Piacenza 2603

French star setter Antoine Brizzard led Piacenza to a key win in the quarterfinals

The quarterfinals of the 2022-2023 SuperLega Credem Banca will continue for at least another week as the exciting third-leg matches of the best-of-five series that open the playoffs didn’t bring any of the four duels to an end over the weekend.

Defending champions Cucine Lube Civitanova and reigning Coppa Italia winners Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza, who both entered the weekend threatened by elimination, defeated WithU Verona and Valsa Group Modena and managed to extend their series. Sir Safety Perugia and Itas Trentino, on the other hand, triumphed over Allianz Milano and Vero Volley Monza in front of their fans and are one step closer to the semifinals.

· Watch all SuperLega Credem Banca matches live or on demand on VBTV.

Piacenza had arguably the biggest win of the weekend as, besides trailing 0-2 in their series against Modena and facing a serious risk of elimination, they also went on the road for leg three on Sunday. The Coppa Italia champions responded strongly, topping the hosts in straight sets (25-21, 25-22, 25-23) and handing them their first sweep in front of their fans.

Brazilian star outside hitter Yoandy Leal was Piacenza’s main scoring option in the match, leaving the court with 15 points (14 kills, one ace). Edoardo Caneschi and Robertlandy Simon were also solid in the middle for Piacenza, with the Italian tallying 11 points (seven kills, four blocks) and the Cuban producing ten (three kills, six blocks, one ace).

“Hard work always pays off and we worked a lot these last few days,” Simon commented. “Everything can change at any moment in this series and we saw it today as we played very well and won as a team. We came to Modena hoping to get the win and will now return home next weekend still behind, but anything can happen. We’ll just keep working and avoid thinking about anything else.”

Piacenza also did well in containing the damage generated by Modena’s offensive stars Earvin Ngapeth and Adis Lagumdzija. After combining for more than 40 points in the first two encounters, they produced only 25 on Sunday, with the French outside hitter delivering 14 (12 kills, two aces) and the Turkish opposite adding another 11 (ten kills, one block).

Lube 2603

Nikolov delivered under pressure and helped Lube extend their series against Verona

Lube also scored a big win and avoided elimination, getting the first victory in their series against Verona. The defending champions still trail 1-2, but certainly got a confidence booster with their straight-set (25-17, 25-22, 28-26) triumph in front of their fans.

Bulgarian rising star Aleksandar Nikolov has huge for Lube as the 19-year-old outside hitter led the team’s scoring efforts with 25 points (21 kills, four aces). Cuban outside hitter Marlon Yant was also a big part of Lube’s triumph as he added 15 points (eight kills, three blocks, four aces) and scored the game-winning point with a spectacular ace that touched the corner of Verona’s court.

“I think we did a very good job of keeping our emotions outside the court and only focusing on the match,” Nikolov commented. “We’re very happy that, despite the struggles we had, we were still able to win in three sets. I don’t think we changed anything. We had our backs against the wall and responded to it in the way we wanted. We’re going to keep fighting next week in Verona.”

Verona’s ‘Big Three’ of Noumory Keita, Maksim Sapozhkov and Rok Možič also had a solid match, with the Malian outside hitter scoring 15 points (13 kills, two aces), the Russian opposite adding 14 (12 kills, two blocks) and the Slovenian outside hitter contributing ten (nine kills, one ace).

Regular season winners Perugia reacted well to their first Italian League defeat in the season, getting back on track with a 3-1 (22-25, 30-28, 25-18, 25-20) win over Milano at home. The reigning world champions will now have a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth round of the series next weekend.

Luxembourg’s opposite Kamil Rychlicki, with 20 points (18 kills, two blocks), and Ukrainian outside hitter Oleh Plotnytskyi, with 18 (14 kills, two blocks, two aces), carried Perugia’s offence in the third match of the series.

“It was a very difficult match,” Plotnytskyi reacted. “Milano have a lot of quality and know how to play the game. I felt that we stuck together in the second set and won some important points that changed the match in our favor.”

Perugia 2603

Rychlicki and Plotnytskyi both had big roles in Perugia's offence against Milano

Japanese star outside hitter Yuki Ishikawa was Milano’s most effective player with 17 points (15 kills, two blocks), followed by French Olympic champion opposite Jean Patry, who registered 12 (all in kills).

On Saturday, 2022 FIVB Men’s Club World Championship silver medallists Trentino regained control of their series against Monza by coming from behind to top their rivals 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-19) victory in front of their home fans.

Trentino had several key players returning to their starting lineup and were much stronger than in Wednesday’s loss. One of them, star outside hitter Alessandro Michieletto, was the team’s second-best scorer with 19 points (17 kills, one block, one ace), only behind opposite Matey Kaziyski, who left the court with 21 (13 kills, three blocks, five aces).

“This match was a big test for our team,” Kaziyski reflected. “We were in a good night technically and tactically, but didn’t know how the team would react from a physical standpoint with several players returning. Coming back to win the match after we lost the first set wasn’t easy, but we need to prepare for another tough match in Monza.”

Monza couldn’t win, but had good production from their two outside hitters, with Uladzislau Davyskiba tallying 19 points (14 kills, one block, four aces) and Stephen Maar producing 14 (12 kills, one block, one ace).

The fourth leg matches of the series that remain open will be played next weekend, with dates and times still to be confirmed.