The weekend’s matches in Italy’s SuperLega Credem Banca narrowed the teams threatened by relegation down to three after Top Volley Cisterna and Gioiella Prisma Taranto broke away to safety and eye the last remaining vacancy in the playoffs. Despite Japanese opposite Yuji Nishida's efforts, Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia lost to direct rivals Kioene Padova and are in difficulty ahead of the last leg of the regular season next weekend.
Vibo in dire straits despite Nishida’s valiant effort
Cisterna and Taranto now on solid ground
Published 09:00, 14 Mar 2022
Kioene, on the other hand, took an important step towards survival with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-22) comeback win over Tonno Callipo at home in Padova. With their internationals German opposite Linus Weber and Canadian outside Eric Loeppky leading the way in scoring, the hosts registered their ninth victory in 23 matches and moved up to 10th in the standings on 24 points, leaving their opponents from Vibo Valentia under the relegation cut-off, in 12th, on a 7-16 win-loss record and 22 points.
Weber delivered the match high of 24 points, registering an ace, a kill block and a 61% success rate in attack. Loeppky’s spikes resulted in points 63% of the time and he also chipped in with an ace and a kill block to earn the MVP nomination. While Japanese international Ran Takahashi was in the libero role handling 53% of the Tonno Callipo serves coming his way, his compatriot across the net, opposite Yuji Nishida produced three aces and 19 spiking points at a 54% success rate in attack, enough to top Vibo’s scorers’ chart, but not enough to lead the team to victory.
Next Sunday, Nishida and his teammates will do their best to remedy the situation in their home match against Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza, while Kioene Padova have a really difficult trip to Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena.
“This was a very tense game because there was a lot at stake. During the match we grew a lot, ball after ball, and we were able to sacrifice ourselves in the most difficult moments. These were three really important points towards salvation. Now we head to Modena where we will try to bring home something more.” Jan Zimmermann, setter of Kioene Padova
“It was a fundamental match for us. We knew it would be a real battle, but in the end it was the details that made the difference. We will not give up a centimetre until the last ball falls. Of course, now the defeat is hurting, but we have to reset immediately as we have an intense week of work to prepare for the match against Piacenza.” Marco Rizzo, libero of Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia
Squeezed in between Padova and Vibo in the standings, Verona Volley are the third team who still have to fight for salvation. On Saturday, they lost at home to Cucine Lube Civitanova to occupy the 11th place in the table on 9-14 and 24, behind Kioene on set ratio. They have another home fixture, against Vero Volley Monza on Sunday, to end the regular season. For both Verona and Padova, a point (i.e. two sets) would be enough to secure salvation, but both teams no longer have a shot at the playoffs.
Lube’s Italian opposite Ivan Zaytsev was on fire with five aces and 21 kills at a 58% success rate in attack to top the charts in his team’s 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18) victory over Verona. Cuban outside Marlon Yant added 17 points (two aces), while Argentinean setter Luciano De Cecco showed some great interaction with middle blockers Robertlandy Simon and Simone Anzani, each of whom had 80+ per cent success in offence. Bulgarian international outside Asparuh Asparuhov was Verona’s best scorer on 11 points.
Meanwhile, with a 27-point match high including five stuffs and two aces from Croatian opposite Petar Dirlic, Top Volley Cisterna claimed a 3-1 (20-25, 25-11, 25-21, 25-19) away victory over winless Consar RCM Ravenna to shoot up to the eighth place on 9-14 and 27 points. A home win over Itas Trentino on Sunday would put Cisterna among the quarterfinalists.
Otherwise, they will have to rely on Gioiella Prisma Taranto not winning at Allianz Milano in the last leg. After a stunning 3-1 (25-21, 25-23, 17-25, 25-19) upset of Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena, Taranto stand ninth on 8-15 and 26, holding a shot at the playoffs. Three players on 20 points each, Taranto’s Tommaso Stefani and Luigi Randazzo, and Modena’s Yoandy Leal, were the top scorers of the match, in the absence of Leo Shoes’ injured striker Nimir Abdel-Aziz.
There are two more question marks over the exact order of the teams heading into the playoffs.
In the weekend’s only five-setter, Trentino managed a 3-2 (28-30, 25-21, 25-20, 23-25, 15-9) home win over Allianz Milano to stay within reach of the league's runner-up position. They stand third on 17-6 and 53 points, one short of second-placed Lube, who also have a game in hand (a week from Wednesday at home against Milano). Italy’s rising star Alessandro Michieletto hammered four aces, five kills blocks and 18 successful hits towards the match high of 27 points. Experienced Bulgarian Matey Kaziyski played only in the first three sets, but that was long enough for him to contribute 21 points, including three aces. Yuri Romano was Allianz’s most prolific player on 25 points.
Also, seventh-placed Vero Volley Monza could still jump over Piacenza into the sixth place despite losing at home on Sunday to table leaders Sir Safety Conad Perugia by 3-1 (25-21, 30-32, 25-23, 25-22). Monza’s German star Gyorgy Grozer was the best scorer of the weekend, but his 29 points, including two aces and a block, were not enough to upset the powerful visitors, despite the absence of Wilfredo Leon, Sebastian Sole, Simone Giannelli and Matthew Anderson from their main line-up. Dutch international outside Thijs Ter Horst was Perugia’s top scorer on 26 points.
Perugia top the standings on 64 points and are sure to win the regular season. They are currently followed by Lube (54) and Trentino (53). Modena (48) and Milan (38) are certain to finish fourth and fifth, respectively. Piacenza are in sixth place on 34 points, three clear of Monza.