Back in 2015 I spent a weekend in Berlin attending the Final 4 for the men’s CEV Champions League. The event was hosted by Berlin Recycling Volleys, which was coached by my friend Mark Lebedew. He is author of the At Home on the Court blog. The other three teams involved were Zenit Kazan from Russia, PGE Skra Belchatow, and Asseco Resovia Rzeszow – the latter two from Poland. Berlin put up a good fight, but lost 3-1 to the Russian side in the first semifinal. Rzeszow then won the second semi 3-0. Berlin won a tight 3-2 battle of the losing teams to win the bronze medal. Kazan retained their championship by a 3-0 score line.

The atmosphere in the place was fantastic – helped by the home team’s performance, of course. Max Schmelling Halle was at capacity, setting an attendance record. Here’s a clip I posted on showing the end of the set Berlin won against Kazan.

Berlin’s bronze was their best ever Champions League finish. It was great to see a friend have that kind of success. [Note: In 2017 Berlin reached the Final 4 for the first time without being host. They only took 4th, though.]

During that weekend I got to spend a fair amount of time talking about coaching with Alexis Lebedew. He’s Mark’s brother, who authors the Coaches Corner blog and worked with Mark and their father to publish the Platonov coaching book. He and I literally spent just about 4 hours talking in the gym on that Friday afternoon while Kazan and Berlin were doing their final training sessions.

I also got to spend time with Ruben Wolochin from TV Bühl, along with his assistant Santiago. That is one of the German professional teams I visited back in August 2014. We talked about how things went with the team this season and what the future might bring for them. Of course we also talked about the play going on as I sat with him during the non-Berlin matches.

There were a few hiccups along the way, but all in all it a very good experience. I would highly recommend attending that sort of event to any volleyball coach. If nothing else, as I’ve said before, analyzing the play of top competitors will show you that just because they are bigger, faster, stronger, etc. it doesn’t mean they don’t make the same mistakes our players make.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    4 replies to "Report from the CEV Champions League Final 4"

    • Volker

      Zenit Kazan were not the defending champs. Last year’s Champions League was won by Belogorie Belgorod (also from Russia) with Musersky and Grozer.

      • John Forman

        Corrected. Thanks for the catch.

        • Volker

          Just a minor detail. You have a nice blog here that is always interesting to read. FYI I didn’t notice that you had pinned that job search post to the top of the page and never scrolled down until today, so I thought you hadn’t done any new posts in some weeks. ….

          • John Forman

            Yeah, I’ve been thinking about unpinning that one. As a kind of compromise, I’ve set it up only to show the first part with a link to see the rest. Still shows at the top, but now the more recent post should be more visible.

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