Yant was Lube's top scorer against Cisterna with 17 points

Defending SuperLega Credem Banca champions Cucine Lube Civitanova took some pressure off themselves on Sunday as the team put an end to a four-match winless streak and celebrated their first Italian League victory in 2023.

The team coached by Gianlorenzo Blengini had a difficult start against Top Volley Cisterna, but fed from the energy of their fans to mount a strong comeback and secure a 3-1 (20-25, 25-18, 25-23, 27-25) victory.

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Lube’s tenth win in the season has kept the team in fourth place in the standings, but the three points earned in the match pushed the defending champions up to 30, creating a seven-point separation from Cisterna, who are the first team outside the playoff zone, with 23 points (seven wins).

“We had a difficult start, but managed to make some changes in the second set that set us up for a better performance,” Blengini commented. “But what matters is that we got the win we needed so much. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but the team fought a lot for it. It was an important victory against a team that’s fighting to make it to the playoffs, and I hope we can build from it.”

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Lube’s strong serving was the team’s main weapon against Cisterna as the winners fired nine aces against two from their opponents. Five of them were produced by Bulgarian outside hitter Aleksandar Nikolov, who was the team’s second best scorer with 16 points, one less than fellow outside hitter Marlon Yant.

“I am very happy that we managed to win this match,” Nikolov said. “We approached the match as if it was a final, especially because we played in front of our fans. We really needed these three points. If we serve well, we can beat any team.”

The match’s top scorer was Cisterna’s Croatian opposite Petar Dirlic, who leads the Italian League in points with 356. Against Lube, he tallied 20 (18 kills, two blocks).

The three teams that sit above Lube in the standings also won over the weekend. On Saturday, league leaders Sir Safety Susa Perugia were challenged by Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza, but secured a 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-17) victory and remain undefeated with 18 wins (54 points).

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Ukrainian outside hitter Oleh Plotnytski and Luxembourg’s opposite Kamil Rychlicki led Perugia’s offense with 16 and 15 points, respectively. With 15 points, Cuban middle blocker Robertlandy Simon was Piacenza’s top scorer.

Second-placed Trentino Itas, who have 35 points (11 wins), were on the road and topped Gioiella Prisma Taranto in straight sets (26-24, 28-26, 25-22). Team captain and opposite Matey Kaziyski was the match’s top scorer with 20 points, all earned in kills.

Valsa Group Modena, who rank third in the standings with the same 35 points and 11 wins, dominated Emma Villas Aubay Sienna in four sets (34-32, 25-12, 20-25, 28-26). Turkish opposite Adis Lagumdzija, with 20 points, and Italian outside hitter Tommaso Rinaldi, with 17, were the team’s most effective players.