Zhu faces Bergamo's block during Scandicci's victory

Savino Del Bene Scandicci took advantage of Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano’s absence in this weekend’s Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile action and closed the gap to the recently-crowned world champions at the top of the Italian League standings.

With the league leaders busy competing at the 2022 Volleyball Women’s Club World Champs in Antalya, Türkiye, Scandicci secured their ninth victory in the season by topping Volley Bergamo 3-1 (25-15, 25-15, 15-25, 25-18) on the road on Sunday.

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With nine wins in 12 matches, Scandicci, who were the only team to defeat Conegliano so far in the Italian League, are now just three points (32 to 29) behind their rivals, who have 11 victories. Third-placed Vero Volley Milano (28 points, ten wins) and fourth-placed Igor Gorgonzola Novara (27 points, ten wins) also won over the weekend, intensifying the fight for the top spot in the standings.

Volley Bergamo 1991 vs. Savino Del Bene Scandicci - Match Highlights

Undefeated in their last three matches, Scandicci benefited from another great performance from young Russian player Ekaterina Antropova to overcome Bergamo. The team’s top scorer last season, the 19-year-old opposite produced 20 points (16 kills, two blocks, two aces) to lead the way in Scandicci’s triumph and received the match’s Most Valuable Player award.

“The team showed excellent signs in this match,” head coach Massimo Barbolini reflected. “We displayed a great desire to win and to make sacrifices. We did a very good job in the first two sets, then let them back into the game in the third, but were able to create a lead in the middle of the fourth set and to keep it until the end.”

Scandicci’s outside hitter duo formed by Chinese star Zhu Ting and Italian national team player Elena Pietrini contributed 20 points – ten each. Bergamo’s outside hitter Khalia Lanier matched Antropova’s production with 20 points as she registered 17 kills, two blocks and one ace.

Third-placed Milano rebounded from last week’s defeat to Novara with an emphatic sweep (25-19, 27-25, 25-21) of Il Bisonte Firenze on the road. The home team had the top scorer of the match in Belgian outside hitter Britt Herbots, who left the court with 17 points (15 kills, two blocks).

Milano's veteran middle blocker Raphaela Folie was their main scorer with 13 points (nine kills, three blocks, one ace) while American Olympic champion outside hitter Jordan Larson tallied 11 (all in kills) in the second match after her return to the club.

Il Bisonte Firenze vs. Vero Volley Milano - Match Highlights

Novara were on the court earlier, on Saturday, but also triumphed in straight sets. Playing at home, the team overcame Megabox Ondulati Savio Vallefoglia 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-18) to confirm their good form and celebrate their fifth consecutive victory.

Cuban outside hitter Kenia Carcaces led Novara’s offense with 17 points (15 kills, two blocks), while Turkish star opposite Ebrar Karakurt added another 14 (12 kills, two aces). Vallefoglia’s captain, veteran Russian outside hitter Tatyana Kosheleva tallied nine points with eight kills and one ace.

“We played a very good match,” Carcaces commented. “We came here determined to take all three points and we did it. I hope we can keep that same energy for our last match of the year and end 2022 in a good form.”


Carcaces led Novara's offense against Vallefoglia

In the other two matches played on Sunday, Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio defeated Cuneo Granda S. Bernardo 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-22) and Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri topped Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia in straight sets (25-19, 25-16, 25-18).

The weekend round will be completed on Monday, at 20:00 local time (19:00), with the encounter between Wash4Green Pinerolo and Trasporti Pesanti Casalmaggiore.