Super Lega 2021 - News

Wilfredo Leon

The second of the season’s three big domestic trophies in Italian men’s volleyball will find its owner on Sunday, at the end of a three-match weekend which includes Saturday’s Del Monte Coppa Italia SuperLega semifinals and the big final for the national cup on the day after. All the action at the Unipol Arena in Casalecchio di Reno near Bologna will be available live and on demand on Volleyball TV.

The event will get underway at 15:15 local time on Saturday afternoon with the first semifinal between Sir Safety Conad Perugia and Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza, followed by the second battle for a spot in the final, between Itas Trentino and Allianz Milano, scheduled at 17:45. The trophy match on Sunday is set to start at 15:00.

The stellar squad from Perugia, featuring top-calibre international players, such as Poland’s Wilfredo Leon, USA’s Matthew Anderson, Argentina’s Sebastian Sole or Italy’s Simone Giannelli, to name a few, are the clear favourites in the first fixture. They are the current leaders of the Italian league, the SuperLega Credem Banca, on a 20-2 win-loss record and standing 13 points clear of their nearest rivals. They went unbeaten through the pool stage of the CEV Champions League to advance to the quarterfinals, and are currently on a 12-game winning streak across all competitions. Their overall record for the past four months includes 25 victories and only two defeats, both in hard-fought five-setters.

That run also includes a straight-set home win over Kioene Padova on January 19 in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals, when Leon led the way with 17 points, serving four aces. The team from Perugia participated in the last four national cup finals, all against Cucine Lube Civitanova, winning the trophy twice, in 2018 and 2019.

“We have been preparing for the Final Four since we qualified. Finally, there will be many fans at the event and I think all of us, players, want to give emotions to those who are watching. It will be a Final Four where the emotional aspect will be important. Each of the four teams will give their best on the court to bring home the trophy.” Wilfredo Leon, outside hitter and captain of Sir Safety Conad Perugia

The club from Piacenza are also among the past winners of the trophy. They triumphed as Coppa Italia laureates back in 2014, after a straight-set win over Perugia in the final. However, since producing a 3-1 upset of Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena in an away cup quarterfinal in mid January, they have been on a negative run in the Italian league, losing five of their last six matches. Olympic champ Antoine Brizard and his teammates stand seventh in the SuperLega table on a record of nine wins and 12 defeats.

“It's my first year in Italy and it's great to play in this championship. The Final Four will be truly a great emotion. We want to entertain everyone, including ourselves. We know that we play against a very strong team, so we will try to play our best volleyball.” Antoine Brizard, setter and captain of Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza

After winning the Supercoppa in October, Itas Trentino, on the other hand, will be looking for their second trophy of the season and their fourth national cup in history (after 2010, 2012 and 2013). In the first days of February, they lost three consecutive matches in the domestic league and the Champions League, but then came back with four back-to-back victories, and will hope to extend their successful streak through Saturday’s cup semifinal against Allianz Milano. The squad built around experienced stars like Bulgarian outside Matey Kaziyski and Serbian middle blockers Marko Podrascanin and Srecko Lisinac, as well as young Italian talents like Alessandro Michieletto and Daniele Lavia, have won 15 of their 21 SuperLega matches this season and occupy the third place in the standings on 48 points. To qualify for the cup semifinals, they claimed a straight-set victory over Vero Volley Monza at home in January.

“I am happy that we have managed to solve our physical problems in recent weeks - just on the eve of this competition - and I hope that we can actually be at our best to play a great Final Four.” Matey Kaziyski, outside hitter and captain of Itas Trentino Trento

Allianz Milano started 2022 with five wins in a row, including a stunning 3-1 upset of defending cup holders Cucine Lube Civitanova in the quarterfinals. However, they had mixed results in the next six games, winning three and losing three. They stand fifth in the SuperLega with 12 wins and 37 points in 21 matches. The club have never reached a Coppa Italia final, but with names like those of Tokyo 2020 gold medallists Jean Patry and Barthelemy Chinenyeze, American star Thomas Jaeschke or Japanese standout Yuki Ishikawa, they certainly have what it takes to change that this weekend.

“I play volleyball because I like it, because I have dreams and the Final Four is one of them. When Milan and I chose each other years ago, I was aware that I was no longer in a team aiming for all the finals, but at the same time the thing that has always moved me has been the strength to try and reach them. I think this is what moves the staff, the players, the public and the club to invest and believe. I have always said that the Final Four is the thing about the whole season that I like the best, because you know that after that the path will continue with all your teammates. Then, playing games in front of a large audience at a large venue, with many players and several different teams, is another reason to love this event.” Matteo Piano, middle blocker and captain of Allianz Milan