Novara's captain Cristina Chirichella scored nine points against Perugia (Photo: Igor Gorgonzola Novara)

Three-time Italian Cup winners Igor Gorgonzola Novara took advantage of points dropped by rivals Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano and Savino Del Bene Scandicci in the fifth week of the 2021-2022 Italian Women’s League to move up to second place in the standings.

Novara put an end to a recent bad run of form, which resulted in a straight-set loss to Conegliano and a hard-fought, five-set victory over Vero Volley Monza, with a convincing 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-15) win over Bartoccini Fortinfisse Perugia on Sunday. The result moved the team to second place in the standings with 11 points – three behind Conegliano and tied with Scandicci - and four wins in five matches.

“I am happy for the team because it was a battle and it feels good to have won it,” said setter Illaria Battistoni, who came off the bench to be awarded as the match’s Most Valuable Player. “It was good to enter the match and help the team, that’s what I work for, to be ready when needed. But the most important thing is that we took all three points.”

Turkish star opposite Ebrar Karakurt led all scorers with 19 points (16 kills, two blocks, one ace) while Dutch outside hitter Nika Daalderop added 14 (12 kills, two blocks). Italians Anastasia Guerra and Valentina Diouf produced 15 and 12 for Perugia, respectively.

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On Saturday, three-time defending champions Conegliano got as close as it gets to seeing their long-lasting undefeated run snapped by Monza, but still managed to fight back and pull out a 3-2 (14-25, 25-20, 25-27, 25-20, 15-13) victory to secure their 70th-straight win and the fifth in the season.

“It was a big display of strength from our team,” head coach Daniele Santarelli said. “I’m really proud of the team because of the way we kept fighting when things weren’t going our way. We know we have a lot of work to do, but this is a tremendous victory. Regardless of the conditions or the difficulties, this team always finds a way to win.”

American outside hitter Kathryn Plummer scored 22 points (18 kills, four blocks) and was Conegliano’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in a match in which star opposite Paola Egonu had a lower production than usual, adding 17, including the game-winning ace. Monza’s Polish opposite Magdalena Stysiak was the match’s top scorer with 29 points (24 kills, three aces, two blocks).


Plummer took over the scoring duties for Conegliano against Monza (Photo: Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano)

Scandicci triumphed in another thriller, a pivotal road match against Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio on Sunday to get a single-point advantage over their opponents in the standings. The team coached by former Italian and Turkish national team coach Massimo Barbolini emerged victorious 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 16-25, 25-18, 15-12) in a match that featured several lead changes and turnarounds. The club have now won four straight matches after dropping the season opener to VBC Trasporti Pesanti Casalmaggiore.

Scandicci couldn’t do much to stop the league’s top scorer, Busto Arsizio’s opposite Camila Mingardi, who delivered a match-high 27 points (26 kills, one ace), but got great production from Louisa Lippmann and Natalia Pereira. The German opposite and the Brazilian Olympic champion registered 23 (22 kills, one block) and 20 (19 kills, one ace) points respectively for the winners. Blocking was probably the main difference between the two teams as Scandicci amassed 11 stops at the net, four of which were by Brazilian Ana Beatriz ‘Bia’ Correa, against six by Busto Arsizio.

Earlier on Saturday, Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri counted on 23 points from captain Kaja Grobelna and 20 from French outside hitter Helena Cazaute to come from behind and defeat Delta Despar Trentino 3-1 (30-32, 25-19, 25-22, 25-13).

The two other matches on Sunday ended in straight sets with American outside hitter Khalia Lanier scoring 26 points to help Volley Bergamo upset Casalmaggiore on the road and Russian Sofya Kuznetsova leading Bosca S. Bernardo Cuneo’s triumph over Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia with 16.

The fifth weekend of the Italian League concludes on Monday, when Acqua & Sapone Roma Volley Club and Il Bisonte Firenze meet at 20.30 local time / 18.30 GMT. If Firenze win 3-0 or 3-1, they will leapfrog Novara, Scandicci and Busto Arsizio to rank second in the standings.

All matches of the Italian League are streamed live on VolleyballWorld.tv.

Get all the results, statistics and more on the official website of the Italian women's League.