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Vero Volley players rejoice (source:

Vero Volley players rejoice

In a memorable night at the ilT quotidiano Arena in Trento, Mint Vero Volley Monza emerged from the winning end of an extended tie-breaker to celebrate a new page in the club’s history, its first qualification for the Italian men’s volleyball championship final. They finished a dramatic SuperLega Credem Banca five-match semifinal series with a spectacular nail-biting setter, in which Japanese outside hitter Ran Takahashi put away the winner for the visitors from Monza to dethrone the heavy favourites for the title, Itas Trentino Trento, at their own ground.

Meanwhile, Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza and Rana Verona secured the first two spots in the semifinals of the fifth-place playoffs.

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

Vero Volley started their match in Trento on Sunday evening really strong and stunned the opponents by cruising to a 2-0 lead. The defending champions, however, refused to give up just yet and levelled the score after winning sets three and four by the narrowest of margins. Then it was time for a nerve-wracking tie-breaker, in which the gap never exceeded two points. Pushing it into overtime, Vero Volley finally managed to convert their third match point, with Takahashi spiking successfully to shape up a 3-2 (25-18, 25-22, 23-25, 24-26, 17-15) victory. This way, the team from Monza achieved a complete turnaround in the series, after Trentino opened a solid lead by winning the first two matches, and advanced to the championship final for the first time in history, to take on reigning club world champions Sir Susa Vim Perugia for the national title.

Vero Volley’s Canadian stars, outside Stephen Maar and opposite Eric Loeppky, led the team with 23 points apiece. Ran Takahashi finished with 19, and having scored some crucial points in important moments, he earned the Most Valuable Player award. Middle blocker Gianluca Gallasi also reached the double digits with 14 points. Trentino’s Luxembourgish opposite Kamil Rychlicki was the best scorer of the match with an impressive 31 points, supported by outsides Alessandro Michieletto and Daniele Lavia with 17 and 15 points, respectively, while Slovenian middle blocker Jan Kozamernik raised a solid seven kill blocks to finish with 13 points.

“It was truly a beautiful journey, which began in October, when we quickly realized that we had the chance to have a great season. Maybe we didn't imagine we'd get this far, but we were aware that we had the tools to compete against everyone,” commented Vero Volley’s head coach Massimo Eccheli. “After the playoff against (Cucine Lube) Civitanova, we were sure we could play to the fullest. Maar's return allowed us to play with three spikers, which gave us more confidence, allowing us to prevail in three sporting battles. The boys always won and lost in the same way, fighting without giving up and always forcing the opponent to give their all.”

“We absolutely must congratulate Monza. They played a very intense series, working to the limit of perfection between blocking and defence, fundamentals that put us in particular difficulty,” said Trentino’s head coach Fabio Soli. “Tonight the team gave everything and I only have to blame my players for having made these forty-five days without (Riccardo) Sbertoli like a normal period, creating great expectations, thanks to several victories, as if this Itas Trentino without the starting setter were to bring home the same results as before his injury. Today we really gave it our all. We left absolutely no stone unturned and this is a merit that will allow us to digest this defeat as soon as possible. We must reset, because the third-place series has an important goal like the Champions League. The objectives we still have ahead of us are so significant that I don't think it's worth staying to cry or regret a hard-fought match that we lost only at 15-17 in the tie-breaker.”

Trentino vs. Monza | Highlights | Superlega | Round 5 of the Semifinals

The penultimate fourth leg of the fifth-place playoffs round-robin phase offered three straight-setters over the weekend and provided the names of the first two semifinalists - Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza and Rana Verona.

Gas Sales achieved their fourth win in a row, a 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-19) at Pallavolo Padova Padua, to stay undefeated on top of the current standings on 11 points and a 4-0 win-loss record. Brazilian outside Ricardo Lucarelli led the way with 14 points, followed by opposite Yuri Romano with 12 and outside Francesco Recine with 10. Padova dropped below the cut-off for the semifinals, in fifth place on 3 and 1-3, but still have a chance to book one of the two remaining vacancies.

Verona hammered out a 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-22) shutout of visiting Valsa Group Modena to improve to 10 and 3-1 in second place and leave the opponent bottom of the table on 2 and 1-3, also still with a shot at the top four. Malian outside Noumory Keita produced a match-high 19 points towards the victory. Iranian opposite Amin Esmaeilnezhad added another 16. His Russian counterpart on Modena’s side, Maksim Sapozhkov, led his team with 13 points.

Cucine Lube Civitanova returned to the winning track with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-11) sweep of their home game against Cisterna Volley and climbed two spots up the table to third place on 6 and 2-2. Cisterna are also still above the line for the semis, in fourth place on 4 and 1-3. Cuban outside Marlon Yant and Turkish opposite Adis Lagumdzija spearheaded Lube with 15 points each, followed by Bulgarian outside Aleksandar Nikolov with 13, while French opposite Theo Faure led Cisterna with 11 points.

Civitanova vs. Cisterna | Highlights | Superlega | Playoff 5 Posto

SuperLega action will resume on Wednesday with the first leg of the best-of-five third-place playoff between Trentino and Allianz Milan and the fifth leg of the fifth-place playoffs. The first match of the best-of-five championship series between Sir and Vero Volley will take place on Thursday.

SuperLega Credem Banca 2023-2024 championship playoff – 1st leg:
Apr 18, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Sir Susa Vim Perugia v Mint Vero Volley Monza

SuperLega Credem Banca 2023-2024 third-place playoff – 1st leg:
Apr 17, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Itas Trentino Trento v Allianz Milan

SuperLega Credem Banca 2023-2024 fifth-place playoffs – 5th leg:
Apr 17, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Rana Verona v Cisterna Volley
Apr 17, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Valsa Group Modena v Pallavolo Padova Padua
Apr 17, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza v Cucine Lube Civitanova