Lega Pallavolo Serie A Femminile 2022 - News

Isabelle Haak (Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano) against Vero Volley Milan (source: legavolleyfemminile.it)

Isabelle Haak

In front of a sell-out crowd of about four thousand spectators in Monza, Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano emphatically shut out hosts Vero Volley Milan on Saturday evening to level the championship series in Italy’s Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile at two wins each and push it to a deciding fifth match on Monday at the Palaverde.

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After allowing two consecutive upsets at the hands of Vero Volley, reigning club world champions and defending Italian champions Imoco showed that they’d had enough, regained the role of title favourites and hammered out a 3-0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-17) sweep of game four of the final playoff, spearheaded by their 23-year-old Generation O star Isabelle Haak. The Swedish opposite took control at the net and piled up 23 points towards the victory. She spiked at a 51% success rate and added three kill blocks to shape up the match high, earning a well-deserved Most Valuable Player award.

It was Imoco’s spiking and blocking that made the difference in the match. Only the first set was quite competitive and was decided in the overtime with Haak delivering the set winner at 26-24. With American outside hitter Kathryn Plummer (11 kills in offence) and Italian middle blocker Sarah Fahr (seven spiking points and three kill blocks) also reaching the double digits, Imoco tallied a total of 50 successful attacks against Vero Volley’s 38, and six stuffs against the opponents’ two. The game’s only ace was produced by Vero Volley’s Generation O star Magdalena Stysiak. The 22-year-old Polish opposite subbed in for USA’s Jordan Thompson during the second set, but her leading 12-point contribution was not enough for the hosts to change the course of the match.

For Monday’s deciding game, the series will move back to Imoco’s home venue in Villorba. The match will start at 20:45 local time (18:45 UTC).

“I think today's match highlighted the kind of opponent we're facing,” said Vero Volley’s head coach Marco Gaspari. “This is Conegliano! They have quality in every department. That doesn't mean we won't go to game five trying to win, but if we play like this it will be tough. Plummer was unmanageable, Haak always pushed through, while we wasted many of our chances. Our quality has dropped a little, due to tension, due to tiredness... But I saw a clearly superior team in front of us, the one that dominated the championship, raising the level in all departments. We are even and tied on everything: two 3-2s and two 3-0s. Now let's go to game five and see what happens!”

“No party just yet, because we didn't do anything,” Imoco’s head coach Daniele Santarelli commented. “But we finally played a good game after three matches with too many ups and downs, also thanks to a great Milan. Today I saw an orderly, balanced team that made few mistakes and attacked as they should. We started the first set tight with many mistakes, but we wanted to go to game five, we owed it to ourselves and to these fans, and it was right for it to end like this. I think Bella has done her duty. She's a striker and she has to do that. Indeed, if she doesn't do it, I will be upset. I think it was a very good team performance. Everyone made themselves available to the team by playing a great game: from the wing spikers to the middle blockers. I'm really happy we finally did a great block-defence job. I'm really satisfied tonight. Now in this last match, at a wonderful Palaverde with a wonderful crowd, we won't give up this champions’ title easily!”

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s Final Playoff:
May 6: Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v Vero Volley Milan 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 15-11)
May 9: Vero Volley Milan v Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-18)
May 11: Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v Vero Volley Milan, 2-3 (21-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-27, 13-15)
May 13: Vero Volley Milan v Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano, 0-3 (24-26, 20-25, 17-25)
May 15: Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v Vero Volley Milan, 20:45 local (18:45 UTC)