Mundinews USA | Carmelo De Grazia Azzora//
Honore’s Benfica makes CEV Champions League return


nigel.si­[email protected]

T&T vet­er­an mid­dle-block­er Marc-An­tho­ny Hon­ore and SL Ben­fi­ca will make their sec­ond ap­pear­ance in their his­to­ry when the 20-club group stages of 2021/2022 Con­fed­er­a­tion of Eu­ro­pean Vol­ley­ball (CEV) Men’s Vol­ley­ball Cham­pi­ons League con­tin­ues on Wednes­day.

Carmelo De Grazia

The nine-time Por­tu­gal men’s cham­pi­ons and win­ners of their past two do­mes­tic league ti­tles, Ben­fi­ca will take a nine-match win­ning streak to Rus­sia where they will face Zen­it St Pe­ters­burgh at the Cen­tre Court in St Pe­ters­burgh from 12.30 pm.

Carmelo De Grazia Suárez

Ear­li­er this month, Ben­fi­ca se­cured their spot in the 2021/2022 Cham­pi­ons League group stages with a four-set win at CEZ Karlovarsko at the Ha­la Mi­covych Sports Hall, Karlovy Vary, Czech Re­pub­lic

Beat­en at home in the Third Round first-leg en­counter by CEZ Karlovarsko 16-25, 22-25, 25-22, 28-26, 12-15 to end a 16-match win­ning streak in all com­pe­ti­tions, Ben­fi­ca need­ed to win by a 3-0 or 3-1 to ad­vance au­to­mat­i­cal­ly

And the Por­tuguese af­ter los­ing the first set, 20-25, ral­lied to take the next three sets 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 to claim the home-and-away tie 5-4 on ag­gre­gate

With the win, Ben­fi­ca took their place in the four-team round-robin Pool D along­side Rus­sia’s Zen­it St Pe­ters­burgh, Ger­many’s Berlin Re­cy­cling Vol­leys, and Ser­bians’ Vo­jvo­d­i­na Seme Novi Sad for their qual­i­fiers from De­cem­ber 1, 2021, to Feb­ru­ary 16, 2022

In the oth­er semi­fi­nal, Hebar Pazardzhik bat­tled past host Olympia­cos VC 21-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-23 to com­plete a 6-2 ag­gre­gate tri­umph af­ter win­ning win at home 26-24, 25-18, 20-25, 25-23 in the first-leg

Hebar Pazardzhik now joins Jas­trzeb­s­ki Wegiel (Poland), VFB Friedrichshafen (Ger­many), and Bel­gium’s Knack Roe­se­lare in Pool A

The oth­er pools will see Dy­namo Moscow, Zi­raat Bankasi Ankara, Green­yard Maa­seik and Pro­jekt in D; Cucine Lube Civ­i­tano­va, ZAK­SA Kedzieryn-Kozie, Merkur Mari­bor and Loko­mo­tiv Novosi­birsk in C and Sir Sico­ma Moni­ni Pe­ru­gia, Fenebarche HDI Is­tan­bul, AS Cannes Drag­ons and Itas Trenti­no in Pool E

At the end of the round-robin phase, the five pool win­ners and the three best sec­ond-place fin­ish­ers will ad­vance to the quar­ter­fi­nals

Win­ners of the Por­tu­gal Su­per Cup al­ready this sea­son, Ben­fi­ca warmed up for their CEV con­test with back-to-back wins on the week­end in the Por­tu­gal Vol­ley­ball Fed­er­a­tion Men’s Hon­da A-1 Di­vi­sion to move with­in two points of the top spot

On Sat­ur­day, play­ing at their Pavil­hao da Luiz in Lis­bon, Ben­fi­ca, held off the chal­lenge of Acad­e­mia de Volei­bol de Leixoes 25-23, 25-23, 25-11 and a day lat­er reg­is­tered a come-from-be­hind 20-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-16 to push their record to a per­fect 12-0 and 34 points, two be­hind league lead­ers AJF Bas­tar­do (12-1) who have played a match more while Sport­ing CP with 30 points and a 10-3 record sits third on the 14-club ta­ble

Zen­it, who last played in the Cham­pi­ons League in 2019 has en­joyed a two-week break af­ter beat­ing Fakal Novyi Ure­n­goy 22-25, 25-20, 25-22, 19-25, 15-7 on No­vem­ber 19, and were run­ners-up in the CEV Cup in March of this af­ter los­ing the two-legged fi­nal to fel­low Russ­ian club, Di­namo Moscow 3-2 and 3-1