The players of Perugia celebrate

The players of Perugia celebrate

Itas Trentino doubled their lead in Italy’s SuperLega Credem Banca semifinal playoff against Cucine Lube Civitanova and are now just a win away from booking their spot in the final. Whether they will close the series when they visit Civitanova Marche again for the third match or whether the defending champions will take advantage of the home court factor to stay in contention will become known on Thursday.

The other semifinal series, between Sir Safety Conad Perugia and Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena, is now tied at one all, promising at least two more games before it is over. The next match is on Wednesday. All SuperLega matches are available live on Volleyball TV.

Perugia reacted swiftly to the upset they suffered at home at the hands of Modena in the first game of their series and, in turn, managed a four-set away win as they paid back the visit for the second match on Sunday. Experienced American star Matthew Anderson led Perugia to a 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21) victory at the PalaPanini to level the best-of-five playoff at a win each. Anderson was Perugia’s best scorer on a total of 18 points. He registered a 58% success rate in attack and added two stuff blocks and an ace to his tally. His Cuban-born Polish teammate Wilfredo Leon aced three times and added two kill blocks towards a 15-point total, while Argentinean middle Sebastian Sole impressed with as many as six stuffs in the match. The MVP nomination went to libero Massimo Colaci, who handled 64% of the opponents’ serves directed at him well.

Top Plays from Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena vs. Sir Safety Conad Perugia

Modena’s French star Earvin Ngapeth was on fire with four aces, a block and 55% success in spiking towards the match high of 23 points. Dutch opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz added another 19 points, but the two players' efforts were not enough for another upset of the regular season winners.

Wednesday’s game three in Perugia is scheduled at 20:30 local time. For the fourth match, the series will move back to Modena on Sunday at 18:00. Should the two teams exchange defeats again, the fifth-game decider is scheduled for the following Wednesday, April 27, in Perugia.

“The most important thing was to win. We played much better than in game one, but these are the playoffs and each game makes its own story for both the teams and the individual players. We are aware of it and we must have continuity if we want to beat a team of champions like Modena.” Massimo Colaci, libero of Sir Safety Conad Perugia
“We weren't perfect. In matches like these you need to do better. We don't give up, we think about the next match and we are absolutely concentrated.” Bruno Rezende, setter and captain of Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena

Meanwhile, Trentino showed no mercy for Lube, who are now on the verge of losing their last chance to win a trophy this season. Playing at home at the BLM Group Arena in Trento, Matey Kaziyski and his teammates hammered out another shutout of the defending champions and edged forward to within a win from making the final. With Trentino’s setter Riccardo Sbertoli, who earned the MVP recognition, conducting the team, Bulgarian captain Kaziyski spearheaded the offence and led the scorers on 12 spiking points at a 57% success rate in attack, together with opposite Daniele Lavia, whose 12 points included two aces and a block. Serbian stars Srecko Lisinac and Marko Podrascanin showed high effectiveness hitting through the middle and registered 86% and 67% success rates, respectively.

Top Plays from Itas Trentino vs. Cucine Lube Civitanova

Lube’s Italian standout Ivan Zaytsev topped the overall scorers’ chart on 13 points. His Cuban teammates Marlon Yant and Robertlandy Simon also reached double digits, with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Civitanova’s Eurosuole Forum will host the third match of the series, which could be the last if Trentino win again, on Thursday at 20:30 local time.

“Although Lube played better than in game one, this match was more heartfelt because it was played in front of a home crowd that also came in large numbers on Easter Monday. I am thrilled to see so many people passionate about volleyball. This means that we bring them emotions, which is a great satisfaction for us. Game three will be more difficult. We know that the more you advance, the more complicated the games become. But tonight we definitely took another step forward.” Riccardo Sbertoli, setter of Itas Trentino
“Now the situation in the series is really very difficult, but we must be aware that it is not over yet and try to play as a team, with our heads, and without the obvious anxiety of the first two matches. We need to be able to have fun on the court and play more loosely.” Osmany Juantorena, outside hitter of Cucine Lube Civitanova

The six-team single round-robin playoff race for the fifth place in the final standings, which grants a spot in next season’s CEV Challenge Cup continental tournament, also got underway over the weekend.

Gyorgy Grozer led Vero Volley Monza to a 3-1 (13-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18) away win over Allianz Milano on Saturday. The German opposite contributed 19 points (three aces, two blocks), one short of Thomas Jaeschke’s 20 on Milano’s side.

Top Plays from Allianz Milano vs. Vero Volley Monza

On Sunday, Adis Lagumdzija (17 points) and Aaron Russell (16) were the best scorers in Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza’s 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-22) home win over Top Volley Cisterna, while Verona Volley also hammered out a straight-set victory at home, 3-0 (28-26, 25-22, 25-17) over Gioiella Prisma Taranto, with Mads Kyed Jensen delivering the match high of 16 points.

In the second set of matches next weekend, Verona play at Monza on Saturday; and then on Sunday, Cisterna will visit Milano, while Piacenza travel to Taranto.

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