WithU Verona repeats itself and scores its second victory in the Play Off Quarter Finals series, beating Cucine Lube Civitanova in front of a new dressed up Pala AGSM AIM. Coach Stoytchev’s team goes down twice in the score, but in both cases demonstrates a great ability to react, sending the match to the tie-break, where they win at the end of five very tight sets. The opposite Sapozhkov took the scepter of best scorer again thanks to the 27 balls he managed to put on the ground. An honorable mention, however, goes to central Grozdanov, author of a performance to be framed topped off with 12 points, five of which were blocked. On Sunday at 18.00, the Scala players return to the Eurosuole Forum to face Game 3 of this confrontation.
In the initial line-up, coach Stoytchev relies on the direction of Spirito, with Sapozhkov in the role of opposite to complete the diagonal, while the two spikers are Mozic and Keita. In the center, space for the couple formed by Mosca and Grozdanov, with Gaggini confirmed as free. The match opens with two shots from the center, with Chinenyeze responding to Moscow’s great first half. The visitors go ahead, but Keita immediately raises the revs of his engine, before the two consecutive blocks printed by Grozdanov and Sapozhkov, which are worth 5 to 3. After the draw reached by Lube, Verona puts the face back and keeps the +2 thanks at the precise frontline of the Russian giant. Yant’s ace opens the recovery of the cooks, who overtake and with Nikolov’s attack they fly to 10-12. The Scala players put the game back on track with Grozdanov, who signed on 14-14. Lube’s new lead was dampened by Sapozhkov’s block, but Zaytsev gave him a three-point lead (15-18). Stoytchev’s boys close the gap and then find the hook on 19-19. The two teams respond blow by blow. An invasion gives the hosts the set ball, but the guests overturn with the block of Chinenyeze (24-25), before closing the set with a hand out.
The fraction begins with Civitanova ahead by two, but Keita and Mosca immediately equalize the accounts (2-2). A good series from Mozic’s service allows the Gialloblù to get ahead in the score, before a three-man block of applause makes it 7-3. Blengini’s team tries to shorten the distance with Bottolo’s ace, but it’s still Grozdanov who raises his voice against the block, increasing the advantage (10-5). Verona stretches and keeps the opponents away. Thanks to the Spirit wall, the lead points become seven (16-9). The Veronese attack works and, also thanks to some inaccuracies, flies to 20-13. The blocks of Chinenyeze and Yant then reduce the gap, but WithU remains up by four (21-17). Spirit and teammates hold up and with Yant’s wrong service they win the partial.
Upon returning to the field, Verona took advantage of the positive inertia and immediately rose to 3-0. The reaction from the Marches is immediate and with De Cecco’s second touch they shorten it to 6-5. The Scala players regain compactness and gain a three-point lead, then Anzani’s block and Nikolov’s long line bring the set to a draw (10-10). Zaytsev’s ace is worth the momentary overtaking, then a series from nine meters by Nikolov sends the visiting team ahead by three lengths (13-16). A soft touch from Mosca allows the Gialloblù to get back on the heels of their opponents (15-17). La Lube exploits the wave in her favor and increases the gap (18-21). Grozdanov takes advantage of a wrong reception and places the point that restores his strength (19-21). Then Nikolov takes the chair, who closes the set at 20.25.
At the start of the fourth set, Lube pushes hard and digs in alone (0-4). Sapozhkov unblocks him with a great attack, which Keita joins for the 2-6. From place two Keita unleashes all his power and brings him closer to the guests (4-8). Blengini’s troop does not break down and he manages to maintain a discrete advantage (7-12). Verona curbs the enthusiasm of the Marches and with the first half stamped by Grozdanov they shorten to 10-13. It is still the Bulgarian centre-back who keeps the local team afloat, which remains in the wake (12-14). Mozic pulls a pearl from the top hat and the gialloblù go to -1 (14-15). Two clamorous walls in Moscow give the hosts parity and rekindle the climate in the arena (17-17). Ace by Zaytsev, but Verona remains anchored thanks to Grozdanov (21-22), who is also decisive from nine meters for the Gialloblù overtaking (23-22). Then in an incandescent finish, Sapozhkov finds the touch of the block and sends the game to the tie-break.
The final set opens with Yant’s serving error, then a wall of applause closes an intense exchange for the Veronese 2-0. Keita plays cleverly at the sub-net and finds two points in a row that launch the Gialloblù up 4 to 1. Zaytsev’s ace shortens the distance, then De Cecco also finds the lateral line to serve, but at the changeover Mozic sends Verona ahead (8-7). We play point to point, with Verona keeping one point ahead, also thanks to the usual Slovenian hammer, which also stamps the +2 (13-11). The final phase gives goosebumps, with Sapozhkov putting the seal on the match, which sends WithU Verona up 2 to 0 in the series.