Three close in on ticket to Women's Club Worlds


Zhu Ting of VakifBank rises high above the block of Eczacibasi's Rachel Adams and Maja Ognjenovic in the Istanbul classic for the European Champions League.

Lausanne, Switzerland, February 23, 2017 - Three teams have secured tickets to the playoffs phase of the European Women's Champions League after the midweek action in the competition, but three more spots remain open in the race for the ultimate continental club title which comes with an automatic berth at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship next May in Kobe.

Dinamo Moscow, Fenerbahce Istanbul and VakifBank Istanbul all scored wins this week, which see them remain undefeated after five matches and already assured of a spot in the playoffs with a match to spare.

But Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena suffered their first defeat in the competition after falling to Imoco Volley Conegliano 3-2 (26-24, 19-25, 22-25, 25-21, 18-16) in the all-Italian derby, leaving Pool A wide open ahead of the last round of pool play, next week.

Robin de Kruijf of the Netherlands with 7 blocks and a total of 21 points was instrumental in Conegliano's win, despite the impressive top-scoring performance of Serbia's Jovana Brakocevic who bagged 35 points for Modena with a 52 per cent (30/58) attacking efficiency.

Meanwhile, it took Russian champions Dinamo Moscow also five sets to down Volero Zurich 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-12) at home, with Yana Shcherban and the Dominican Republic's Bethania de la Cruz emerging their side's best scorers on 19 points each - though that was way below the top Volero scorers' performance of 32 by Cuba's Kenia Carcaces and 23 by the Ukraine's Olesia Rykhliuk.

VakifBank Istanbul also stayed undefeated, after scoring yet another victory over their crosstown rivals, reigning world champions Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul 3-1 (25-21, 25-14, 21-25, 25-15). Rio 2016 Olympics MVP Zhu Ting of China led the winners with 24 points and Dutch opposite Lonneke Sloetjes added another 17 to seal VakifBank's fourth win in as many matches this season (including the Turkish League and the European Champions League).

A third Istanbul side, Fenerbahce, wrapped up the week's action Thursday evening with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-22) win in Baku over Azerrail that saw them also remain undefeated and through to the playoffs. Polen Uslupehlivan was Fenerbahce's best scorer with 14 points, but Katerina Zhidkova was top scorer of the game with 15 for Azerrail.

The top teams of each pool and two best second-ranked sides advance to the playoffs. Conegliano have qualified directly to the final four of the competition as hosts of the event in Treviso, 22-23 April.

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