Modena Piacenza 2203

Lagumdzija and Leal had an exciting scoring battle in the match between Modena and Piacenza

There was no shortage of excitement in the second leg of the quarterfinals of the 2022-2023 SuperLega Credem Banca, with three of the four matches played on Wednesday going to five sets and Valsa Group Modena and WithU Verona standing only win away from the semifinals.

The teams topped Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza and Cucine Lube Civitanova for the second time in four days and need only another triumph to secure their spots in the semifinals of the Italian League. Allianz Milano and Vero Volley Monza made good use of their homecourt advantage to top Sir Safety Susa Perugia and Itas Trentino and tie their best-of-five series 1-1.

· Watch all SuperLega Credem Banca matches live or on demand on VBTV.

Modena and Verona are both in a position to win their series with another triumph on Sunday, when the third leg of their series will be played. The third duel between Perugia and Milano will take place on the same day while Trentino and Monza open the weekend schedule by playing each other on Saturday.

Expected by many to be the most exciting duel in the quarterfinal round, the series between Modena and Piacenza is living up to the expectations. After winning a five-set battle at home on Sunday, Modena did it again on Wednesday, going on the road against the reigning Coppa Italia champions and walking away with a 3-2 (19-25, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13) triumph. The team coached by Andrea Giani now needs only one win over the next three matches to make it to the semifinals.

“We never give up,” Giani remarked. “Our team has grown a lot during the season and I feel that we deserved to win this difficult match. We have learned how to suffer and how to react to the challenges Piacenza pose to us. It will be another battle on Sunday but we’re excited to play in front of our amazing fans.”

Modena’s stellar offensive duo of Adis Lagumdzija and Earvin Ngapeth was again instrumental for the team’s scoring efforts, with the Turkish opposite tallying 21 points (17 kills, four blocks) and the French star outside hitter adding another 20 (19 kills, one block). Piacenza’s Brazilian outside hitter Yoandy Leal was the match’s top scorer with 27 points (25 kills, two blocks).

After causing the biggest upset of the opening leg and sweeping defending champions Lube on the road on Sunday, Verona repeated the triumph in front of their home fans, this time grinding to a five-set (24-26, 25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 15-11) victory that places the team only one win away from their first semifinal appearance in the Italian League.

Russian opposite Maksim Sapozhkov led all scorers with 27 points (24 kills, three blocks), seven more than Malian outside hitter Noumory Keita, who left the court with 20 (all in kills). Veteran opposite Ivan Zaytsev was Lube’s main offensive player with 23 points (18 kills, three aces, two blocks).

“We couldn’t be any happier to get the win after such an intense match,” said Verona’s assistant coach Dario Simoni. “We were in a tough spot during the match, but the team had a great reaction. We need to approach match three with great attention because it will be again decided in the details. We have to stay focused on our goal.”

The third five-set victory of the day was perhaps the most impactful one as it had Milano, the eighth-best team in the regular season, taking down league leaders Perugia, who entered the court undefeated on a 23-match winning streak. The hosts, who had lost in straight sets on the road on Saturday, almost blew a 2-0 lead and saw Perugia come back, but were stronger in the tie-breaker to win 3-2 (27-25, 25-21, 21-25, 18-25, 15-13).

“This match was really important for us because we wanted to perform well and repay the affection of our fans,” outside hitter Osniel Melgarejo commented. “Today’s match was totally different from Saturday’s and we know we need to head to the next one with the same energy. We now focus on Sunday, but it’s good to know the series will return to Milano for match four.”

Milano Perugia 2203

Melgarejo had a spectacular performance and helped Milano upset reigning world champions Perugia

Awarded as the match’s Most Valuable Player, the Cuban led Milano’s scoring with 22 points (18 kills, four blocks), followed by Japanese star Yuki Ishikawa, who tallied 18 (17 kills, one ace). Polish star outside hitter Wilfredo Leon of Perugia was the match’s top scorer with impressive 29 points (20 kills, two aces, seven blocks).

The fourth match of the day was the only one that didn't go to five sets, with Monza delivering a strong performance to beat Trentino 3-1 (25-21, 25-16, 23-25, 25-18) and tie the series. The side from Trento had prevailed on the tie-breaker in the first leg of the quarterfinals.

German opposite György Grozer was Monza’s top scorer in the match, tallying 21 points (16 kills, two blocks, three blocks), followed by Canadian outside hitter Stephen Maar, who left the court with 19 (15 kills, three aces, one block).

Trentino had a modified starting lineup in the match, with star outside hitter Alessandro Michieletto and Serbian national team middle blocker Marko Podraščanin not entering the match and outside hitter Daniele Lavia coming off the bench. Czech outside hitter Donovan Džavoronok was the team’s most effective player with 18 points (16 kills, one ace, one block).

“We played a very good match,” said Brazilian setter Fernando ‘Cachopa’ Kreling, who had his first start with Monza in the season after sustaining a knee injury and took home the MVP award. “I'm glad about the MVP award, but tonight anyone could have won it. We need to be ready for another big challenge on Saturday and to deliver another performance like this.”