Karakurt Novara

Karakurt was unstoppable against Monza and led Novara to victory

The two best teams of the Lega Pallavolo vivo Serie A1 Femminile regular season, Igor Gorgonzola Novara and Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano are both just one win away from meeting in the final of the Italian League for a fourth-straight season after they won the first leg of their semifinal series.

Defending champions and regular season winners Conegliano can continue moving forward in their title defence on Saturday, when they go on the road against Savino del Bene Scandicci at 20.45 local time in the second leg of their best-of-three semifinals.

Novara, who finished second in the regular season, will have their first opportunity to secure a spot in the final series on Sunday, at 20.00, when they take on Vero Volley Monza on the road.

Watch both matches live or on demand on Volleyball TV

In both semifinals, star power was a key factor for the teams that won their first leg matches. Novara, who came out on top in a thrilling five-set (25-22, 25-18, 29-31, 20-25, 15-12), 140-minute battle against Monza, there were stellar performances by opposite Ebrar Karakurt and outside hitter Nika Daalderop, who combined for 49 points. The Turkish player, who received the match’s MVP award, scored 29 points (22 kills, five aces, two blocks) while the Dutch player added 20 (18 kills, two aces).

Novara also benefited from a strong serving performance as they outscored Monza from the service line by 11 to four points. Monza, on the other hand, were stronger at the net registering 16 block points to Novara’s nine.

Igor Gorgonzola Novara vs. Vero Volley Monza - Match Highlights

“We’re very happy that we managed to win,” Daalderop commented. “It was important to start by winning at home, but, as our quarterfinal duel with Cuneo showed, we need to be ready for a long series. I think one of the keys tonight was that we kept believing even in the most difficult moments. We’ll need to do even better on Sunday and we’ll be ready for it.”

Belgian opposite Lise van Hecke (16 kills, two blocks) and American outside hitter Jordan Larson (15 kills, three blocks) were Monza’s most productive players on the court with 18 points apiece. Middle blockers Dana Rettke and Anna Danesi had 15 (11 kills, three blocks, one ace) and 13 points (six blocks, five kills, two aces), respectively.

Folie

Folie was instrumental to Conegliano's win with her solid presence at the net

In Conegliano’s case, setter Joanna Wolosz and opposite Paola Egonu were the key players in the team’s 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-21) victory, which extended the defending champions’ winning streak against Scandicci to 12 matches.

Imoco Volley Conegliano vs. Savino Del Bene Scandicci -Match Highlights

While the Polish setter and team captain excelled with her ball distribution and took home the MVP award, the Italian opposite was as efficient as usual offensively, producing a match-high 18 points (17 kills, one block).

“I think we had some ups and downs and that made all three sets really close,” Wolosz reacted. “But we know Scandicci are a very strong team and we expect another battle at the weekend, when they’ll be at home. It won’t be easy, for sure, but we’ll prepare as well as we can for the second leg.”

Italian national team middle blocker Raphaela Folie also had a tremendous performance, registering a match-high four blocks and an incredible 89% efficiency rate in offence to produce eight kills and bring her points total to 12.

Russia opposite Ekaterina Antropova was Scandicci’s top scorer with ten points (all in kills), followed by outside hitter Elena Pietrini, who scored eight (four kills, two blocks, two aces). German opposite Louisa Lippmann added seven (all in kills) coming off the bench.