The FIVB Women's Club World Championships get underway today! Streaming live from Zurich, Switzerland, and running until Sunday the 10th, the best clubs from the highest level of professional indoor volleyball have come together to crown a single champion.
Today, Thursday, and Friday will feature a short round robin that determines the semi-finals, and eliminates two squads.
GAME 1: Eczacibasi Istanbul vs. Hisamitsu Springs Kobe
11:30 a.m. EST/15:30 GMT
The first match of the tournament is between Turkey's Eczacibasi Istanbul and Hisamitsu Springs Kobe of Japan. Eczacibasi will come in as a heavy favourite to win. Turkish teams have won 2 of the last 4 years, and the middle blocker from those winning teams, Christiane Fuerst, now starts for Eczacibasi. On the other side, Hisamitsu Springs qualified for last year's Club Championships, but failed to win a game and finished last in their pool.
Eczacibasi Istanbul came out firing, taking the opening set by a large margin (25-12). However, in the second they let their guard down. It went to extra points, but the Japanese squad, Hisamitsu Springs, managed to take it 28-26. Everybody knows momentum is a dangerous thing, and Hisamitsu kept it going for a third set victory as well (25-20). Righting the ship can be a very difficult thing, and Eczacibasi stumbled their way through the early part of the fourth set, finally finding their groove and forcing a tiebreaking fifth. The match was packed with back and forth rallies throughout, setting a great tone for the tournament to come. But in the 5th, Hisamitsu broke out to a 7-1 lead early. And in a match to 15, that kind of lead is incredibly difficult to overcome. Hisamitsu Springs will take this huge win and try to keep the energy building. Eczacibasi Istanbul suddenly find themselves asking a lot of questions.
Hisamitsu Springs Kobe def. Eczacibasi Vitra Istanbul 3-2 (12-25, 28-26, 25-20, 19-25, 15-11)
GAME 2: Volero Zurich vs. Mirador
2:00 p.m. EST/18:00 GMT
Up next, host Volero Zurich take on the Dominican Republic's Mirador Santo Domingo. Neither squad have ever medaled at the World Championships, nor have they ever played each other in direct competition. In the last two years, Volero has managed to make the Bronze Medal Match both times, but lost both. Mirador will be looking to prove themselves, having only ever won two matches total at their two Championship appearances (2010, 2011).
The host of the tournament, Volero Zurich, came out slow despite having the support of the crowd. The first set was dictated by blocking on both sides, and the Dominican squad Mirador proved their dominance by the end of it. However, by the time the second set was in full swing, Volero found their groove. They found their attacks, and won the second by a decisive 25-17. Once they set into their pace, the hosts never relented. The second set seemed to fly by, ending by an even more decisive 25-15 for the hosts. As the match lagged on, Mirador began to allow the unforced errors (including the final point of the 3rd set being a missed serve) to mount up. The fourth set looked a lot like the third, leaving Volero Zurich the winners.
Volero Zurich def. Mirador Santo Domingo 3-1 (20-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-15)