Lega Pallavolo Serie A Femminile 2022 - News

Ecstatic Ekaterina Antropova (source: legavolleyfemminile.it)

Ecstatic Ekaterina Antropova

Spearheaded by their 20-year-old rising star Ekaterina Antropova, Savino Del Bene Scandicci came back from a set down to gain a four-set home victory over Vero Volley Milan and edge forward in their Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile best-of-three semifinal playoff on Thursday. In the other semifinal series in Italy, defending champions Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano took the lead with a straight-set home win over Igor Gorgonzola Novara on Wednesday. Il Bisonte Florence and Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore, on the other hand, started the pool stage of the race for Italy’s CEV Challenge Cup quota with convincing wins.

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In four sets, Antropova hammered out as many as 30 points towards Savino Del Bene’s 3-1 (21-25, 25-12, 25-13, 25-23) victory over Vero Volley. The 2.02m-tall Russian opposite produced three aces and four kill blocks, while spiking at a 52% success rate, to earn the Most Valuable Player award. Her two outside hitter teammates, Elena Pietrini and Chinese star Zhu Ting, added 17 and 16 points, respectively. On the other side of the net, opposite Jordan Thompson of the United States led the scorers with 21 points to her name. The next game of the series is on Sunday in Monza.

“I was expecting a match like this,” said Savino Del Bene’s head coach Massimo Barbolini. “It was a very hard-fought match, even if there were two sets, in which we clearly prevailed, mainly thanks to the reception problems we created for Milan. We're now 1-0 up but the playoffs show that in a best-of-three series everything can change in three days. Now we have to stay focused, but my compliments go to the girls, because they played against a very strong team. We were good today, especially in the fourth set, when we were down by five points, but we managed to mend the result. We can play better and I think we will need it on Sunday, also because for them game two will be their last resort and therefore it will be a very difficult challenge.”

“We played the first set very well. We never gave up, suffering in some moments, but we came back with character and order in the moments that mattered,” Vero Volley’s libero Beatrice Parrocchiale. “In the two middle sets, on the other hand, we had those blackouts that are accompanying us a bit this season. Now we have to rest and think about game two. They played a great match. They pushed with their serves and were solid in attack with Pietrini and Antropova. We'll have to be able to stop them on Sunday.”

The semifinals started on Wednesday with Imoco’s clean, but hard-fought 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 26-24) home victory over Igor. Four Imoco players reached the double digits in scoring, with Swedish Generation O star Isabelle Haak leading the way with 15 points, followed by American outsides Kathryn Plummer with 13 and Kelsey Robinson with 12, and middle blocker Marina Lubian, who scored as many points as Igor’s Turkish Generation O star Ebrar Karakurt, 11. The winners’ libero Monica De Gennaro was named MVP of the match. Imoco could close this match-up and move on to the final, if they win again as the two teams meet on Saturday in Novara.

“We won 3-0, but I'm not satisfied at all. In such an important semifinal you can't play for a set and a half with intensity, explosiveness and great determination, and then get lost in trivial mistakes and inaccuracies in defence and attack that are not like us,” said Imoco’s head coach Daniele Santarelli. “In the second set we suffered Novara's comeback and closed it with great suffering. In the third (we don't even talk about it), we had a comfortable advantage and we got caught up with. We were able to recover only thanks to the final episodes. We can and must do much better! It's a semifinal! I'll talk to the team and, on Saturday, I want to see another Imoco on the court.”

“They immediately pressured us with their serving and put us in trouble. Failing to find our game and struggling to put the ball on the ground past their block-defence, we got nervous and it showed on the court, especially in the first half of the match,” commented Igor’s setter and captain Carlotta Cambi. “The regret is for not being able to bring home the third set and to extend the match, because we were growing after the negative start. This must make us return to the gym angry and determined to prepare better for game two. It will be necessary to raise the pace in serving and take away some security from them.”

On Thursday, Il Bisonte delivered a huge upset at the start of the pool phase in the race for the Challenge Cup vacancy. The team that finished the regular season in 10th place produced an emphatic 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-19) away victory over fourth-placed Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri in Pool A, with the face-to-face battle between the two Belgian captains Kaja Grobelna and Britt Herbots finishing in favour of Il Bisonte’s outside hitter, who claimed the MVP award. In the next game in that pool, the girls from Florence will visit e-work Busto Arsizio on Sunday.

In Pool B, on the other hand, favourites Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore lived up to the expectations at home and mastered a 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-19) shutout of Wash4Green Pinerolo, with Dutch middle Juliet Lohuis leading the scorers and earning the MVP nomination. On Saturday, Wash4Green will travel to Volley Bergamo 1991, the third member of this single round-robin pool.

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s Semifinals Leg 2 schedule:
Apr 29, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Igor Gorgonzola Novara v Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano
Apr 30, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Vero Volley Milan v Savino Del Bene Scandicci

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s Challenge Cup Pool Stage Leg 1 schedule:
Apr 29, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Volley Bergamo 1991 v Wash4Green Pinerolo
Apr 30, 18:00 local (16:00 UTC): e-work Busto Arsizio v Il Bisonte Florence