Lega Pallavolo Serie A Femminile 2022 - News

Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v Vero Volley Milan (source: legavolleyfemminile.it)

Reigning club world champions and defending Italian champions Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano are ready to welcome last year’s silver medallists Vero Volley Milan for the first leg of the best-of-five championship series in Italy’s Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile on Saturday, starting at 20:45 local time (18:45 UTC). These two teams will go face to face for the final showdown for the second time in history after doing so in the 2022 final match-up last season.

  • Watch all Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 matches live or on demand on **VBTV**.

Imoco arrive at this final playoff as five-time national champions. They won the title first in 2016 and then every year since 2018, with the exception of 2020, when the season was prematurely interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. It will be their seventh overall championship series. The only time they played in the final and lost it was back in 2013, when they met Rebecchi Nordmeccanica Piacenza. This season, the club from Conegliano have already defended two of the trophies from last season, the Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia, and added another one, that from the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship in December. To reach the 2023 Serie A1 final, they lost only one of their 26 regular season matches, finishing with 72 points, nine clear on top of the standings, and then rolled over e-work Busto Arsizio in the quarterfinals and Igor Gorgonzola Novara in the semifinals, dropping only a set in the four playoff matches played.

Vero Volley, on the other hand, have never triumphed as Italian champions. They have been playing in the Italian top division since 2016 and, in fact, this is only the second time they have reached the final. Earlier this season, they also reached the national cup final for the first time in the club’s history. The team from Milan finished the regular season in third place, on a 20-6 win-loss record and 61 points. In both the quarterfinal and the semifinal best-of-three playoffs, they managed to overcome their opponents, Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore and regular season runners-up Savino Del Bene Scandicci, respectively, after third-match deciders, to arrive at another meeting with mighty Imoco.

For the short period since 2016, Imoco and Vero Volley have already met head to head 27 times in all competitions. The squad from Conegliano have won 24 of these encounters. The two most recent times Vero Volley managed to defeat the opponents occurred last year, once in the regular season and once in the first match of the final series, both at Imoco’s very same Pala Verde in Villorba, where the game this Saturday will be played. This season, the two rivals met three times. On November 20, Imoco claimed a 3-1 (25-14, 25-23, 20-25, 25-16) home victory with a 28-point match high from their Swedish star Isabelle Haak, and on March 5, they mastered a 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 25-23) shutout of the opponents in Milan with a 15-point match high from American outside Kathryn Plummer, in their two regular season fixtures. They also met in the Coppa Italia final on January 29 in Casalecchio di Reno, when Haak scored 23 times to lead her team to a 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-19) sweep and the trophy.

In addition to Haak and Plummer, coach Daniele Santarelli’s line-up features a number of top-level international stars like American outside Kelsey Robinson, Polish setter Joanna Wolosz and Italian libero Monica De Gennaro, to name a few, but Marco Gaspari’s squad on Vero Volley’s side will be no less impressive with the likes of USA’s legend Jordan Larson, her compatriot Jordan Thompson, Serbian middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic, Polish striker Magdalena Stysiak or Italian internationals Myriam Sylla and Alessia Orro

“We have once again reached the final, but this is not enough for us. We want to go all the way,” said Imoco’s captain Joanna Wolosz. “The emotions are always great and I personally never get used to the finals. My teammates and I are full of energy and ready to complete the hard work done this year. Milan were very good in the semifinals against a high-level opponent like Scandicci, showed great mental strength in the difficulties and deserved to reach this final. It will be a tough series, as it was last year, because they have shown that they never give up, they have character and, with Larson's return, they have found balance and a winning mentality. I think that in the end the strongest teams made it to the final and that there will be balance and entertainment starting from game one on Saturday. We can't wait to play in front of our home fans, who always create a crazy atmosphere at our Pala Verde.”

“I am very proud of the team because we played as one and we never gave up,” Vero Volley’s Jovana Stevanovic said after her team edged Savino Del Bene in the deciding semifinal on Wednesday. “Now we will have to have the same patience in the final against Conegliano. In this way everything is possible...”

Also on Saturday, at 19:00 local time (17:00 UTC), Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore will welcome Il Bisonte Florence in a direct duel for Italy’s spot in next season’s CEV Challenge Cup and what is practically equivalent to a fifth place in the season’s final Serie A1 standings. The home team made it to this match after losing their quarterfinal playoff and then winning round-robin Pool B, while the girls from Florence, who could not make it to the quarterfinals, went unbeaten through their Challenge Cup playoffs and then upset both of their Pool A opponents to reach Saturday’s deciding game in Cremona.

The final Serie A2 playoff for the second promotion ticket to next season’s top division also starts on Saturday. The best-of-three series will get underway with Itas Trentino Trento hosting Valsabbina Millenium Brescia at the BLM Group Arena at 20:00 local time (18:00 UTC).

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s Final Leg 1 schedule:
May 6, 20:45 local (18:45 UTC): Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v Vero Volley Milan

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s Challenge Cup Quota Final schedule:
May 6, 19:00 local (17:00 UTC): Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore v Il Bisonte Florence

Lega Pallavolo Serie A2 Femminile’s Promotion Final Leg 1 schedule:
May 6, 20:00 local (18:00 UTC): Itas Trentino Trento v Valsabbina Millenium Brescia