Superlega 2023 - News.

Allianz's Catania ready to cover while Ishikawa attacks against Trentino (source:

Catania ready to cover while Ishikawa attacks against Trentino

Another five-set battle unfolded in the second match of the Italian SuperLega Credem Banca third place playoff on Saturday evening. This time, Allianz Milan took advantage of the home-court factor to win the hard-fought tie-breaker in overtime and level the best-of-five series at one all. Their libero Damiano Catania showed a brilliant performance in defence with 14 successful digs to earn the Most Valuable Player award, while outside hitter Yuki Ishikawa spearheaded the offence to lead Allianz’s scorers.

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The Japanese star produced a total of 21 points, including two kill blocks and an ace, towards Allianz’s 3-2 (26-24, 17-25, 25-16, 25-27, 22-20) victory. Three more players of the winning team reached the double digits. Belgian opposite Ferre Reggers mastered 19 points, including two blocks and two aces. Cuban outside Osniel Mergarejo added 13 points and Argentinean middle Agustin Loser led the blocking with three stuffs towards a 10-point total. Other than making fewer unforced errors, the serving was the only element that tilted the balance Allianz’s way, with four of their nine aces authored by setter Paolo Porro, who tallied seven points, also scoring once in attack and twice on the block, including the 22-20 match winner in the tie-breaker.

Trentino’s better spiking and blocking counts stopped short of helping the team double their lead in the series. With playmaker Riccardo Sbertoli returning among the starters for the first time after recovering from an injury for over a month and a half, their outside Alessandro Michieletto and Luxembourgish opposite Kamil Rychlicki shared the top scorer honours of the match with 23 points apiece. The other outside, Giulio Magalini, added another 16, while Slovenian middle Jan Kozamernik finished with 10.

“I think the formula for winning this match was teamwork and the ability to stay together until the end, to put away even just one point more than the opponent,” Allianz’s Mergarejo commented after the match. “Now we already have to think about Wednesday's match because we would like to return to the Allianz Cloud with an opportunity to earn the third place at home. For my part, I'm happy to be able to lend a hand to the team. We worked a lot together. (Matey) Kaziyski couldn't play this evening, but we will all give our best to finish the championship as high as possible.”

“It's a shame, because we were close to an away victory and we started the fifth set better than our opponents,” said Trentino’s Kozamernik. “Our regret must not be linked to the tie-breaker, but to the first and the third sets, which we started really badly; we were a bit exhausted and could have done better, and only later did we find our rhythm.”

The series returns to Trento for game three on Wednesday. The SuperLega weekend also offers the second match of the championship series on Sunday afternoon, while the new week will start with Monday’s semifinals for the fifth place.

SuperLega Credem Banca 2023-2024 championship playoff – 2nd leg:
Apr 21, 15:15 local (13:15 UTC): Mint Vero Volley Monza v Sir Susa Vim Perugia

SuperLega Credem Banca 2023-2024 third place playoff – 3rd leg:
Apr 24, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Itas Trentino Trento v Allianz Milan

SuperLega Credem Banca 2023-2024 fifth place playoffs – semifinals:
Apr 22, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Rana Verona v Valsa Group Modena
Apr 22, 20:30 local (18:30 UTC): Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza v Cucine Lube Civitanova