Itas Trentino players celebrate

Itas Trentino players celebrate

The lower ranked teams in Italy’s SuperLega Credem Banca semifinal playoffs delivered away upsets of their higher ranked opponents in their first matches this week and now have an unexpected opportunity to double their leads in their series as they host the second matches on Sunday and Monday, all available live on Volleyball TV.

Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena, who finished fourth in the regular season standings, shocked the number one team, Sir Safety Conad Perugia, with a 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 25-20) victory at the Pala Barton on Wednesday. They will now have the home court advantage for the second match on Sunday, April 17, at 18:00 local time at the PalaPanini in Modena and if they manage to convert it to another win, the stellar squad around Earvin Ngapeth, Nimir Abdel-Aziz and Yoandy Leal will get to within one match of emerging victorious from the best-of-five series.

On Wednesday in Perugia, Dutch opposite Abdel-Aziz hammered out the match high of 22 points, including two aces and a block, registering a 54% success rate in attack. His French teammate Ngapeth impressed with four aces and two kill blocks towards a 20-point tally and was honoured as the match MVP. Cuban-born Brazilian Leal also reached the double digits in scoring with 16 points to his name.

Top Scorer - Nimir Abdel-Aziz of PGA VS. MOD

Of course, big stars like Wilfredo Leon, Simone Gianelli, Sebastian Sole and their Perugia teammates will not make a tragedy out of their first match defeat. They certainly have what it takes to shrug off their opponents’ home advantage in the second match and level the series as they travel to Modena on the day Italy celebrates Easter. Cuban-born Polish outside Leon unveiled some of his potential on Wednesday, especially in serving as he fired five aces in the match. He added three blocks and 11 spikes towards a 19-point total. Argentinean middle blocker Sole had his way in 80% of his attack and raised four stuff blocks to finish with 12 points. Luxembourgish opposite Kamil Rychlicki was also in the double digits with 15 points.

“It was very important to start the series with a win. We played a good match as a team. We never gave up. We are two strong teams and the second match will be a different game of its own. We have to reset everything and go back to work in the gym, because another battle awaits us.” Nimir Abdel-Aziz, opposite of Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena
“Modena didn't allow us to play our usual sideout, which is an important weapon for us. We must immediately turn the page, work on our strengths and go to Modena with a positive mindset because the series is still long.” Mengozzi, middle blocker of Sir Safety Conad Perugia

In an encounter between the third and the second-placed teams of the regular season, Itas Trentino visited Cucine Lube Civitanova on Thursday evening and took an important advantage in the series with a 3-0 (28-26, 25-20, 25-23) shutout before welcoming their opponents to Trento’s BLM Group Arena on Monday at 18:00 for the second game.

Trentino’s most experienced stars set the example in this match. Bulgarian star Matey Kaziyski led the scorers on 16 points, including two stuffs and registering a 58% success rate in spiking, and earned the MVP nomination. Serbian middle blocker Marko Podrascanin was on fire in offence. He converted 89% of his attacks and added an ace and a kill block towards a 10-point total, while the team’s other Serbian middle, Srecko Lisinac led the blocking with three stuffs.

Top Scorer - Matey Kaziyski of CVA VS. TRE

With Cuban-born Italian star Osmany Juantorena sidelined because of a shoulder discomfort, Italian opposite Ivan Zaytsev was Lube’s best scorer on 15 points, followed by Cubans Robertlandy Simon with 13 (three aces, two blocks and 80% in attack) and Marlon Yant with 12.

Last year’s semifinal between these two teams also started with an away win for Trentino, but Lube bounced back to win the next three games, advance to the final and eventually celebrate with the title.

“It is never easy for anyone to play here. Probably the absence of Juantorena gave us a boost, because we did not know that Osmany was not going to play... It's a semifinal very similar to last season's one, but this time we need to be able to use the home factor. We must not repeat the same mistakes of the past if we want to win game two at home.” Marko Podrascanin, middle blocker of Itas Trentino
“We can do much better than that. At this stage, every match will be complicated. In Trento, Itas will play in front of their own fans. They will be charged, but we too must motivate ourselves to face the battle on Monday. Throughout my career I have lost and won many games. You have to go on after defeats like this. If you lose you have to understand the mistakes to do better in the next match, while if you win you have to improve even more.” Ricardo Lucarelli, outside hitter of Cucine Lube Civitanova
  • Watch all the matches in the top men's and women's leagues in Italy live or on demand on Volleyball TV.