In a nail-biting five-set thriller, Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza emerged with a 3-2 (21-25, 29-31, 25-19, 25-20, 24-22) comeback victory over Itas Trentino Trento at home to tie their quarterfinal playoff series in Italy’s SuperLega Credem Banca at one win each and prompt a third-match decider next Sunday. In the mean time, Sir Safety Conad Perugia, Cucine Lube Civitanova and Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena closed their best-of-three quarterfinal series after the second games over the weekend to advance to the semis.
Russell-powered Piacenza stay alive in Italian quarterfinals
Modena, Lube and Perugia progress in the SuperLega playoffs
Published 08:27, 04 Apr 2022
Aaron Russell was the man of the match for Piacenza on Sunday. The American outside hitter earned the MVP nomination by contributing the match high of 33 points. He aced five times from the serving line and spiked another 28 points at a 64% success rate. After winning the first set, Trentino recovered from a 20-15 deficit in the second and then denied three Piacenza set points to win it deep into overtime and double their lead. In sets three and four, however, Piacenza bounced back from early Trentino leads to level the match and push it to a tie-breaker. At 8-4 Trentino’s way, it looked like the series would be soon over, but the home team caught up and later survived as many as seven opponent match points to finally close it off at 24-22 on two consecutive kill blocks for the win.
Piacenza’s Slovenian opposite Toncek Stern, who came in as a sub during set two and played on through the end, contributed 21 points to his team’s success. On the other side of the net, Bulgarian outside Matey Kaziyski topped the charts with 24 points, followed by Alessandro Michieletto with 18, including four aces and two blocks, and Serbian middle Srecko Lisinac with 15, including four blocks and an ace.
“There were many substitutions that made the difference. We deserve this victory. Our coach made an excellent choice to field two liberos to improve the reception that was missed last time. We are delighted with the result. Now let's focus on match three, which will be just as difficult.” Aaron Russell, outside hitter of Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza
The second match of the Allianz Milano against Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena quarterfinal series was also pushed to five sets, but in this case, it was the visitors from Modena who claimed the victory and booked their place in the semifinals. The squad around Brazilian playmaker and captain Bruno Rezende managed to come back from a set down twice in the game and then snatch the decider to celebrate a 3-2 (17-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 15-13) win.
Modena’s French star Earvin Ngapeth impressed with five kill blocks and two aces towards the match high of 23 points and the MVP nomination. He was tied on top of the scorers chart by his Brazilian teammate Yoandy Leal, whose tally included two aces, a block and a 61% success rate in attack. Milano’s American outside Thomas Jaeschke scored 21 points, including three blocks. His Japanese cross-court teammate added another 19, including three blocks and an ace.
“We were good at staying focused and patient. We knew that the match would be all a matter of the heads. Now we have 10 days to prepare for the semifinals and we want to be ready.” Dragan Stankovic, middle blocker of Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena
In the semifinals, Modena will lock horns with regular season winners Sir Safety Conad Perugia. Despite dropping a set to Top Volley Cisterna a week earlier, Perugia made sure there were no doubts left over their superiority and hammered out a 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-20) clean slate upon their trip to Cisterna di Latina on Sunday. Their Cuban-born Polish captain Wilfredo Leon led the team with 16 points, including two aces and a block. Luxembourgish opposite Kamil Rychlicki was named MVP after chipping in another 15 points, while his Croatian counterpart on Cisterna’s side, Petar Dirlic topped the match charts with 18.
“It was a well-deserved victory over an opponent who played well, as they did in game one too. They put pressure on us. We were very good at staying there and continuing to play our game. Making the semifinals in Italy is never easy or taken for granted and I am happy.” Simone Giannelli, setter of Sir Safety Conad Perugia
Although they yielded in the second set of their visit to Vero Volley Monza, defending champions Cucine Lube Civitanova did not allow any surprises in the final score of the match and won it by 3-1 (28-26, 19-25, 25-17, 25-23) on Saturday. Scoring 69% of his attacks, Lube’s Brazilian outside Ricardo Lucarelli added an ace and a stuff block to tally 22 points as the best scorer and MVP of the game. Opposite Ivan Zaytsev added another 18 points, including three aces, while Belarusian outside Uladzislau Davyskiba was Monza’s most prolific player with 21 points.
“Despite Grozer’s absence, Monza managed to find an important balance on the court, showing off a splendid performance. So I am very happy with our performance and the victory. Against quality teams, it is not easy at all. Now we have a few days to rest and then get back to work in the gym and head to the semifinal, which will certainly be a very difficult series.” Ricardo Lucarelli, outside hitter of Cucine Lube Civitanova
While Perugia, Lube and Modena can start preparations for the best-of-five semifinal playoffs, set to get underway on April 13, Trentino will entertain Piacenza in the deciding quarterfinal fixture on Sunday, April 10, at 18:30 local time. For Milano, Monza and Cisterna, the season is not over yet. They will continue in the battles for the fifth place of the final SuperLega standings, starting on April 17.