Antropova2

Antropova had another stellar performance for Scandicci and helped her team win the series against Busto

Savino del Bene Scandicci, Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano and Vero Volley Monza were the first three teams to book a place in the semifinals of the Lega Pallavolo vivo Serie A1 Femminile after they ended their best-of-three quarterfinal series with consecutive wins on Wednesday.

The fourth and final spot will be determined this weekend, when Igor Gorgonzola Novara and Bosca S. Bernardo Cuneo, who split wins in their first two matches, meet for a final and decisive match.

Ranked fourth in the regular season, Scandicci were surprisingly dominant against fifth-placed Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio, not dropping a single set to their opponents in their quarterfinal series. The reigning CEV Challenge Cup winners secured their fourth-straight semifinal appearance in the Italian League with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-15) road win over Busto on Wednesday.

One of Scandicci’s top players in the season, Russian Ekaterina Antropova gave yet another display of her stellar potential as the 19-year-old, 2.02m-tall opposite produced a match-high 25 points, with 19 kills and six aces, to take home the MVP award. Outside hitter Elena Pietrini added another 14 (12 kills, two blocks).

Another of the keys to Scandicci’s victory was limiting Busto’s opposite Camilla Mingardi, the second-best scorer in the season, to just nine points and a 13.95% efficiency rate in offence.

“The ladies did really well,” Scandicci’s coach Massimo Barbolini reflected. “We had talked about being careful because in the playoffs things can change in a heartbeat and they responded really well. We pushed a lot and only made mistakes when we had to take risks. Ending our series in two matches gives us a full week to prepare for the semifinals and we’ll take the first two days to enjoy and rest.”

Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio vs. Savino Del Bene Scandicci - Match Highlights

Barbolini and his Scandicci players should use all the time they have available to prepare for the semifinals as they’ll face defending champions Conegliano. The regular season winners had their least eventful encounter of the season against Il Bisonte Firenze in the second leg of the quarterfinals on Wednesday and cruised to a straight-set (25-17, 25-22, 25-23) road victory.

“We’re happy with the result,” said Conegliano’s coach Daniele Santarelli. “The first set was really good as our level of attention was very high. But then we relaxed and our level dropped too much, allowing Firenze to recover. In the playoffs, these mistakes can cost you too much and we’ll need to do much better in the semifinals as the level will be higher.”

Il Bisonte Firenze vs. Imoco Volley Conegliano - Match Highlights

Opposite Paola Egonu topped all scorers with 21 points (19 kills, two blocks) and took home the MVP award. Dutch middle blocker Robin De Kruijf, with 11 points (seven kills, two blocks, two aces), and Italian outside hitter Miriam Sylla, with ten (eight kills, two blocks), also reached double digits in scoring. Firenze’s most productive player was opposite Sylvia Nwakalor, who tallied 18 points, with 16 kills and two blocks.

Vero Volley Monza dropped a set against Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri, but were still able to win 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19) on the road and also take the quarterfinal series involving the teams to an end.

Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri vs. Vero Volley Monza - Match Highlights

Belgian opposite Lise van Hecke was the most productive player on the court with 20 points (18 kills, one block, one ace) and was selected as the match’s MVP. Outside hitters Alessia Gennari, with 15 points, and Jordan Larson, with 12, also had major contributions to Monza’s triumph.

“Chieri played really well with their blocking and defence,” Van Hecke commented. “They really demanded our best to score every point. But we wanted too much to be in the semifinals and that showed in the fourth set.”

Chieri had two players scoring in double digits in Belgian opposite Kaja Grobelna, who delivered 12 points (ten kills, one block, one ace), and French outside hitter Helena Cazaute, who added 11, all in kills.

Monza’s semifinal opponents are yet to be determined as the series between Novara and Cuneo remains open. Playing at home, the seventh-placed Cuneo upset second-placed Novara with a 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-15) victory that forced the third match.

Bosca S.Bernardo Cuneo vs. Igor Gorgonzola Novara - Match Highlights

Lucille Gicquel, Alice Degradi and Federica Squarcini combined for 46 points with the opposite producing a match-high 18 (12 kills, three blocks, three aces), the outside hitter tallying 16 (13 kills, three aces) and the middle blocker adding another 12 (eight kills, four blocks). Libero Illaria Spirito was also in top form and was selected as the MVP.

“We didn’t want our season to end with the bad performance we had on the weekend,” Spirito commented. “We needed to be brave coming to the match today and I want to congratulate my teammates for that. We need to keep that same attitude and audacity in the third match.”

Turkish opposite Ebrar Karakurt, with 16 points (13 kills, three blocks), and American middle blocker Haleigh Washington, with 13 (seven kills, five blocks, one ace), were Novara’s main players on the court.