Alessandro Michieletto - Itas Trentino Trento

It’s decision time in the only remaining quarterfinal series of Italy’s SuperLega Credem Banca quarterfinals. On Sunday, at 18:30 local time, Itas Trentino Trento entertain Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza in the crucial third game between the two teams that will determine the last semifinalist of the championship.

The best-of-three series is tied at a win each. On March 26, coach Angelo Lorenzetti’s squad mastered a straight-set victory at home in Trento, with 21-year-old rising Italian star Alessandro Michieletto delivering as many as five aces and sharing the top scorer honours with Piacenza’s Turkish opposite Adis Lagumdzija on 15 points apiece.

The second match on April 3 was a real thriller. At home, in Piacenza, coach Lorenzo Bernardi’s players mounted a furious comeback from two sets down to emerge victorious in a nail-biting 24-22 tie-breaker. This time it was Piacenza’s American outside hitter Aaron Russell who hammered five aces, towards a match-high 33 points. Bulgarian standout Matey Kaziyski’s 24 points proved insufficient for Trentino to close the series and avoid a third encounter.

That was Piacenza’s first win over Trentino in almost five and a half years. The last time that happened was in November 2016. After that, Trentino went 14-0 in the head-to-heads across all competitions, until last Sunday.

“The match in Piacenza was intense, beautiful and fun to play. Now we will be able to play at home, in front of our fans. We knew that a third match was a possibility and we accept it without a problem.” Riccardo Sbertoli, setter of Itas Trentino Trento

While Trentino, who finished third in the regular season standings, have the home-court advantage as they welcome their sixth-placed opponents to the BLM Group Arena this weekend, Piacenza are enjoying the luxury of having this encounter as the sole thing to focus on.

At the same time, the players and staff from Trento have to split their attention between the preparations of two important games ahead. Before hosting the SuperLega quarterfinal with Piacenza on Sunday, the BLM Group Arena will be the battleground for the second CEV Champions League semifinal match between Trentino and Italian compatriots Sir Safety Conad Perugia on Thursday. Lorenzetti’s team emerged with a 3-2 advantage from the first game in Perugia last week, and that spells a huge battle as regular season winners Perugia return the visit for the decider.

The eventual winners of Sunday’s match and the quarterfinal series will advance to a best-of-five semifinal playoff against defending champions Cucine Lube Civitanova.

“The epilogue of the second match inevitably left us a little bitter, because we were really close and it was a matter of small details. We felt physical fatigue, and this is not an excuse, but a simple fact. But we have to think about the next matches. A fundamental task to continue our quest in two competitions awaits us. We have to put aside the fatigue because it is too important to win both games. One is no less important than the other. We have two great and spectacular matches not only to play, but also to watch.” Oreste Cavuto, outside hitter of Itas Trentino Trento
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