By Tomasso

The most anticipated match of the day was, of course, Modena vs Perugia, one of the most heated rivalries in the present Superleague. All teams had full rosters and the usual lineups, even if, as Velasco openly said in the post-game interview, Christenson was “playing on one leg”. Modena had a good start, despite a lot of serve errors on both side, taking a 13-10 lead. On 14-12 there was a very controversial moment. A spike out by Modena was challenged by Velasco, who asked for a block touch. The video challenge clearly showed the touch and the screen clearly showed “Block touch: YES”. Nevertheless, the ref called it no touch. Modena protested, got 2 yellow cards and, in the end, the 2nd ref was able to convince the 1st to overturn the call. This is what happens when you send Superleague’s worst ref (Sandro La Micela) to officiate big matches. Anyway, this episode seemed to have broken Modena’s rhythm and Perugia tied the game (16-16). Still, Modena went immediately up again with a great block by Bednorz on Leòn (18-16). Another error by the Cuban (a bic that was out) gave the 1st to Modena (25-23).

The 2nd set was tight as well, with Leòn still struggling to make a difference. Modena went up 14-12 then “The Guy Who Serves Well Only Against Modena Formerly Known As Lanza’s serving turned the set around (15-17). Modena got back in the game (18-18), then Perugia scored and sent Atanasjevic to the service line. The result? A 7-0 break interrupted only by the end of the set (18-25). Perugia won a very ugly set (35%-37% kills) using their favorite weapon, service (4 aces, 21% positive reception and -5% efficiency for Modena).

The 3rd set wasn’t much of a contest (20-25), with Perugia drastically improving their accuracy (86% kills!) and with glimpses of Leòn (4 points, 80% kills). Despite 64% kills, 11 of Modena’s 20 points of the set came from Perugia’s serve errors. Also, Modena tried to patch things up changing the libero (Benvenuti), but Perugia avoided him (2 receptions, 1 perfect).

The 4th set looked a lot like the 2nd one, very balanced, with Mazzone going in for a very disappointing Anzani (3 points, 33% kills, -7 won/lost). Perugia went up 8-10, Keemink and Pinali went in for Christenson and Zaytsev, then the 2 starters came back in and Modena tied the game (17-17). A spike by Bednorz brought Modena up again (20-19), then Leòn went to the service line. He hadn’t been a threat from the line until then, but right when Perugia needed him the most he answered with a 5-0 break (including 2 aces) that gave Perugia 4 match balls (20-24). Modena canceled the 1st one but could only watch Atanasjevic putting down the match point (21-25).

This match clearly showed why there’s a 9 points gap in the standings between those teams. Perugia didn’t play their best match and risked losing the 2nd set as well as the 4th set, but in both cases, a terrific serving turn gave them the victory (12 aces despite 30 errors). Modena’s serve, on the other hand, was pretty bad. 3 aces, 16 errors and, most of all, they let the Superleague’s worst team in reception finish with 55% positive reception (their average is 44%) and with 20% efficiency (average 11%). Perugia had all men over 50% kills. Leòn (19 points, 52% kills, 2 aces, 1 block) was named MVP because of his serving turn that ended the match, but I believe Atanasjevic (27 points, 63% kills, 5 aces) deserved it so much more. When it became clear that Modena’s strategy was based on containing Leòn, De Cecco started serving his OPP on negative reception and he did what he wanted against Modena’s weak blocking.

The home team is still the Superleague’s best team in reception (both on perfect % and efficiency), but yesterday Perugia found easy targets in Bednorz (5 errors) and, surprisingly, Rossini (4). In the post-game, interview, Zaytsev (10 points, 50% kills, 1 ace) talked about him and the team being tired, both physically and mentally. It can be very much true, but what’s the catch here? All top-3 teams had players who participated in the WC’s Final 6, including guys Atanasjevic and Kovacevic who don’t seem out of shape at all. Maybe Velasco organized Modena’s workload to arrive in top form in the playoffs. That would also explain why he constantly talks about the regular season being “not that important” in the interviews. All we know for sure is that Modena is now -9 from Perugia, -5 from Lube (3rd), only +3 from Milano (5th) and in just 6 days they will face Perugia again in the Italian Cup semifinals (not to mention Lube the following week). One last thing about Velasco. He called a questionable time out early in the 4th set and literally wasted a video check a little later. They could have been useful on that Leòn serving turn, especially when you think that the 1st ace was very close to the line and Zaytsev’s spike out had been probably touched by the block.

Trento, on paper, had an easy job hosting poor guys Castellana Grotte. The game went as expected (3-0, 75-55 aggregate scoring) and the only relevant news were Kovacevic being healthy again (16 points, 56% kills, 73% positive reception, 1 ace, 1 block), Codarin (5 points, 100% kills, 1 ace, 2 blocks) giving some well-deserved rest to Lisinac (3 points, 40% kills, 1 ace) halfway through the game and Castellana using Zingel (15 points, 50% kills, 1 block) as OPP after Renan left the team to play in Turkey’s 2nd league just a couple days ago.

Sora put in a bigger effort in trying to stop Lube, pushing a lot from service, but the result wasn’t much different (0-3), despite the guests playing without both Juantorena and Stankovic (they will be available for next weekend, though). Kovar (5 points, 33% kills, 5 reception errors, 1 ace) wasn’t much of a substitute for Juantorena, but the other Cubans took care of it (15 points, 58% kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks for Leal; 10 points, 70% kills, 3 blocks for Simon). Sora finished the game with 39% kills and no set over 42%, while it was a rising crescendo for Lube (50-58-64%).

A super interesting match was the Milano derby. You may know, in fact, that Monza was part of Milano’s province until 2004, when they became independent (Monza-Brianza province) and that Vero Volley play their games in Monza but they’re officially based in Milano. Monza was eager to put an end to their losing streak (3), while Milano wanted to take advantage of Modena’s fall to get closer to 4th place. The home team recovered Plotnytskyi but didn’t have faith in Buchegger’s health and started again with Ghafour as OPP, while the guests had their usual lineup. Everyone hoping for a tight match was deeply disappointed, though, because after less than 90’ Milano torched Monza (0-3, 56-75 aggregate score) thanks to a great all-around performance (8 aces, 8 blocks). Abdel-Aziz (16 points, 50% kills, 4 aces, 1 block) went back being the ace machine he was last year, well assisted by Maar (19 points, 64% kills, 1 ace) and Clevenot (12 points, 53% kills, 64% perfect reception, 2 aces, 1 block). On Monza’s side, the only one who could walk out with his head up was Beretta (7 points, 75% kills, 1 block). Plotnytskyi’s return was less than memorable (8 points, 29% kills, 0% reception efficiency with 5 errors, 1 block) and, despite being his team’s top scorer, Dzavoronok (12 points, 31% kills, 2 aces, 1 block) did not have his best night, too.

Ravenna’s playoff hopes were tuned down by Verona, which came, saw and conquered (0-3). The home team gave all they got, but the guests were simply too much for them to handle. Boyer (16 points, 41% kills, 4 aces) broke havoc from the line and was well assisted by former Trento duo Kaziyski (13 points, 50% kills, 54% positive reception, 1 ace) and Birarelli (11 points, 63% kills, 3 aces, 3 blocks). Ravenna tried to hang on the usual Rychlicki (18 points, 44% kills, 1 ace, 1 block) because both Poglajen (5 points, 23% kills) and the Raffaelli-Lavia duo (7 points, 22% kills, 2 blocks combined) were pretty awful. Before the game, there was a moving commemoration for Enrico Tabanelli, former Ravenna manager who passed away last week, with USAV legend and former Ravenna player Karch Kiraly in the stands.

Padova went to Siena hoping to defend their 7th seed, while the home team was desperately looking for points. Good news for Siena is, they found points. Bad news for Siena is, they got their 7th tie-break loss of the season. Siena came back from 0-2 and even went up 5-2 in the tie-break, but Travica’s turn on service leveled the set (7-7) and, despite Torres suffering from an injury, Padova ultimately conquered 2 precious points (11-15). The guests had another block fest (16, 5 by Cirovic), while 6 aces by Gladyr were not enough for Siena, which is now in a lot of trouble. In the last match of the day, Latina got a key win in Vibo Valentia (1-3) thanks to a great comeback performance by both Stern (19 points, 50% kills, 1 ace, 2 blocks) and Ngapeth (16 points, 70% kills, 62% positive reception, 2 aces). Great losing effort by the usual Al Hachdadi (27 points, 60% kills, 2 blocks).

RESULTS AND SCORESHEETS

Argos Sora 0-3 Lube Civitanova (20-25, 21-25, 22-25)

Sora: Kedzierski 2, De Barros Ferreira 6, Caneschi 1, Petkovic 18, Fey 8, Di Martino 2, Mauti (L), Marrazzo 1, Bonami (L), Bermudez 0.

Civitanova: Bruno 3, Leal 15, Simon 10, Sokolov 14, Kovar 5, Diamantini 4, Marchisio (L), Balaso (L), Cester 2, Cantagalli 0, D’Hulst 0.

MVP: Yoandy Leal (Civitanova)

Vero Volley Monza 0-3 Power Volley Milano (16-25, 21-25, 19-25)

Monza: Orduna 1, Dzavoronok 12, Yosifov 4, Ghafour 8, Plotnytskyi 8, Beretta 7, Rizzo (L), Galliani 0, Calligaro 0, Buchegger 2, Arasomwan 1, Botto 0.

Milano: Sbertoli 2, Clevenot 12, Kozamernik 6, Abdel-Aziz 16, Maar 19, Piano 4, Hoffer (L), Hirsch 0, Pesaresi (L), Izzo 0, Bossi 0.

MVP: Nimir Abdel-Aziz (Milano)

Callipo Vibo Valentia 1-3 Top Volley Latina (20-25, 21-25, 25-20, 24-26)

Vibo Valentia: Zhukouski 2, Skrimov 3, Mengozzi 8, Al Hachdadi 27, Barreto Silva 19, Vitelli 6, Cappio (L), Marsili 0, Lopez 2, Marra (L).

Latina: Sottile 2, Palacios 4, Rossi 6, Stern T. 19, Ngapeth 16, Gitto 9, Caccioppola (L), Santucci (L), Barone 0, Gavenda 0, Stern Z. 0, Parodi 8, Huang 0.

MVP: Swan Ngapeth (Latina)

Porto Robur Costa Ravenna 0-3 Blu Volley Verona (22-25, 22-25, 20-25)

Ravenna: Saitta 5, Poglajen 5, Verhees 3, Rychlicki 18, Raffaelli 2, Russo 2, Marchini (L), Frascio (L), Goi (L), Lavia 5, Di Tommaso 0, Argenta 2.

Verona: Spirito 6, Manavinezhad 2, Solé 5, Boyer 16, Kaziyski 13, Birarelli 11, Giuliani (L), Pinelli 0, Sharifi 7, De Pandis (L), Alletti 0.

MVP: Matey Kaziyski (Verona)

Emma Villas Siena 2-3 Pallavolo Padova (21-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18, 11-15)

Siena: Cortesia 7, Marouf 0, Gladyr 13, Ishikawa 22, Hernandez 12, Savani 16, Giovi (L), Giraudo 0, Mattei 3.

Padova: Polo 7, Louati 19, Cirovic 15, Volpato 13, Torres 15, Travica 2, Danani (L), Cottarelli 0, Barnes 2, Lazzaretto 1, Bassanello (L).

MVP: Dragan Travica (Padova)

Trentino Volley 3-0 New Mater Castellana Grotte (25-18, 25-17, 25-20)

Trento: Giannelli 1, Kovacevic 16, Lisinac 3, Vettori 13, Russell 15, Candellaro 7, De Angelis (L), Grebennikov (L), Cavuto 0, Nelli 2, Codarin 5, Daldello 0.

Castellana: Falaschi 2, Wlodarczyk 7, Scopelliti 5, Zingel 15, Mirzajanpourmouziraji 6, De Togni 3, Pace (L), Cavaccini (L), Kruzhkov 0, Quartarone 0, Studzinski Rodrigues 1.

MVP: Uros Kovacevic (Trento)

Modena Volley 1-3 Sir Volley Perugia (25-23 18-25 20-25 21-25)

Modena: Christenson 1, Urnaut 14, Anzani 3, Zaytsev 10, Bednorz 11, Holt 5, Benvenuti (L), Rossini (L), Keemink 0, Pierotti 0, Kaliberda 2, Mazzone 0, Pinali 3.

Perugia: De Cecco 1, Lanza 10, Podrascanin 7, Atanasijevic 27, Leòn 19, Ricci 7, Piccinelli (L), Della Lunga 0, Colaci (L), Galassi 0, Seif 0, Hoag 0.

MVP: Wilfredo Leòn (Perugia)

STANDINGS

Perugia – 51

Trento – 50

Civitanova – 47

Modena – 42

Milano – 39

Verona – 35

Padova – 29

Monza* – 24

Ravenna – 23

Latina – 21

Vibo* – 19

Sora* – 16

Siena* – 12

Castellana – 6

*one game less

STATISTICAL LEADERS – PLAYERS

Points (match day): Aleksandar Atanasjevic (Perugia), Mohamed Al Hachdadi (Vibo) – 27

Points (Superleague): Dusan Petkovic (Sora) – 410

Points per set: Dusan Petkovic (Sora) – 5.54

Aces (match day): Jurij Gladyr (Siena) – 6

Aces (Superleague): Wilfredo Leòn (Perugia) – 76

Aces per set: Wilfredo Leòn (Perugia) – 1.07

Blocks (match day): Lazar Cirovic (Padova) – 5

Blocks (Superleague): Sebastian Solé (Verona) – 58

Blocks per set: Sebastian Solé (Verona) – 0.73

STATISTICAL LEADERS – TEAMS

Kill % (match day): Perugia – 58%

Kill % (Superleague): Perugia – 56.6%

Aces (match day): Perugia – 12

Total aces: Perugia – 197

Aces/set: Perugia – 2.77

Blocks (match day): Padova – 16

Total blocks: Verona – 207

Blocks/set: Verona – 2.62

ITALIAN CUP FINAL 4 (all on RaiSport):

Semifinals (February 9th):

Perugia – Modena (3.30 pm Italian, 9.30 am ET)

Trento – Civitanova (6 pm Italian, noon ET)

Final: February 10th, 6 pm Italian, noon ET

NEXT ROUND (February 17th, 6 pm Italian, noon ET):

Civitanova – Modena (8.30 pm Italian, 2.30 pm ET, RaiSport)

Verona – Trento (February 18th, 8 pm Italian, 2 pm ET)

Latina – Ravenna

Padova – Vibo

Perugia – Castellana

Milano – Siena (February 16th, 8.30 pm Italian, 2.30 pm ET)

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