Isabelle Haak in action (source:

Isabelle Haak in action

In the top match of Italy’s Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile 23rd leg, Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano took home the three points from their trip to second-placed Savino Del Bene Scandicci and, with three legs to go, are now just two points away from securing the top spot in the final regular season standings. Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore are now also two points away from a safe spot in the playoffs, while Wash4Green Pinerolo and CBF Balducci HR Macerata, the two teams at the bottom of the table, won their matches to keep their hopes for survival in the top division alive.

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Imoco recovered from their heavy Champions League loss at Turkiye’s Fenerbahce Opet Istanbul during the week with a 3-1 (25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-20) victory at Savino Del Bene on Sunday. While Swedish star opposite Isabelle Haak produced the match high of 24 points, including three aces and a block, and American outside hitters Kathryn Plummer (13 points) and Kelsey Robinson (11) added another 24 combined, their Polish setter and captain Joanna Wolosz earned the Most Valuable Player award. She registered 100% in offence herself, scoring at all three attempts in attack, and added a serving ace to her tally. Russian opposite Ekaterina Antropova, who came in as a sub during the first two sets of the match and as a starter in the last two, led Savino’s scorers with 16 points, including two aces and a block. Chinese outside Zhu Ting added another 15 in attack.

The defending champions from Conegliano improved to 63 points and a 22-1 win-loss record, seven points clear of the squad from Scandicci, who are at 56 and 18-5.

“For the last hundred days we have lost two games and today we were defeated by a team that have lost two games for the last three hundred days,” commented Savino Del Bene’s head coach Massimo Barbolini. “We can certainly do better, but today we played against a very strong team. This match must serve us well, because we played a top-level game and this can only help us grow.”

The table trailers from Pinerolo and Macerata managed important home victories over teams near the edge of the cut-off line for the playoffs, which means they are both still well within reach of 12th-placed Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia, who lost 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-14) at Igor Gorgonzola Novara.

Wash4green hammered out an emphatic 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-20) shutout of seventh-placed Volley Bergamo 1991 with a 21-point match high from 22-year-old Romanian outside and match MVP Adelina Budai-Ungureanu, including two aces and three blocks, while CBF Balducci HR claimed a 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-16, 26-24) win over eighth-placed e-work Busto Arsizio with 22-year-old American outside Claire Chaussee firing 27 points in attack and earning the MVP award.

“It's the first time we've won 3-0 at home and it's a mix of very strong emotions. I had a very difficult start to the season, but I am happy now that I can help the team. Salvation is no longer just a dream, but it can really be achieved. As long as we stand, we fight. This is volleyball and I can't wait for the next matches.” Adelina Budai-Ungureanu, outside hitter of Wash4Green Pinerolo
“I'm really very happy and exhilarated by this victory! After so many defeats in the second part of the season, tonight we pushed throughout the match and this allowed us to get back to success and get a result that still keeps us in the game.” Claire Chaussee, outside hitter of CBF Balducci HR Macerata

Bartoccini-Fortinfissi (16 points, 5-18 win-loss record), Wash4green (14, 4-19) and CBF Balducci HR (10, 3-20) are the three teams still under threat of relegation and only one of them will survive in the top league for the next season.

In what could prove a key result in the battles for the remaining playoff vacancies, Trasportipesanti squeezed out a narrow 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 25-21, 19-25, 17-15) home victory over Il Bisonte Florence on Saturday with 17 points from Bulgarian opposite and captain Emiliya Dimitrova and another 15 from middle blocker and match MVP Laura Melandri. Il Bisonte’s opposite Sylvia Nwakalor hammered out the match high of 26 points.

The team from Casalmaggiore are in sixth place on 37 and 12-11 and need just two points in the remaining three matches to progress to the playoffs. Seventh-placed Bergamo are on 34 and 11-12, while eighth-placed e-work Busto Arsizio have 31 and 10-13. Il Bisonte remain below the cut-off, in ninth place on 29 and 9-14, followed by Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo on 26 and 9-14 and Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia on 25 and 9-14. Any of these five teams can vie for the three quarterfinals berths still available.

On Saturday, Megabox lost at home to fifth-placed Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri, 3-1 (15-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-21), while Cuneo suffered at Vero Volley Milan, 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-15).

The 24th leg will take place next weekend, March 25 and 26.

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s 24th leg schedule:

Mar 25, 20:30 local (19:30 UTC): Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo v Savino Del Bene Scandicci

Mar 26, 17:00 local (15:00 UTC): Il Bisonte Florence v Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano

Mar 26, 17:00 local (15:00 UTC): Igor Gorgonzola Novara v Vero Volley Milan

Mar 26, 17:00 local (15:00 UTC): Volley Bergamo 1991 v Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri

Mar 26, 17:00 local (15:00 UTC): Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia v Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia

Mar 26, 17:00 local (15:00 UTC): e-work Busto Arsizio v Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore

Mar 26, 19:30 local (17:30 UTC): Wash4Green Pinerolo v CBF Balducci HR Macerata