In a setting made extraordinary by the 5000 fans who filled the Pala AGSM AIM, WithU Verona failed to close the series of quarterfinal playoffs against Cucine Lube Civitanova, which sent the challenge to Game 5. After unlocking the challenge with a great first set, coach Stoytchev’s team had to deal with the reaction from the guests. Three very tight partials and played on an equal footing which however rewarded Blengini’s troop, who took advantage of the Nikolov factor, elected MVP. However, important numbers for La Scala, especially in attack, where Keita has put down 25 points (with three aces), four more than his teammate Sapozhkov. Instead, Mozic stopped at 19. Appointment set for Saturday 8 April with the fifth round of the contest.
In the initial deployment, coach Stoytchev relies on the direction of Spirito, with Sapozhkov in the opposite role and the Mozic-Keita couple in the band. Mosca and Grozdanov are confirmed in the centre, while Gaggini is the libero. The first point crushes him to the ground Keita, who immediately changes the ball for him. The Malian also repeats himself from nine meters with an ace placed in the corner pocket. La Lube closes with Nikolov, but Verona maintains a three-point lead (4-1). Mozic also lights up from place 4, for the 7-3 in favor of the hosts. At the time-out called by Blengini, the Scala are on 9-4. The guests try to mend the gap and with Anzani’s block they go within 2 (10-8). Sapozhkov wins the tackle with Zaytsev under the net and finds the point of 13-9. The Russian is a powerhouse and together with a subsequent three-man block he increases the yellow and blue lead (16-10). The cooks try to get back into the game, but Verona holds up and with Keita’s pipe stays ahead by four (21-17). The set is closed by number 9 himself with two master strokes, which set the score at 25-20.
Upon returning to the field, Mozic immediately responded to Keita’s erroneous serve (1-1). WithU passes forward with the attack in the center of Moscow, which takes advantage of an inaccurate reception by the opposing rearguard (3-2). In the opening bars of the second set, we play point to point. A very intense exchange, then, culminates with Keita’s diagonal (7-5). The Malian bomber is devastating even from nine meters, sealing the 9 to 6 blows. Zaytsev gives the shock and with an ace that reduces the gap. A disputed ball warms the spirits of the building, with Verona maintaining a one-point lead (11-10). La Lube equalized with Chinenyeze’s ace and the match continued on the edge of balance (13-13). Keita is inspired and Spirito knows it, rewarding him on more than one occasion. Mozic raises his voice against the block for 16-15. Then Grozdanov sets up on his own and from nine meters clocks in at 18-15. The Marches go back to the tide thanks to Nikolov, who hits a winning streak, interrupted by Mozic and Sapozhkov’s ace (20-18). The Garcia weapon works for Blengini and the cooks overtake. Verona reacts, but the guests bring the result to 1-1.
Mozic opens the ball and Verona immediately tries to escape with a monster block from Keita and dizzying numbers from Sapozhkov (4-0). Keita plays well with his opponent’s hands and keeps the guests at a safe distance (6-2). Once again, however, it is the Russian who takes the stage with a wall of applause, who sends the Scala players ahead by five lengths (8-3) and then holes the red and white field by placing the ball within three metres. Keita is good again to play with the block of De Cecco and his companions for the 13-7. From nine meters Nikolov is still a determining factor and with a long streak he allows his team to get back into the running (13-12). Keita doesn’t fit and raises a dam in place four for a wall that gives Verona a breather. Sapozhkov is furious and signs the advantage of three lengths (18-15). Mozic shoots hard in serve and finds an applause ace (20-16). Verona keeps its attention high and gives itself three set points with the power of the Slovenian (24-20). Yant puts in a series of aces that reopen the challenge (24-24). We go to the advantages, where Lube surpasses and overturns the result.
The fourth fraction opens with Spirito’s service out just a little, immediately recovered from a well-placed ball from Keita. An ace from Nikolov launches the cooks, but Sapozhkov doesn’t allow them to escape with a winning longline (2-3). De Cecco finds the direct point from nine meters for his +2 (4-6). La Lube extends and climbs to 7-10 thanks to Chinenyeze’s first half. Keita returns incisively in serve, hitting the ace that keeps Verona afloat, again on the heels of the Marches (9-10). The duo found by Mozic and Mosca did well, allowing the Gialloblù to stay in line. The guests find a fair margin of advantage with Yant’s ace (13-16). Then Keita takes the chair, who puts things on an equal footing with two plays of the master (16-16). The Scala strike with Grozdanov’s first half (18-18), then Nikolov returns to serve and his series brings Lube up 18-21. Verona is alive and evens the score with Mozic. Also in this set we go up to the advantages, where the team from the Marche put the stamp on the match with a three-way block on Keita.