Super Lega 2022 - News

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Ishikawa was the MVP in Milano's triumph over Lube

Allianz Milano wasted no time to bounce back and won a five-set battle against defending champions Cucine Lube Civitanova on Sunday to tie the SuperLega Credem Banca semifinal series between the teams 1-1.

Itas Trentino are in a strong position in the other series after they downed Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza for the second time in four days on Sunday and now hold a 2-0 lead, needing only another triumph to advance to the Finals. The third encounters for both best-of-five series will take place on Wednesday.

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Milano entered the semifinals on a high after eliminating reigning world champions Sir Safety Perugia in the quarterfinals, but couldn’t keep their level in the opening duel, held on Thursday, in Civitanova Marche, where they fell to Lube in straight sets.

The fighting spirit that pushed the team to overcome Perugia was back on Sunday, though, as Milano fed from the energy of their fans and battled adversity to beat Lube 3-2 (25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-9) to even the series and force its return to Milan next weekend for match four.

“The series started today for us,” remarked Milano's coach Roberto Piazza. “We did a very good job from technical, tactical and emotional standpoints. Now everything is even again and we'll use the time between now and the next match to rest and watch film.”

Japanese superstar Yuki Ishikawa led Milano’s dramatic victory. The 27-year-old outside hitter, who had been limited to only seven points on Thursday, had a stellar performance, tallying a match-high 22 points (20 kills, one ace, one block) on Sunday’s encounter.

Ishikawa got great help from French opposite Jean Patry, who registered 19 points (15 kills, two aces, two blocks), and Cuban outside hitter Osniel Melgarejo, who added 17 (all in kills).

Lube’s production in the match came mostly from Bulgarian young outside hitter Aleksandar Nikolov, who fired 20 points (all in kills), and veteran Italian opposite Ivan Zaytsev, who delivered 19 (15 kills, one ace, three blocks).

“We expected them to be a different team than the one we played in match one,” said Lube's libero Fabio Balaso. “They created a lot of problems for us on the first set with their serving. We figured things out during the match and were able to push them to five, but unfortunately couldn't win. I wish we had started the tie-breaker better, but thinking about it now won't help, so we focus on match three.”

Homecourt advantage wasn’t as much of a factor in the duel between Trentino and Piacenza as the 2022 FIVB Men’s Club World Championship secured their second victory in the series despite being on the road – Trentino won 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 25-20).

The second victory in four days over Piacenza gives more confidence to Trentino, who had lost both their Italian League regular season duels and the Coppa Italia Final to their opponents heading into the semifinals.

Star outside hitter Alessandro Michieletto came up big for Trentino, producing 15 points with 12 kills, two aces and one block. Team captain and opposite Matey Kaziyski added another ten, all produced in kills.

“I believe both teams played with more intensity today than they did on match one,” Trentino's head coach Angelo Lorenzetti reflected. “Our defence was really strong today and helped us when we had issues to score. It's a big win for us, but we need to remain focused because you can't take anything for granted in the playoffs and even less against Piacenza, who had a big comeback in the quarterfinals. We need to stay humble and continue to focus on one set at a time.”

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Michieletto won the battle against Piacenza's blockers and scored 15 points

Despite the loss, Piacenza had not only the match’s top scorer in opposite Yuri Romanò, who left the court with 19 points (18 kills, one ace), but also three other players who reached double digits in points in outside hitters Yoandy Leal (12) and Ricardo Lucarelli (11) and middle blocker Robertlandy Simón (10).

“Our serves didn’t have much of an effect today and some other things didn’t work well either,” setter Antoine Brizard commented. “I think we made some errors early on and that gave Trentino more confidence. We have another opportunity to extend the series on Wednesday and we’ll try our best to do it. We’ve come back from a 2-0 deficit in the quarterfinals and we’ll try to do it again now.”