Middle blocker Sara Alberti celebrates a point in Scandicci's road win

Savino Del Bene Scandicci were again Igor Gorgonzola Novara’s nemesis in the Lega Pallavolo vivo Serie A1 Femminile as the team coached by Massimo Barbolini defeated their rivals for the second time of the season on Sunday.

Scandicci’s straight-set (25-17, 25-22, 25-23) road victory ended Novara’s 11-match winning streak in the Italian League, which started after the meeting between the two teams in the first leg of the season, back in December.

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Fresh from winning the CEV Challenge Cup title on Wednesday, Scandicci continued to play at a very high level in the Italian League and benefited from solid displays from four of their key players to defeat Novara, including setter Ofelia Malinov, who was the match’s MVP, Russian opposite Ekaterina Antropova, with 14 points (nine kills, four aces, one block), and outside hitters Natalia Pereira, with 11 (nine kills, two blocks), and Elena Pietrini, with ten (all in kills).

"We never found our rhythm and that was our main problem in the match," Novara's captain Cristina Chirichella said. "They created a lot of difficulties for us and even in the second and third sets, when we got to play better, we couldn't find a way to win. We'll watch the match and see where we can improve, but one thing for sure is being more aggressive."

The result, however, did not dislodge Novara from second place with 60 points (21 wins, three losses), tied with Vero Volley Monza, who have played 25 matches. Scandicci now have a four-point advantage over Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio at 54 points (19 wins, six losses) and are guaranteed to take fourth place ahead of the playoffs.

League leaders Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano greatly benefited from the result as the defending champions topped Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri 3-1 (25-21, 25-17, 15-25, 25-21) and now have a three-point lead over Novara after they reached 63 points (22 wins, three losses).

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Conegliano and Italy national team opposite Paola Egonu had a tremendous performance, with 30 points (28 kills, one block, one ace). Chieri’s top scorer was opposite Kaja Grobelna, who tallied 21 points (16 kills, three aces, two blocks).

Meanwhile, only two teams situated in the bottom half of the standings won their weekend matches in Italy and got to improve their situations in the race against relegation. VBC Trasporti Pesanti Casalmaggiore were one of them as the team are now tenth with 21 points (seven wins, 18 losses) after they defeated Busto 3-2 (26-24, 24-26, 18-25, 25-15, 17-15) on the road.

Casalmaggiore’s duo of Polina Rahimova and Yana Shcherban combined for 40 points, with the Azeri opposite producing 23 (21 kills, one block, one ace) and the Russian outside hitter adding 17 (15 kills, two blocks). Busto’s opposite Camilla Mingardi led all scorers with 27 (25 kills, two aces).

Delta Despar Trentino left the bottom spot and exchanged positions with Acqua & Sapone Roma Volley Club after they defeated their direct opponents 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-16) in dominant fashion. Opposite Vittoria Piani produced 17 of Trentino’s points in the match with 14 kills and three aces.

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Six teams will enter the final week of the Italian League regular season threatened by relegation: Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia (21 points), Casalmaggiore (21), Volley Bergamo (20), Bartoccini Fortinfissi Perugia (20), Trentino (19) and Roma (17).

Three of these teams will be on the court during the week for postponed matches with Roma and Vallefoglia meeting on Wednesday and Perugia facing second-placed Novara on Thursday. The final matchday of the regular season will be on Saturday, when seven matches will be played.