Simon

In an epic finals, both of Italy’s amazing SuperLega Credem Banca semifinal playoffs continue with Sir Safety Conad Perugia and Cucine Lube Civitanova winning the fourth matches away and tying their series at two wins each. The exciting series, however, will have to end on Wednesday, April 27, when the two teams host their opponents, Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena and Itas Trentino, respectively, for the deciding fifth matches. Both will be played at 20:30 local time.

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Captain Wilfredo Leon was Perugia’s hero on Sunday evening at the PalaPanini in Modena. The Cuban-born Polish international produced the match high of 20 points, including two blocks and as many as five aces. After 12-11 in the tie-breaker set, the match MVP added two aces in a row to deliver the match point on the way to a 3-2 (21-25, 25-17, 25-16, 19-25, 15-12) victory.

It was, however, Perugia’s blocking that made the difference. The visiting side claimed as many as 20 stuffs during the five sets of the game, compared to only six by Modena. Argentinean middle Sebastien Sole led the way with five kill blocks, followed by the other middle, Fabio Ricci, and setter Simone Giannelli with four apiece, and outside hitter Matthew Anderson with three. The American star also led Perugia’s offensive efforts, hitting 13 points at a 54% success rate towards a match total of 17.

Modena’s spikers hammered 56 kills against 44 for Perugia, but that proved insufficient to earn a spot in the final. Their best scorer, Dutch opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz finished with 19 points. His teammate, French outside Earvin Ngapeth added 15.

Top Plays: Modena v Perugia

With all four of this playoff’s matches so far resolved in favour of the away team, the final victory in the series will be played for when regular season winners Perugia welcome fourth-placed Modena to the Pala Barton for Wednesday’s decider.

“I am happy that we are bringing the series to our home venue for the fifth game. It was another beautiful and very tough game in a very balanced series, played at a very high level by both teams with neither backing off an inch. It is matches like that that make volleyball so exciting!” Wilfredo Leon, outside hitter and captain of Perugia
“We are playing against a great team and it's the details that decide the outcome of the matches. What matters is to always be there, to stay in the match until the end...” Andrea Giani, head coach of Modena

Top Scorer - Wilfredo Leon Venero (Modena v Perugia)

In the other semifinal series, and despite an impressive 29-point tally by Trentino’s 37-year-old star Matey Kaziyski, Lube celebrated a 3-1 (25-19, 27-29, 25-22, 25-22) away victory at the BLM Group Arena on Wednesday to wipe out their opponents’ two-win advantage and level the playoff at two wins each. The Bulgarian outside hitter spiked at a solid 63% success rate and produced two kill blocks to top the scorers’ chart of the match, but the MVP nomination went to Cuban middle blocker Robertlandy Simon, whose brilliant efforts made him the leading scorer on the winning side. His total of 20 points included five stuffs, two aces and 13 kills at a 62% success rate.

Brazilian outside Ricardo Lucarelli was Lube’s next most productive player with 13 points, including 12 spikes at a 57% success rate, while Trentino’s Serbian middle Srecko Lisinac was the match’s most efficient hitter registering 69% success in his attacks.

Lube will now enter the crucial encounter with both the psychological and the home-court advantage on their side as they entertain Trentino at the Eurosuole Forum on Wednesday.

“It was a teamwork victory. All the guys in the squad made a fundamental contribution. Now we will play game five in Civitanova with the imperative to win the spot in the final that we really want. This team has managed to overcome some great difficulties since the beginning of the season and our comeback in the series is yet another proof of our great character.” Ricardo Lucarelli, outside hitter of Civitanova
“Our opponents played much better than us. Despite this, I think we had our chances, fighting point for point for a long time. Unfortunately, in some key moments of the match we lost concentration, making mistakes that we could have avoided. After the many sets we have played recently, we feel very tired, but we have to recover and play well in game five, which will certainly be a great battle.” Matey Kaziyski, outside hitter and captain of Trentino

Top Scorer - Matey Kaziyski (Trentino v Civitanova)

In the race for fifth place, meanwhile, German opposite Gyorgy Grozer scored 23 points, including three aces, to lead Vero Volley Monza to their second four-set win as the second leg of the six-team single round robin took place over the weekend. Monza achieved a 3-1 (25-23, 17-25, 25-13, 25-16) victory over Verona Volley.

Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza kept their lead alive as they hammered out a second straight-set victory, a hard-fought 3-0 (27-25, 25-20, 26-24) away shutout of Gioiella Prisma Taranto on a 17-point match high by Turkish opposite Adis Lagumdzija.

Top Scorer - Stephen Maar (Milano v Cisterna)

Top Volley Cisterna meanwhile claimed their first victory and handed Allianz Milano their second four-set defeat at home, as Canadian outside Stephen Maar contributed 27 points (three aces, two blocks and 22 kills at a 71% success rate) to the 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-21, 25-16) win.

In Wednesday’s third leg, Piacenza will host Monza to determine which team remains unbeaten in the race. Verona welcome Milano, while Taranto travel to Cisterna.

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