Tomasso is off for the week in the alps, so I’ll fill in for an exciting round 5 of the second half of the season.

The big match of the weekend took place on Sunday, the much-anticipated battle between the newly minted 1st place team Trentino, and the struggling 3rd place team Lube Civitanova. Simone Giannelli’s team came into the match the winners of 21 straight games in a row between the Italian league and CEV cup, including a sweep of Perugia two weekends ago to take first place. Lube recently suffered a defeat against Perugia and a dropped point in a tight game against Verona. But the 2018-2019 season is the gift that keeps on giving, and making predictions for any matches between the big 4 is impossible.

Lube was in the driver’s seat for most of the match, barring a brief period of strong serving by Trentino in the 2nd. Tsvetan Sokolov had one of his best games of the season. 20/29 hitting and 2 blocks for the Bulgarian opposite were a huge part of Lube’s success, and he earned an MVP for his contributions. The three Cubans all managed to have good games at the same time for once, with Leal and Simon contributing 12 points each, and Juantorena with 16. Bruno was also great this game with balanced set distribution and a key serving run at the beggining of the 4th set. A positive trend for Lube to be sure, and one of the few times this season where they have played up to their talent level.

On the other side of the net, Uros Kovacevic finally had one of his offensive disaster games that he had somehow managed to avoid for the most part this season. 7/21 attacking, including 5 unforced errors from some pretty reasonable setting, is not what you want for your star player. Vettori also struggled this match after stringing together two good performances in a row, scoring only 14 times on 29 attempts. Trentino is still in a better spot than expected at this point in the season, but there is some room for improvement in their out of system offense.

Milano had a close 3-2 encounter with Grotte, who despite being winless for the season manages to battle every good team to the bitter end. The outsides were the stars of the show for this one, with Maar and Clevenot leading the charge for Milano while Mirzanjanpour scored an efficient 25 for Grotte. Both the opposites did not have as much success though, with Abdel-Aziz being limited to 13/33 hitting and Buiatti only scoring one more kill than his Iranian teammate despite getting 16 more sets. Milano needs every point they can get here for a chance to finish above Modena in the standings.

Padova’s 3-1 win over Monza was an important one for the playoff race, as now Padova is a full 6 ranking points ahead of 9th place Ravenna. Going by the 1st set, you would have thought that Monza was in an entirely different league, getting 9 blocks and limiting Padova to 5/26 hitting. After an epic 2nd set that Padova scraped out 30-28, the momentum was too far in their favour and they cleaned up the rest of the match 25-19, 25-20. Cirovic replaced Barnes quickly in the 1st set, and the Canadian outside hitter still doesn’t look like himself so far in Italy. Still no Plotnytski for Monza, who are really missing his powerful service and pipe threat.

Ravenna continues to slide with a 1-3 loss to Valentia. Kamil Rychlicki does not look comfortable with the switch to outside, and Andrea Argenta is not making a strong case at opposite either. There is a chance we see Rychlicki back to OPP and Argenta benched for the next match as Ravenna’s desperation increases. Barreto Silva Carlos Eduardo, aka “Kadu”, finally gets an MVP with a 14 kill, 4 block performance.

In the good teams beat on bad teams category of games, Perugia beat Siena 3-0 (MVP to Atanasijevic), Modena beat Latina 3-0 (MVP to Rossini), Verona beat Sora 3-1 (MVP to Kaziyski).

Superlega action returns on Wednesday, January 23rd with the quarter finals of the Italian cup. The big 4 are big favourites here, but if any season is primed for an upset it is this one. The matchups are as follows:

Perugia-Padova

Modena-Milano

Trentino-Verona

Lube-Monza

Emma Villas SIENA – Sir Safety Conad PERUGIA 0-3
Punti: 22 Atanasijevic (Perugia)
Ace: 6 Atanasijevic (Perugia)
Attacchi: 16 Atanasijevic (Perugia)
Muri: 2 Van de Voorde (Siena); Ricci, Lanza (Perugia)
MVP: Atanasijevic (Perugia)

Itas TRENTINO – Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA 1-3
Punti: 22 Sokolov (Civitanova)
Ace: 3 Simon (Civitanova)
Attacchi: 20 Sokolov (Civitanova)
Muri: 4 Giannelli (Trentino)
MVP: Sokolov (Civitanova)

Globo Banca Pop. del Frusinate SORA – Calzedonia VERONA 1-3
Punti: 28 Petkovic (Sora)
Ace: 2 Caneschi, Petkovic (Sora)
Attacchi: 26 Petkovic (Sora)
Muri: 4 Boyer (Verona)
MVP: Kaziyski (Verona)

Tonno Callipo Calabria VIBO VALENTIA – Consar RAVENNA 3-1
Punti: 18 Kadu (Vibo Valentia)
Ace: 3 Vitelli, Al Hachdadi (Vibo Valentia)
Attacchi: 14 Kadu (Vibo Valentia), Poglajen (Ravenna)
Muri: 6 Mengozzi (Vibo Valentia), Russo (Ravenna)
MVP: Kadu (Vibo Valentia)

Azimut Leo Shoes MODENA – Top Volley LATINA 3-0
Punti: 12 Urnaut (Modena)
Ace: 2 Urnaut (Modena)
Attacchi: 11 Zaytsev (Modena)
Muri: 2 Christenson, Holt e Mazzone (Modena)
MVP: Rossini (Modena)

Vero Volley MONZA – Kioene PADOVA 1-3 
Punti: 24 Ghafour (Monza)
Ace: 2 Dzavoronok, Yosifov (Monza), Torres (Padova)
Attacchi: 17 Ghafour (Monza)
Muri: 7 Ghafour (Monza)
MVP: Torres (Padova)

Bcc CASTELLANA GROTTE – Revivre Axopower MILANO 2-3 
Punti: 29 Zanatta (Castellana Grotte)
Ace: 3 Abdel-Aziz (Milano)
Attacchi: 25 Zanatta (Castellana Grotte)
Muri: 5 Zingel (Castellana Grotte)
MVP: Clevenot (Milano)

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