Lega Volley Femminile A1 2023 - News.

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The third-best scorer of the Italian League, Imoco's Haak will face leader Akimova of Novara (Photo: LVF)

The tenth round of the 2023-2024 Lega Pallavolo Femminile Serie A Tigotà will save the best for last as the top two teams in the Italian League, Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano and Igor Gorgonzola Novara, will battle in the final match of the weekend.

Second-placed Novara (24 points – eight wins, one loss) will host defending champions and League leaders Imoco (27 points – nine wins) at the Pala Igor on Sunday, at 19:30 local time (18:30 GMT), in what is considered by many as the most exciting match of the season so far.

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Novara occupied the top spot in the Italian League standings until two weeks ago, when they had their first setback of the season, against Allianz Vero Volley Milano, and saw Imoco pass them to take the lead. The team from Northern Italy can return to first place this weekend, but in order to do that, they will need to sweep their rivals, something they haven’t done since 2018.

Novara, who enter the match on a high after a mid-week five-set road victory over Greece’s Olympiacos in the CEV Challenge Cup, will count on the great form of 21-year-old opposite Vita Akimova to overcome Imoco. She’s the Italian League’s top scorer with 213 points (184 kills, 16 aces, 13 blocks) and has produced 20 or more points in each of her nine matches in the team’s campaign, including a season-high 31 against Il Bisonte Firenze last weekend.

A former Imoco player, middle blocker Anna Danesi has also been a factor in Novara’s strong campaign. The 27-year-old Italian international ranks third in blocks in the Italian League with 25 and was also on fire last week against Firenze, tallying a season-high 17 points.

The only undefeated team in the Italian League, Imoco also enter this weekend's derby in good form after topping Poland’s Rzeszów on the road in the CEV Champions League on Wednesday to secure their 13th win in the 2023-2024 club season.

“We lost several players due to the flu over the last weeks and they’re finally recovering now,” Imoco’s head coach Daniele Santarelli reflected. “We’ll have a lot of challenges until the Italian League break on December 26 and we want to start the month well. Historically, the matches against Novara are always tough and I think this one will be played at a very high level too. They have great depth and are very physical offensively and we need to be ready for a battle that will require a lot of intensity and concentration from our side.”

Ranked third in the Italian League’s scoring charts with 167 points (139 kills, 16 aces, 12 blocks), Swedish star opposite Isabelle Haak will lead the team’s offense in this weekend’s big match. The 24-year-old Swede is coming from a 15-point performance against Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore last week.

Imoco have been highly successful in their duels against Novara, having prevailed in 33 of the 43 encounters registered. Novara’s last victory happened in March 2022 and that was their only triumph in the last 20 duels.

Other matches

Third-placed Milano (23 points – eight wins, one loss) will be looking to take advantage of the duel between the two sides that sit above them in the standings to try and catch Novara or at least come closer to the top. They will play at home against Casalmaggiore on Sunday, at 17:00 local time (16:00 GMT).

The weekend round will begin on Saturday, at 21:00 local time (20:00 GMT), with the match between Wash4Green Pinerolo and Savino Del Bene Scandicci, who are fourth (21 points – seven wins, two losses) and could also gain ground on the leaders.

Four other matches will be played on Sunday at 17:00 local time (16:00 GMT) – Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri vs. Uyba Volley Busto Arsizio, Volley Bergamo 1991 vs. Itas Trentino, Megabox Ondulati Savio Vallefoglia vs. Firenze and Roma Volley Club vs. Honda Olivero S. Bernardo Cuneo.

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Lega Pallavolo Femminile Serie A1 Tigotà
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