Desired, sought after and in the end fully deserved. It is Verona that takes care of conquering the fifth consecutive victory, in a stadium full of people and passion, overcoming Valsa Group Modena in the tie-break, and even with the ticket for the playoffs in his pocket. Coach Stoytchev’s team takes two gigantic points against the second in the standings, climbing to 31 points, with two rounds to play to reach the end of the regular season. Applause for Sapozhkov’s return as starter, best scorer of the match with 29 points, 2 aces and 3 blocks. Loot from 19 each, however, for Keita and Mozic, with perfect Spirit in the control room, a performance that earned him the MVP award. Next stage: Sunday 5 March at the home of Emma Villas Aubay Siena.


In the starting sextet, coach Stoytchev confirms Spirito in the control room, returning to the original diagonal completed by Sapozhkov. The two spikers are Mozic and Keita, in the center space for Cortesia and Grozdanov, while in the libero role there is Gaggini. The match begins with a soft touch by Rinaldi, which surprises the local defence. The guests immediately find a break thanks to the ace of Lagumdzija and the winning pipe of Ngapeth (0-4). Verona’s reaction comes with an intelligent lob from Keita, followed by a point from the second row from Mozic. Sapozhkov closes the gap, finding the right gap twice from place 2 (6-8). Bruno’s block allows the Emilians to create a four-point lead (8-12), but the hosts are still in the slipstream thanks to Keita. The draw comes thanks to Sapozhkov’s block on Ngapeth (14-14). The overtaking comes after an aerial invasion by Bruno, with Mozic who puts his signature from nine meters for 20 to 17. Verona digs the groove with Spirito’s wall, before closing the first set with Mozic.


Modena unlocks the second set, but the blocks of Grozdanov and Sapozhkov reverse the trend, bringing the Scala to 3 to 1, before increasing the advantage. The guests feel the blow, then respond with a good series of Ngapeth’s serve which allows Lagumdzija to clock in at 6-6. Sapozhkov sends his lead back by two points with an ace that hits the baseline. Stankovic’s first half is worth overtaking, then Mozic closes a prolonged action for 9-9. Rinaldi shoots hard in serving, making it 11-12. Sanguinetti signs the +3 for central streets, before Mozic puts the partial back on par with a big monster block (16-16). With the protractor Grozdanov draws an impregnable trajectory from nine meters for 18-16. Verona tries to escape, but the Emilians remain on their heels. Sapozhkov shoots hard diagonally, then Rinaldi revives his serve by sending the challenge to the advantages. The Russian first finds another winning gap, then Mozic ends the fraction on 28 to 26.


Back on the field, a volley from Keita is worth the first point. The two teams slow down the pace a bit, with the guests trying to extend, but Sapozhkov’s ace is worth the draw for the local team (6-6). The match remains on the rails of balance, with Spirito allowing his team to put their face back with an ace calibrated to the millimeter (11-10). Modena takes up 12-14, but Mozic balances the fate of the match with a diagonal shot that leaves the opposing rearguard motionless. Ngapeth then does not pass from the second line, impacting the dam erected by Spirito (17-17). Rinaldi is still incisive in serving, sending his team up 17-20. Mozic turns a second-row ball into gold and tries to reopen the partial, but Sanguinetti’s two blocks close the score at 19-25.


Keita immediately makes up for Spirito’s mistake in service, managing a dirty ball in the best possible way (1-1). The Malian also takes center stage with a large pipe, which anticipates Mozic’s whip (4-4). Break of Modena with the block of Lagumdzija, which stamps the 6-8. Keita leaves the opposing receivers petrified with a precise ace, then the guests get back ahead in the score, going up 9-12 and extending with the direct point from the nine meters of the Turkish opposite. Keita still wears the clothes of a solver, stamping the 12-15 in a precarious balance. Then it’s a two-way block that brings Stoytchev’s boys back close to their opponents. Sanguinetti restores the distance with a winning first half (13-17). Sapozhkov places three finely crafted down the line, which are worth -1 (17-18), then Bruno takes care of the service to give the canaries a four point lead (17-21). Mozic cancels the first set ball, but the guests close the set on 20-25.


Sapozhkov responds to the guests’ hands-out, finding in Keita a valid ally from nine meters, before recovering the scene from seat 2 (3-1). The eagle of Mali remains in flight with another deadly ace, followed by two points again from the Russian opposite, which bring the the partial on 6 to 2. Rinaldi’s block reduces the gap, but Verona maintains a three-point lead and with Sapozhkov climbs to 11-8. Moscow raises its voice against the block for 12-9. Courtesy is no less and with Sanguinetti’s mistake, Verona gives itself the match point. In the end it is Mozic who puts the seal on the challenge, which Verona takes home with tenacity.