Superlega 2023 - News.

A 2012 photo of Kaziyski and Juantorena as Trentino teammates during the FIVB Club World Championship

A 2012 photo of Kaziyski and Juantorena as Trentino teammates during the FIVB Club World Championship

What better way to get the new Italian SuperLega Credem Banca season started than with a stellar clash between Osmany Juantorena and Matey Kaziyski! Two of the greatest stars in the men’s club volleyball world and former teammates will make the official debuts for their new clubs in the head-to-head encounter between Valsa Group Modena and Allianz Milan on Sunday at 15:45 local time (13:45 UTC). The rest of the day’s programme includes the other five first-leg matches of the regular season.

  • Watch Italy’s SuperLega Credem Banca live and on demand on VBTV.

Valsa Group had a good regular season last year, finishing third on a 12-10 win-loss record, and won the first two games of their quarterfinal playoff against Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza, only to allow the opponent to win the next three and eliminate them from the race for the title. If anything made the club’s season successful, it was winning the CEV Cup.

While head coach Andrea Giani was replaced by Francesco Petrella, in terms of players, the club was left by French mega star Earvin Ngapeth as well as by the likes of Turkish striker Adis Lagumdzija and Belgian outside Tomas Rousseaux, among others. Cuban-born former Italian international Osmany Juantorena, who returned to Italy after a season abroad, is the most remarkable new addition to the roster. Brazilian star setter Bruno Rezende was the only foreigner, who stayed with the team. The new foreign additions are German middle blocker Anton Brehme, Russian opposite Maksim Sapozhkov and Belarusian outside hitter Uladzislau Davyskiba.

“I know the affection of the fans at the PalaPanini, where I have experienced many battles as an opponent. It's an honour and a pleasure to be here,” Juantorena said. “I'm at the coach's disposal to bring in my experience. The team is young and we know the difficulties of the championship, but we don't set ourselves any limits and we want to play a major role.”

Opposite to the club from Modena, the club from Milan had a mediocre regular season last year, catching the last train to the playoffs as the eighth-placed team on a 10-12 win-loss record, but then produced a major upset of undefeated regular season winners Sir Safety Susa Perugia in the quarterfinal playoffs to line up among the top four teams in the championship for the first time in the club’s history. In the best-of-five semifinal series, they took a 2-1 lead against Cucine Lube Civitanova, forcing the defending champions to come back from a back-against-the-wall situation. Allianz had also defeated Lube in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia to reach the semis of that important competition as well.

Between seasons, French opposite Jean Patry and Iranian outside Milad Ebadipour marked the main departures from the squad, but instead, head coach Roberto Piazza can rely on top-calibre newcomers like distinguished Bulgarian star Matey Kaziyski, 2023 national champion and MVP with Itas Trentino Trento, 20-year-old Belgian scoring machine Ferre Reggers and Croatia’s captain Petar Dirlic, who have joined a solid core with the likes of middles Agustin Loser and Matteo Piano of Italy, outsides Yuki Ishikawa of Japan and Osniel Mergarejo of Cuba, and talented young setter Paolo Porro of Italy.

“I am ready to take on the responsibilities that the coach and the club will give me,” said 39-year-old Kaziyski. “I signed a two-year contract, because I feel that physically I can keep up at this level another two years. I still feel young and smart and I want to be part of the present and future of Milan.”

The second game of the season will start 15 minutes later, at 16:00 (14:00), with Gioiella Prisma Taranto of Jeffrey Jendryk, Kyle Russell and Filippo Lanza hosting Rana Verona of Nikola Jovovic, Rok Mozic, Aleks Grozdanov and Amin Esmaeilnezhad.

Three matches will start at 18:00 (16:00). The stellar squad of defending champions Itas Trentino Trento will visit Cisterna Volley of Efe Bayram, Theo Faure and Jordi Ramon. The stars of 2023 runners-up Cucine Lube Civitanova will entertain Mint Vero Volley Monza, also lined up with top-level athletes like Ran Takahashi, Fernando Kreling, Stephen Maar, Eric Loeppky, Arthur Szwarc and Gianluca Galassi, among others. The impressive line-up of reigning Coppa Italia crown bearers Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza will also play at home, visited by Julius Zenger, Fabian Plak, Gabriel Garcia and the rest of their Pallavolo Padova Padua teammates.

In the late match, starting at 20:00 (18:00), the constellation of last year’s regular season winners and world and Supercoppa Italiana champions Sir Susa Vim Perugia will welcome rookies Farmitalia Catania to the SuperLega, trying to avoid any surprises from Luka Basic, Paul Buchegger and the rest of their teammates from Sicily.

SuperLega Credem Banca 2023-2024 1st leg schedule:
Oct 22, 15:45 local (13:45 UTC): Valsa Group Modena v Allianz Milan
Oct 22, 16:00 local (14:00 UTC): Gioiella Prisma Taranto v Rana Verona
Oct 22, 18:00 local (16:00 UTC): Cisterna Volley v Itas Trentino Trento
Oct 22, 18:00 local (16:00 UTC): Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza v Pallavolo Padova Padua
Oct 22, 18:00 local (16:00 UTC): Cucine Lube Civitanova v Mint Vero Volley Monza
Oct 22, 20:00 local (18:00 UTC): Sir Susa Vim Perugia v Farmitalia Catania