E-work Busto Arsizio’s Loveth Omoruyi in attack (source: legavolleyfemminile.it)

E-work Busto Arsizio’s Loveth Omoruyi in attack

The results of the Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile 24th leg matches provided some answers related to the final regular season standings in Italy. Most importantly, with two legs to go, defending champions and table leaders Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano secured the first place and pole position for the playoffs, Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore became the sixth team to book a spot in the quarterfinals, and CBF Balducci HR Macerata lost even the mathematical hopes for survival in A1 for next season.

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Canadian international Alexa Gray spearheaded Imoco’s offence on the way to a 3-0 (21-15, 25-20, 25-17) win at Il Bisonte Florence, helping her team get back on the winning track just three days after they were knocked out of Champions League contention. The outside hitter produced the match high of 17 points, including an ace and a block, and claimed the Most Valuable Player award. Her cross-court teammate, US international Kelsey Robinson, was the only other player to reach the double digits in the match. She registered а 63% success rate in attack and added three kill blocks towards a 13-point tally.

On a total of 66 points and a 23-1 win-loss record, the club from Conegliano are now out of reach, eight points clear on top of the table. Despite the loss, Il Bisonte remained the only team below the cut-off for the playoffs still with a shot at moving up among the top eight. They are ninth on 29 points, five below seventh-placed e-work Busto Arsizio and eighth-placed Volley Bergamo 1991.

“Very happy to have won first place in this manner, with a 3-0 victory! The last few days were not very easy for us, so we tried to restart on the right foot in view of the season finale.” Sarah Fahr, middle blocker of Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano
Imoco’s Alexa Gray on the serve (source: legavolleyfemminile.it)

Imoco’s Alexa Gray on the serve

However, Trasportipesanti are now out of Il Bisonte’s reach and safe for their spot in the quarterfinals despite their 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-21) loss in Busto Arsizio on Sunday. The team from Casalmaggiore stand sixth on 37 points, three points above e-work. 20-year-old outside Loveth Omoruyi came in as a substitution to help the home team turn the course of the match around with a fantastic 27 points, including four blocks and an ace, and earn the MVP nomination. The opposites of the two teams, Brazil’s Rosamaria Montibeller of e-work and Bulgaria’s Emiliya Dimitrova of Trasportipesanti, scored 17 points each.

“A very important victory for us against a very strong team that we managed to stop as the match progressed. We worked hard to prepare for this match and above all we played as a team: this was the key to success." Loveth Omoruyi, outside hitter of e-work Busto Arsizio

A five-set battle unfolded in the direct clash between the bottom two teams in the table. Wash4Green Pinerolo delighted the home crowd with a spectacular comeback from two sets down to celebrate a 3-2 (24-26, 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 15-12) success, which doomed their opponents CBF Balducci HR Macerata to relegation after just one season in Serie A1. The MVP award went to middle blocker Yasmina Akrari, who spiked at a success rate of 85% and scored three aces and three stuffs towards a 17-point match tally. Her teammate, 22-year-old Romanian outside Adelina Budai-Ungureanu, produced the match high of 23 points, including two aces and two blocks, while opposite and captain Valentina Zago added another 20 points towards the victory.

“It's a shame, because in the first two sets we got off to a flying start, but then we went down especially in attack,” said HR’s captain Alessia Fiesoli. “Congratulations to Pinerolo, who knew how to put us in difficulty, but I'm proud of my team, because we never gave up.”

However, Wash4Green themselves are far from safe. They are still within the red zone, but now trailing 12th-placed Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia by only a point. The latter also engaged in a five-set battle on Sunday evening, but lost at home to Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia, 3-2 (25-27, 25-21, 25-23, 17-25, 15-13), after nine kill blocks from Megabox’s middle Giulia Mancini.

The weekend opened on Saturday with Savino Del Bene Scandicci’s 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-13) victory at Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo with their Dominican libero Brenda Castillo emerging as the MVP of the match. Second-placed Savino Del Bene are just three points above Vero Volley Milan, who guaranteed themselves a spot among the top three at the end of the regular season with a 3-1 (17-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-21) win at Igor Gorgonzola Novara on Sunday. Their Polish Generation O star Magdalena Stysiak subbed in to hammer out a match-high 24 points and grab the MVP award. The team from Novara dropped to fifth place after their closest rival, Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri, achieved a 3-1 (29-27, 25-19, 21-25, 25-19) victory at Volley Bergamo 1991, keeping the home side’s place in the playoffs still under question. With her contribution to the team’s success, libero Ilaria Spirito was honoured as MVP of the match.

The penultimate 25th leg will take place next weekend, April 1 and 2.

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s 25th leg schedule:

Apr 1, 18:00 local (16:00 UTC): Vero Volley Milan v Il Bisonte Florence

Apr 1, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia v Igor Gorgonzola Novara

Apr 1, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo v e-work Busto Arsizio

Apr 1, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v CBF Balducci HR Macerata

Apr 2, 17:00 local (15:00 UTC): Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri v Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia

Apr 2, 17:00 local (15:00 UTC): Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore v Wash4Green Pinerolo

Apr 2, 19:30 local (17:30 UTC): Savino Del Bene Scandicci v Volley Bergamo 1991