Savino Del Bene players celebrate (source:

Savino Del Bene players celebrate

As many as four of the seven Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s 20th leg fixtures were resolved in five-set battles. At the highest level of the table, second-placed Savino Del Bene Scandicci widened the gap to third-placed Vero Volley Milan after 19-year-old Russian opposite Ekaterina Antropova led the team to a 3-2 (25-22, 26-28, 25-22, 21-25, 15-7) away victory in Monza on Sunday.

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Antropova produced 25 points, including four blocks and an ace, Chinese star Zhu Ting added another 19 points in attack towards the victory, while experienced setter Isabella Di Iulio masterfully conducted Savino’s offence to earn the Most Valuable Player award. Di Iulio did some scoring of her own, with one ace, one kill block and one successful spike to her name. Vero Volley’s American international Jordan Thompson was the best scorer of the match with 28 points.

The team from Scandicci improved to 50 points and a 16-4 win-loss record leaving the squad from Milan with 46 and 15-5.

“An important victory for many reasons!” Savino Del Bene’s coach Massimo Barbolini commented. “We fought in all five sets, playing point for point. The girls were very good at breaking away in the fifth set. Before the game we said to ourselves that to win these matches we needed to be a little more daring and we did so by serving well. With this victory, our positive streak continues and the success allows us to take an important advantage over a direct rival.”

Experimenting with their line-up a lot, defending champions and table leaders Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano ended up playing five sets at home against second-from-the-bottom Wash4Green Pinerolo. American outside Kathryn Plummer, who was among the starters in all five sets, contributed 22 points towards the 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12) win and claimed the MVP award. Swedish opposite Isabelle Haak added another 18, while middle Marina Lubian impressed with five kill blocks within a match tally of 15 points, including the game winner. Wash4Green’s opposite and captain Valentina Zago delivered the match high of 23 points.

Imoco improved to 19-1 and kept the distance of four points from Savino Del Bene, while the team from Pinerolo stand 13th on 11 points and 3-17.

Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore fought hard to put a stop to their losing streak in the league, but ended up suffering their fourth consecutive defeat as they visited Igor Gorgonzola Novara for the last match on Sunday’s programme. The home team came back from a set down to celebrate a 3-2 (25-17, 22-25, 14-25, 25-20, 15-10) victory after two losses in a row. Turkish star opposite and league’s leading scorer Ebrar Karakurt was on fire with a match high of 27 points, including three aces and four blocks. Cuban outside Kenia Carcaces aced four times towards a 23-point tally. Libero Eleonora Fersino registered 67% perfect reception and was named MVP of the match. Trasportipesanti’s Bulgarian opposite and captain Emiliya Dimitrova finished with 24 points, all in attack.

Igor stand fifth on 40 and 15-5, while their opponents from Casalmaggiore are in seventh place on 29 and 9-11.

“I'm sorry for the lost point. We had some difficulties, which luckily we overcame, reacting as a team in the last two sets. I think a game that had started like this could only be reversed with teamwork as a group.” Kenia Carcaces, outside hitter of Igor Gorgonzola Novara

In the weekend’s opening match on Saturday, Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia’s stellar squad unveiled its potential and delivered a 3-2 (25-21, 25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 15-13) upset of hosts Il Bisonte Florence, putting a stop to their opponents’ five-game winning streak. American opposite Andrea Drews spearheaded Megabox’s offence and hammered out 27 spiking points at a 52% success rate. She added a kill block to fix the match high at 28 points, earning the MVP award. Russian outside hitter and captain Tatyana Kosheleva added 25 points, while her cross-court teammate Sofia D’Odorico also reached the double digits with 18 points for the winners. On Il Bisonte’s side, opposite Sylvia Nwakalor made 22 points, including four blocks and an ace, while Belgian outside Britt Herbots added another 15.

Il Bisonte, on 27 points and a 9-11 win-loss record, and Megabox, on 22 and 8-12, kept their positions in the table, ninth and tenth place, respectively.

“This game has boosted our morale. The race for the playoffs is difficult, but we will continue to work and give our best. Perhaps there was no continuity in reception tonight.” Giulia Mancini, middle blocker of Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia

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In the remaining three matches of the leg, all played on Sunday, fourth-placed Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri claimed a 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-22) home victory over eighth-placed e-work Busto Arsizio, sixth-placed Volley Bergamo 1991 mastered a 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-21) shutout of 12th-placed Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia, and 11th-placed Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo managed to pull further away from the relegation zone after a 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-20) sweep of bottom-of-the-table CBF Balducci HR Macerata.

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s 21st leg schedule:

Mar 5, 17:00 local (16:00 UTC): Wash4Green Pinerolo v e-work Busto Arsizio

Mar 5, 17:00 local (16:00 UTC): Savino Del Bene Scandicci v Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri

Mar 5, 17:00 local (16:00 UTC): Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia v Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo

Mar 5, 17:00 local (16:00 UTC): CBF Balducci HR Macerata v Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore

Mar 5, 18:00 local (17:00 UTC): Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia v Volley Bergamo 1991

Mar 5, 20:30 local (19:30 UTC): Vero Volley Milano v Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano

Mar 6, 18:30 local (17:30 UTC): Il Bisonte Firenze v Igor Gorgonzola Novara