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Volleyball stars here for world club meet

Rio Olympics Most Valuable Player Zhu Ting and other giants of world volleyball safely landed late Friday, bracing for an all-out war in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship that unwraps this Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

After powering China to a golden finish in the Summer Games last August, Zhu will banner a rock-solid VakifBank Istanbul squad, which is making a return after a three-year absence in this world-class battle organized by the Philippine Superliga and Eventcourt with TV5, Petron, Asics, BMW and F2 Logistics as sponsors, Diamond Hotel as official residence and Turkish Airlines as official airlines.

Aside from VakifBank, also arriving in the country were reigning champion Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul, American powerhouse Rexona-Sesc Rio and European title-holder Pomi Casalmaggiore, promising a slam-bang spectacle in this tourney that is also backed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Rexona, Mall of Asia Arena and Foton, Price Waterhouse Cooper.

Olympics silver medalist Tijana Boskovic, four-time World Grand Prix gold medalist Titiana Kosheleva and prolific American Jordan Larson spearheaded Eczacibasi VitrA while Gabi Guimaraes, Juicely Barreto and Anne Bujis bannered the star-studded Brazilian side, which was on the same flight with Carli Lloyd, Valentina Tirrozi and the entire Pomi Casalmaggiore squad.

Gabi, a three-time World Grand Prix gold medalist, said she’s looking forward to a tough battle as well as to visit some famous tourists destinations in the country.

“I’m very excited to be here. I’ve been looking forward to this trip,” she said. “Aside from competitive volleyball, I’m really excited to meet the people and see the beaches here. I heard the tourists spots in this country are really world-class.”

“It’s really a tough competition. The best volleyball players will be competing so it will be great.”

Swiss superpower Volero Zurich was the first team to arrive when they landed Thursday night.

On the other hand, Asian titans Hisamitsu Springs Kobe and Bangkok Glass are set to check in Sunday.

“The World Club Championship fever is starting to be felt,” said PSL president Ramon Suzara. “So we encourage all fans to go out and support our home team as it battles the best club teams in the world.”

The home squad will be represented by PSL-F2 Logistics Manila headed by skipper Rachel Anne Daquis and locals stars Mika Reyes, Kim Fajardo, Jaja Santiago, Frances Molina, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Jen Reyes together with imports Stephanie Niemer and Lindsay Stalzer of the United States, Lynda Morales of Puerto Rico, Tichaya Boonlert of Thailand, Yuri Fukuda of Japan, Yevgeniya Nyukhalova of Ukraine and Ekaterina Krivets of Russia.

Noted Serbian mentor Moro Branislav will call the shots with the help of Japanese trainer Shun Takahashi.