Il Bisonte’s Sylvia Nwakalor spikes against Bartoccini-Fortinfissi’s block of her sister Linda (#17) and Anastasia Guerra (source:

Il Bisonte’s Sylvia Nwakalor spikes against Bartoccini-Fortinfissi’s block of her sister Linda (#17) and Anastasia Guerra

Another six exciting matches in Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile await the fans this weekend in Italy, after the 22nd leg of the regular season already opened on Wednesday. One of the important aspects of this and the following four legs will be the race for survival in the top division for next season.

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With the bottom two teams at the end of the regular season facing relegation, anyone currently under ninth place is still under threat, at least mathematically. However, with one team (CBF Balducci HR Macerata) already seeming kind of doomed and another two (Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo and Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia) pretty far from imminent danger, the focus falls on how the race between the two squads just above and below the cut-off line will unfold.

The gap between 12th-placed Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia and 13th-placed Wash4Green Pinerolo is only two points, so any win for either of these teams from this weekend through the end of the regular season could prove crucial.

On Saturday, at 20:30 local time (19:30 UTC), Bartoccini-Fortinfissi face the difficult task against ninth-placed Il Bisonte Florence, for whom a straight-set win would mean rising back up to the zone for the playoffs. When they met in Florence in November, the squad from Perugia managed to take away only a set, but now they are playing at home, hoping to take revenge, put a stop to their negative streak of three consecutive defeats and improve on their 4-17 win-loss record and 13 points. Il Bisonte also need to recover from two consecutive losses. They are currently on 9-12 and 28 and a 3-0 victory in Perugia would put them above e-work Busto Arsizio in the standings on set ratio, after the latter already lost their game on Wednesday. Il Bisonte lead the head-to-head with five wins against Bartoccini-Fortinfissi’s two.

The match at the Pala Barton will be further spiced up by a face-to-face encounter between the talented Nwakalor siblings. 20-year-old middle blocker Linda is one of Bartoccini-Fortinfissi’s leading players. On the other side of the net, her 23-year-old sister, Italian international opposite Sylvia, is expected to spearhead Il Bisonte’s offence.

“From now to the end, these will all be matches quite important for our final goal, which is salvation.” Matteo Bertini, head coach of Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia

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Currently below the red line for survival on 3-18 and 11 points, Wash4green Pinerolo will travel to Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo for Sunday’s game at 17:00 local time (16:00 UTC). In 11th place on 8-13 and 23, mathematically Cuneo are still under some risk of relegation and still have a shot at the playoffs, but either seems quite unlikely, so they will be playing with less pressure. They can also approach the match with more confidence, after shutting out Wash4green in November’s game at Pinerolo and winning their last two games in the league, both away, 3-0 in Macerata and 3-2 in Perugia.

The team from Pinerolo, on the other hand, lost their last two matches, but can certainly draw some positives from winning two sets upon their visit to reigning club world champions, defending Italian champions and current table leaders Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano.

“We have to focus on the next matches and bring home as many points as possible because salvation is at hand and we strongly believe in it.” Federica Carletti, outside hitter of Wash4Green Pinerolo

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Despite being as many as six points below Bartoccini-Fortinfissi, bottom-of-the-table CBF Balducci HR Macerata have not completely given up hope for survival and will do their best to upset seventh-placed Volley Bergamo 1991, as they visit them on Sunday. The latter, however, are near the edge of the playoff zone and will certainly give their all to live up to their status of match favourites.

Another two teams that are currently within the red heat of the race for playoff spots will meet on Sunday as sixth-placed Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore (32, 10-11) host 10th-placed Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia (25, 9-12).

Two clashes between teams further up the table and mostly safe for their spots in the playoffs will take place on Saturday, when fifth-placed Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri (42, 14-7) welcome third-placed Vero Volley Milan (46, 15-6) and leaders Imoco (57, 20-1) entertain fourth-placed Igor Gorgonzola Novara (42, 16-5).

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s weekend schedule:

Mar 11, 19:45 local (18:45 UTC): Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri v Vero Volley Milan

Mar 11, 20:30 local (19:30 UTC): Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v Igor Gorgonzola Novara

Mar 11, 20:30 local (19:30 UTC): Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia v Il Bisonte Florence

Mar 12, 17:00 local (16:00 UTC): Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore v Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia

Mar 12, 17:00 local (16:00 UTC): Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo v Wash4Green Pinerolo

Mar 12, 17:00 local (16:00 UTC): Volley Bergamo 1991 v CBF Balducci HR Macerata