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Despite working with a different group of hitters, Giannelli led Perugia to their second victory in Betim

Italian sides Sir Safety Susa Perugia and Trentino Itas remain undefeated at the 2022 Men’s Club World Champs as the pool phase came to an end on Friday and are now set to face Brazilian teams in the semifinals of the tournament that is taking place at the Divino Braga Stadium in Betim, Brazil.

Set to start at 18:30 local time (21:30 GMT) on Saturday, the first semifinal will reunite the two winningest teams in the first 16 editions of the tournament – five-time champions Trentino, who topped Pool B, and four-time winners and defending champions Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei, who were second in Pool A.

Looking to claim the world title in their first appearance in the tournament, Pool A winners Perugia will face Pool B runners-up Itambé Minas in the second semifinal duel, set to start at 21:30 local time (00:30 GMT).

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Perugia showed strength in their second match in the tournament and completed their pool play campaign with a 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 29-31, 25-21) victory over Sada Cruzeiro on Friday. The Italians claimed the win with some lineup changes from their Thursday match as opposite Kamil Rychlicki remained on the bench while star outside hitter Wilfredo Leon and middle blocker Flavio Gualberto were only used in the fourth set.

Sada Cruzeiro vs. Perugia - Match Highlights

Rychliki’s substitute in Perugia’s starting lineup, Cuban Jaime Herrera led all scorers with 20 points (17 kills, one block, two aces). Two other new faces on the team against Sada Cruzeiro, Argentinean middle blocker Sebastian Sole and Ukrainian outside hitter Oleh Plotnytskyi tallied 15 (nine kills, five blocks, one ace) and 12 (ten kills, two aces) points respectively.

“I think we played really well against Sada Cruzeiro, who are one of the best teams in the world,” star setter Simone Giannelli, who scored eight points, commented. “I believe we managed to show our best level in the first two sets. It was very difficult, but we got a good win against a strong team and we’re happy about it. Minas have one of the best setters in the world in William (Arjona) and a very good team as well, so we’ll need to play at our best to advance.”

Sada Cruzeiro, who also rotated their lineup during the match, got ten points (all in kills) from star opposite and team captain Wallace de Souza. Backup opposite Welinton Oppenkoski came off the bench and chipped in another nine, with seven kills and two aces.

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Lavia faces Minas' triple block in Trentino's second Pool B match

In order to finish first in Pool A, Trentino had to battle Minas and the Italians had a solid performance to top the Brazilians in straight sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-18) and advance to the semifinals for the fourth time in their last four appearances – they won bronze last year, also in Betim.

The five-time world champions once again benefited from their balanced offence and saw outside hitter Daniele Lavia lead the way with 12 points (11 kills, one block), followed by opposite and team captain Matey Kaziyski and fellow outside hitter Alessandro Michieletto, who tallied ten each.

“Minas were a very difficult opponent and I think we played really well,” Michieletto, a 2022 world champion, told Volleyball World. “Advancing in first place in our pool was our first goal and I’m very happy that we did it. Sada Cruzeiro are a very good team and they typically play well at home, so we know it’s going to be very difficult against them in the semifinals. It’s going to be a battle and the key for us will be to play as we did in our first two matches.”

Minas vs. Trentino - Match Highlights

Minas, who rested most of their starters (most notably veterans William Arjona and Leandro Vissotto) for most of the match, got good production from 18-year-old outside hitter Arthur Bento, who left the court with 11 points (ten kills, one block), one point more than opposite Paulo Ferreira and two more than middle blocker Kelvi Souza.