DAZN.
Moreover, a well more than a dozen Presidents of National Federations accepted the CEV’s invitation to witness a truly unprecedented event in European Volleyball history, taking the emotions and impressions back to their respective countries and a further boost to continue their work to grow the game in close cooperation with the CEV.
The Super Finals raised the value and status of Volleyball to the next level – bring on the 2021 event in Verona.
Unfortunately the 2020 season was unable to be finished due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The CEV Champions League Volley follows in the footsteps of the former CEV Champions Cup, with the first edition held in the 2000/2001 season, following a full revamping of the European Cup competitions. Ever since its introduction, it has featured all of the top teams in Europe and quickly established itself as the most prestigious club competition in international Volleyball – thus attracting elite players from overseas as well, wishing to play at the highest possible level.