The Lube Civitanova has no doubt been the best volleybal team in the world in 2019. If its reign in Italy and Europe were not proof enough, then we could add the crown at the World Club Championship in Betim, Brazil, where it proved to be one step above the rest.
Last Sunday, the Italian team was left completely broke 1-3 (25-23, 19-25, 31-29, 25-21) in the final to the Sada Cruzeiro, hosts of the world tournament. In little more than two and a half hours, the Lube completely mocked the court factor and silenced 6,000 fans who supported the Brazilian squad in the Ginasio Poliesportivo Divino Braga.
Once again the Cuban trio was decisive in the outcome of the match, with Osmany Juantorena and Yoandy Leal playing leading roles and scoring 20 cards per capita and winning their fifth and fourth titles in World Club Championships, respectively.
The Cuban assistants again used their powerful attack and their varied arsenal on the court, because Juantorena exceeded 55% of effectiveness in spikes, but also added three blocks. Meanwhile, Leal was a scourge from the service line with four aces and in the marathon third set was decisive with 11 units.
Robertlandy Simón was not far behind, who got nine points (two of them in the service) and fulfilled his usual role as an inspiring sparkplug, both for his impact on the game and for his leadership skills.
With the victory, the Lube broke the curse the squad had been dragging after two lost finals in 2017 (vs. Zenit Kazan) and 2018 (vs. Trentino), and incidentally maintained Italy’s dominance, which added its tenth crown in these championships and second consecutive.
“It’s incredible. It has been a perfect season for us and we achieved a title that we did not have. Sada Cruzeiro is a great team and they have given us a very tough game, but all our players helped in the victory and that makes it much more special,” said coach Ferdinando de Giorgi, head of Civitanova since 2018.
“Winning the World Club Championship was not an obsession, although it is a title that the club did not have and there’s a special taste to it. Unfortunately, we lost the last two finals, so now we really made an effort to win,” said Juantorena, the first man to reach five crowns at these events.
The Santiago de Cuba player, representative of Italy at the international level for years, was in the four consecutive crowns of the Trentino in the last decade (with three MVPs to his name) and now completes the hand with the Civitanova, which is why he is one of the few that has won the World Championship with two different teams.
Coincidentally, Leal and Simón accompany Juantorena in that exclusive group, since they both reached the top of the world when they were members of the Sada Cruzeiro, the team they now beat.
“They’ve been a great team for years. Today they played a colossal game, really good. They put a lot of pressure on us, but I think in the end our individual quality made the difference. We deserve the victory,” said Leal, who scored the point of the championship for the Lube and won the MVP prize, although with some controversy.
The organizers decided to award star passer Bruno Rezende, but the Brazilian himself requested that the verdict be reviewed and to consider Leal, who was decisive for the Civitanova throughout the event.
In the end, Bruninho’s demand took effect and Leal won the second MVP of his World Club Championship career, after winning that award in 2015, when he wore the Sada Cruzeiro shirt.