Super Lega 2022 - News

Milano 1004

Milano players celebrate their road win over Perugia that pushed them to the semifinals

The quarterfinal round of the 2022-2023 SuperLega Credem Banca ended in spectacular fashion on Monday, with Allianz Milano knocking reigning world champions Sir Safety Perugia out and Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza and Cucine Lube Civitanova both completing fantastic comebacks to advance to the Italian League Final Four.

The best-of-five semifinal series in Italy will begin on Thursday and will have Milano facing defending champions Lube and Coppa Italia winners Piacenza going against 2022 FIVB Men’s Club World Championship silver medallists Itas Trentino, who had ended their series last week.

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The last team to book a spot in the quarterfinals, Milano finished eighth in the SuperLega regular season and had a formidable challenge ahead of them in Perugia, who went undefeated in their 22 regular season matches.

The team from Northern Italy proved they would be a tough opponent throughout the series, beating Perugia in the tie-breaker twice at home, but had arguably their best performance in the season on Monday, when they dethroned the reigning world champions with a come-from-behind, 3-1 (18-25, 25-21, 29-27, 25-23) win on the road and will be among the country's top four teams for the first time.

Japanese star Yuki Ishikawa was on fire, leading Milano to victory with a team-high 18 points (15 kills, three aces). The 27-year-old outside hitter also scored the game-winning point, flying from the backcourt to beat Perugia’s blocking and defence.

“It was incredible, what a fantastic match,” Ishikawa commented. “Except for the first set, we played very well. There were a lot of nerves as the last two sets were really close, but we won, and we're very happy about it. Making it to the semifinals was our main goal for the season. This is my third season with Milano and on the first we won the CEV Challenge Cup and on the second we competed in the Coppa Italia semifinals. I'm glad to be writing history here.”

Besides him, Milano also got strong contributions from fellow outside hitter Osniel Melgarejo, who fired 14 points (11 kills, one ace, two blocks), and opposite Jean Patry and middle blocker Agustin Loser, who added ten each.

Perugia’s Cuban opposite Jaime Herrera left the court with a match-high 20 points (16 kills, one ace, three blocks), five more than Polish outside hitter Kamil Semeniuk, but their efforts weren’t enough to make their team advance.

Coppa Italia champions Piacenza had an equally dramatic qualification, as after being down 2-0 in their series against Valsa Group Modena and then in the fifth and decisive match, they found the strength to turn things around and take a third consecutive win on Monday, downing their opponents 3-2 (19-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-12) on the road. It’s the first time the team makes it to the semifinals in the Italian League.

Brazilian star outside hitter Ricardo Lucarelli was Piacenza’s main offensive player in the match, producing 19 points (18 kills, one ace) for the winners. Middle blocker Robertlandy Simón (13), opposite Yuri Romanò (12) and outside hitter Yoandy Leal (11) all reached double digits in scoring as well.

“The character of our players was crucial tonight,” head coach Massimo Botti remarked. “It's not an easy feat to beat Modena three times and we did it, that's an amazing accomplishment. I felt that we were too nervous in the first two sets and that we made too many mistakes because of that. When we relaxed a little bit, we played our game.”

For Modena, Adis Lagumdzija and Earvin Ngapeth emerged as the team’s main scorers once again, with the Turkish opposite registering 19 points (17 kills, two aces) and the French outside hitter adding another 18 (15 kills, three aces).

Like Piacenza, defending champions Lube also completed a fantastic comeback against WithU Verona, winning the series between the teams 3-2 after being down 2-0. The team from Civitanova Marche used a sold-out Eurosuole Forum to its favor, and downed Verona 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-23) on Saturday to advance to the semifinals for a seventh-straight season.

Guided by veteran setter Luciano De Cecco, young outside hitters Aleksandar Nikolov and Marlon Yant led Lube’s offence in the most important match of the season, with each of them tallying 15 points. The 19-year-old Bulgarian had 14 kills and one ace, while the 21-year-old Cuban produced 13 kills, one ace and one block.

“When we were down 2-0, we knew we’d need a lot more to beat a strong Verona team that played very well in the quarterfinals,” De Cecco reflected. “We learned some important lessons in our defeats, but at the same time remained calm to handle the situation. We hope we can keep this same mentality in the semifinals. We also need to thank our fans, who supported us tremendously and created a fantastic atmosphere.”

Match five’s top scorer was Verona’s Malian outside hitter Noumory Keita, who tallied 17 points (15 kills, two blocks), three more than Russian opposite Maksim Sapozhkov, who had 13 kills and one block.