Lega Pallavolo Serie A Femminile 2022 - News

Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v Igor Gorgozola Novara (source: legavolleyfemminile.it)

Saturday is the day, when one of the brightest stars of today’s women’s volleyball world, the Most Valuable Player of the last two FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championships, Swedish opposite Isabelle Haak, may qualify for her first-ever Italian Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile final. Her current team Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano lead their best-of-three semifinal series by one win and travel to Igor Gorgonzola Novara for the second match. Haak’s previous Italian team, Savino Del Bene Scandicci, may also book their first-ever ticket to the final, if they win their semifinal match at Vero Volley Milan on Sunday. The weekend’s programme in the southern European country also includes the second leg of the pool stage in the race for the country’s CEV Challenge Cup quota.

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23-year-old Haak is one of the brightest members of the Generation O of female opposites born in the last years of the 20th century and charismatically dominating the world of volleyball now. She has already earned plenty of top-level accolades in her career so far, but she has never played in an Italian league final. In her previous two seasons in Italy, as a player of Savino Del Bene, she reached the semifinals twice. In 2018, they were eliminated by her current team Imoco and, in 2019, by her current semifinal opponent, Igor Gorgonzola.

As Imoco and Igor meet in Novara on Saturday at 20:30 local time (18:30 UTC), one of the players trying to stop Haak from reaching another important milestone will be another Generation O member, Turkish star opposite Ebrar Karakurt. The 23-year-old striker is in her second season in Serie A1 and also aiming at her first final, after her squad were stopped by Vero Volley in the semifinals last year.

Imoco mastered a hard-fought 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 26-24) home victory in the first match of the series, with Haak and Karakurt leading their teams’ scoring with 15 and 11 points, respectively. However, Saturday’s second clash will be at Pala Igor Gorgonzola with the home fans doing their best to push Karakaurt and her teammates to a third-game decider.

“Our goal is to bring the series back to parity, return to play in Treviso, and not end our season like this,” said Igor’s middle blocker and captain Cristina Chirichella. “We have to keep battling at the highest level possible, in order to prevent them from playing smoothly. We know that we will be able to count on a very hot full house and we will do everything to turn even the thrust from the audience into a strong point.”

“We are preparing for another battle with an opponent that we now know well. In their house, the music will be different. We know that they are a team with great qualities and at the PalaIgor, which will be full, they will want to do everything to put a spoke in our wheels and bring the series to game three,” said Imoco’s head coach Daniele Santarelli. “We have to be clear about what needs to be done. The first match was a lesson, because I'm satisfied with the result, but not with my team's progress in the match. It will take a much more continuous and orderly performance from start to finish if we want to bring home the result and qualify for the final. It will take our best version, and not for one set, but for the whole game.”

Savino Del Bene Scandicci are also on the verge of a historic achievement, one win away from their first A1 final. On Thursday, they edged forward in their semifinal series with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-12, 25-13, 25-23) home victory over Vero Volley and, on Sunday, they will try to close the series as they visit the opponents at 20:30 local time (18:30 UTC) in Monza. But for Chinese star Zhu Ting, Russian prodigy Ekaterina Antropova and their teammates it will be a very difficult task, especially with the likes of American standouts Jordan Larson and Jordan Thompson and the home crowd working against them, targeting a second consecutive A1 final for their club.

“If we had won game one, our approach to game two would have been the same. We are in the playoffs and every match is different,” said Vero Volley’s head coach Marco Gaspari. “However, we must draw lessons from the first confrontation with Scandicci, in which we played two games in one. A solid and determined approach in the first set gave way to a subdued one in the second and third. Against a strong team like Scandicci you need to be patient. If we want to win, we have to do something more in attack. We have to take into account some errors in reception, but also be good at rebuilding, given that we had our say in the fourth set. The focus is on thinking one ball at a time and taking the series to game three.”

Volley Bergamo 1991, who were eliminated by Savino Del Bene in the quarterfinals, will start their campaign for a spot in next season’s European Challenge Cup competition with a home game against Wash4Green Pinerolo on Saturday at 20:30 local time (18:30 UTC). The visitors lost the opening Pool B match to Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore in straight sets and another mistake would mean the end of the season for them.

In the other three-team pool, Il Bisonte Florence have a shot at securing their place in the deciding match on May 7. After upsetting Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri in the first Pool A match, Ofelia Malinov and her teammates will try to secure the top of the pool standings by delivering another upset as they visit e-work Busto Arsizio on Sunday at 18:00 local (16:00 UTC).

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s Semifinals Leg 2 schedule:
Apr 29, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Igor Gorgonzola Novara v Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano
Apr 30, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Vero Volley Milan v Savino Del Bene Scandicci

Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile’s Challenge Cup Pool Stage Leg 1 schedule:
Apr 29, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Volley Bergamo 1991 v Wash4Green Pinerolo
Apr 30, 18:00 local (16:00 UTC): e-work Busto Arsizio v Il Bisonte Florence