De Kruijf

One of the few veterans on Conegliano's lineup, Robin De Kruijf scored 11 points

Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano are back at the top of the standings of the Lega Pallavolo vivo Serie A1 Femminile for the first time since February 6 after the defending champions played and won one of their postponed matches in the Italian League on Wednesday.

Despite playing without opposite Paola Egounu, team captain and setter Joanna Wolosz, middle blocker Raphaela Folie and outside hitter Miriam Sylla, the reigning European champions pulled off a 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-22) victory over Volley Bergamo in a second leg 13th round match.

In Egonu’s absence, American outside hitters Kathryn Plummer and Megan Courtney stepped up, scoring 19 (18 kills, one block) and 14 points (all in kills) respectively. Backup opposite Loveth Omoruyi came off the bench in the second set and produced 17 points (12 kills, five blocks).

“I’m happy because we played three sets at a very good level, at our usual rhythm,” said Bulgarian middle blocker Hristina Vuchkova, who scored nine points with six kills, two blocks and one ace. “Our younger players had a chance to play tonight and they did really well. Hopefully we can play our all in the first three sets next match.”

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The victory alone, however, wouldn’t have been enough to help Conegliano overtake Igor Gorgonzola Novara at the top of the standings. The leaders, however, had a complicated match against Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri and dropped a point along the way.

Novara came out on top, winning 3-2 (20-25, 30-28, 25-21, 22-25, 15-12), but took just two points and allowed Conegliano to catch up with them, tying at 60 points. The defending champions, however, have a better set ratio (3.045 to 3) and therefor take first place in the Italian League.


Novara's block tries to stop Chieri's Francesca Villani

Three players carried Novara’s offence in the match, most notably Belgian outside hitter Britt Herbots, who scored 19 points (18 kills, one block). Turkish opposite Ebrar Karakut and Italian outside hitter Catarina Bosetti produced 17 points each.

“I’m very happy that I got to contribute to the team’s victory,” Herbots said as she received the match's MVP award. “Chieri played a great match but we fought until the end because we knew those points would be very important to us. We have some difficult matches ahead of us, but we’ll be ready for them.”

The other match of the day had Il Bisonte Firenze defeating Bartoccini Fortinfissi Perugia in straight sets (26-24, 25-23, 25-18). Firenze’s opposite Sylvia Nwakalor led all scorers with 22 points (19 kills, three blocks).

The action continues in the Italian League on Sunday, with seven matches of the 12th round of the second leg of the season set to take place.