Super Lega 2021 - News

Yuji Nishida

The last knots in Italy’s SuperLega Credem Banca regular season were finally untied on Sunday as Top Volley Cisterna grabbed the last available vacancy in the quarterfinal playoffs, Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia stayed below the safety line and lost their top-division spot for next season, while Cucine Lube Civitanova locked in the runner-up position in the standings despite losing to Sir Safety Conad Perugia in the weekend’s big match.

Vibo’s Japanese opposite Yuji Nishida had another solid performance as the team hosted sixth-placed Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza for their last match of the regular season, but his five aces, two kill blocks and 14 spiking points in the match high of 21 points were not enough for anything more than a three-set defeat. Led by their Turkish opposite Adis Lagumdzija with 14 points, including three stuffs, Piacenza showed no mercy for their hosts and produced a hard-fought 3-0 (31-29, 25-23, 25-20) shutout, which proved to be Tonno Callipo’s last match in the SuperLega for the time being.

After finishing on a 7-17 win-loss record and 22 points, the club from Vibo Valentia took the 12th place in the table and joined winless Consar RCM Ravenna in the ranks of Serie A2 for the 2022-2023 season.

Top Volley Cisterna did what they had to do to remain in the eighth place in the standings with a 3-0 (28-26, 25-19, 25-23) home victory over third-placed Itas Trentino Trento. Canadian international Stephen Maar was Cisterna’s leading scorer with 15 points to his name, while his teammate, Australian middle blocker Aidan Zingel impressed with five stuff blocks. Trentino’s rising star Alessandro Michieletto was the top scorer of the match with 22 points, including two aces and two blocks. Cisterna finished on 10-14 and 30 points, earning a chance to face regular season winners Sir Safety Conad Perugia in one of the upcoming quarterfinal playoff series.

Perugia made sure to finish the regular season on a high note, with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 31-29) home win over their main rival for the championship title, second-placed Cucine Lube Civitanova. Their Cuban-born Polish star Wilfredo Leon spiked at a 56% success rate to pile up 15 kills, five stuffs and two aces towards the match high of 22 points, followed by Luxembourgish opposite Kamil Rychlicki on 20 points and Ukrainian outside Oleh Plotnytskyi on 13 (three aces, two blocks). The good news for Lube was related to the recovery of their star player Osmany Juantorena. After a long absence due to injury, the Cuban-born outside hitter returned to the court earlier in the week as a substitution in the Champions League game at Poland’s Jastrzebski Wegiel Jastrzebie-Zdroj, and in the match against Perugia, he was in Lube’s starting line-up for all three sets, leading their scorers on 12 points.

“We played good volleyball, we worked hard all week because we wanted to win and we kept the right attitude. The audience? Beautiful! When we were down in the third set, our fans didn't give up and gave us that energy to get back up and win it.” Sebastian Sole, middle blocker of Sir Safety Conad Perugia

Perugia topped the table on 22-2 and 67 points. Lube are second on 18-5 and 54 points, with a game in hand (they will host Allianz Milano for a postponed match on Wednesday), followed by Trentino in third on 17-7 and 53, and Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena in fourth on 18-6 and 51.

On Sunday, Modena claimed a hard-fought 3-1 (33-31, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22) home win over Kioene Padova, who were also threatened by relegation. Cuban-born Brazilian Yoandy Leal delivered 22 points, all in attack at a 63% success rate. His French teammate Earvin Ngapeth added another 20 points. Padova’s German opposite Linus Weber produced the match high of 28 points.

Padova survived in the SuperLega, finishing just above the red line, in 11th place on 9-15 and 24, two points clear of Vibo Valentia, two points short of Gioiella Prisma Taranto and three short of Verona Volley.

Before their last match on Sunday, Verona were also at risk of ending up in the relegation zone, but avoided that with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-18, 27-25) home win over seventh-placed Vero Volley Monza, on the wings of a 23-point (three aces, two blocks) match high by Danish opposite Mads Kyed Jensen and another 22 points by Slovenian outside Rok Mozic. A duo of Bulgarian internationals led Monza in scoring. Middle blocker Aleks Grozdanov made 14 points, including four stuffs and two aces, while opposite Denis Karyagin added 13.

The victory helped Verona step ahead of Taranto and into ninth place. Fifth-placed Milano managed a 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20) home win over Taranto with a 20-point match high by Italian international Yuri Romano, including three aces and a block.

The best-of-three quarterfinal playoffs start on Saturday with the first-leg encounter between Trentino and Piacenza. The other six participants join the action on Sunday with Perugia hosting Cisterna, Lube welcoming Monza, and Modena entertaining Milano.

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