Sofya Kuznetsova and her Cuneo teammates celebrate (source: legavolleyfemminile.it)

Sofya Kuznetsova and her Cuneo teammates celebrate

The first half of Italy’s Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile regular season is now over with the 13th round of matches played on Monday. In the day’s only five-setter, Sofya Kuznetsova powered Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo to victory over Igor Gorgonzola Novara and helped secure a spot among the top eight in the standings and, hence, in the 2023 Coppa Italia Frecciarossa quarterfinals.

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The 23-year-old Russian outside produced the match high of 31 points towards Cuneo’s 3-2 (25-21, 25-27, 25-21, 17-25, 15-12) home win over Novara and earned the Most Valuable Player nomination. Kuznetsova’s tally included two blocks and an ace, as well as 28 spiking points at a 55% success rate in attack. Meanwhile, her cross-court teammate, Hungary’s Greta Szakmary impressed with four aces towards an individual total of 19 points, while libero Lara Caravello put on a fantastic performance in defence. On the other side of the net, 22-year-old Turkish star opposite Ebrar Karakurt’s effort resulted in 30 points, including four blocks and two aces. Her eight points in the tie-breaker alone, however, proved insufficient for team success in the match. International middle Anna Danesi stood out in blocking with seven stuffs

Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo v Igor Gorgonzola Novara 3-2 (25-21, 25-27, 25-21, 17-25, 15-12): match highlights

Cuneo’s sixth win in 13 matches helped them overtake e-work Busto Arsizio and Il Bisonte Firenze in the run for the coveted eighth place in the midseason standings. Novara are fourth on a 10-3 win-loss record and 28 points.

“It was a great game against a very strong team! We had some blackout moments like in the previous games, something we need to work on, but we always pushed. The fans cheered from the first to the last point and we hope to always see the hall like this.” Lara Caravello, libero of Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo

No surprising results emerged from the other six games on Monday, all won by the home teams too.

Recently crowned 2022 club world champions, defending Italian champions and current A1 leaders Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano marked their homecoming with a 3-0 (21-19, 25-21, 25-11) win over Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia, a 16-point match high from Swedish star opposite Isabelle Haak, and another 14 points, including four aces, from match MVP Kathryn Plummer of the United States. Imoco top the table on a 12-1 win-loss record and 35 points, while Perugia are twelfth on 2-11 and seven.

Second-placed Savino Del Bene Scandicci stayed within three points of Imoco by adding a 10th win to their record, a 3-1 (25-23, 25-15, 21-25, 25-21) victory over Il Bisonte Firenze, who dropped to 11th place on 4-9 and 14. American opposite Haleigh Washington contributed 15 points (2 blocks, 2 aces, 65% success rate in attack) to earn the MVP nomination, while Chinese outside Zhu Ting added another 18. Belgian scoring machine Britt Herbots stood out as the game’s most productive player with 31 points (2 blocks, 2 aces, 55% success rate in attack) for the team from Florence.

Savino Del Bene Scandicci v Il Bisonte Firenze 3-1 (25-23, 25-15, 21-25, 25-21): match highlights

With 11 wins in 13 matches, but a point below Scandicci, Vero Volley Milano stand third in the table. On Monday, they mastered a 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-18) shutout of e-work Busto Arsizio. 22-year-old Polish opposite Magdalena Stysiak excelled as the match top scorer with 23 points (2 aces, 3 blocks, 62% in attack) and claimed the MVP award. Brazilian opposite Rosamaria Montibeller was Busto Arsizio’s most prolific player with 12 points. Her team descended to ninth place on 5-8 and 15, just below the cut-off for Italy Cup.

Belgian opposite and captain Kaja Grobelna tallied the match high of 20 points (3 blocks, 1 ace) in Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri’s 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-15, 25-15) win over Wash4Green Pinerolo. Pinerolo’s scoring was led by their captain and opposite Valentina Zago with 14 points (2 blocks, 2 aces). Fifth-placed Chieri got to within a point from Novara, on a 9-4 win-loss record and 27 points, while Pinerolo failed to improve from their 13th place, where they stand on 2-11 and six points.

Right on her 31st birthday, Bulgarian opposite Emiliya Dimitrova captained Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-23) victory over Volley Bergamo 1991 with 25 points, including three blocks, and claimed the MVP award. That result allowed Casalmaggiore to overtake their opponents from Bergamo into the sixth place in the table. On 7-6 and 22 points, they are now two points above the opponents.

Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia improved to 5-18 and 15 points and moved up to 10th place after hammering out a 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-17) sweep of bottom-placed CBF Balducci HR Macerata. Their Russian outside hitter and captain Tatiana Kosheleva delivered a match-high 17 points (2 blocks, 63% in attack), while the MVP nomination went to American setter Micha Hancock, who put away six points (3 blocks, 1 ace, 100% in attack). Israeli opposite Polina Malik was Macerata’s leading scorer with 13 points. With 2-11 and six points, 14th-placed Macerata trail Pinerolo on set ratio.

The second half of the regular season will begin on Friday, January 6 with a game between Casalmaggiore and Chieri. Saturday’s programme features Busto Arsizio against Firenze, Bergamo against Conegliano, Macerata against Novara and Scandicci against Perugia. Pinerolo will welcome Milano and Cuneo will entertain Vallefoglia on Sunday, January 8.