Lube, Trentino retake advantage in Italian League
Lube persevered, as defending champions Azimut Modena fought back from two sets down to force a tie-break, to score a very decisive 3-2 (25-21, 26-24, 21-25, 15-25, 15-12) home win before more than 4,000 fans.
Osmany Juantorena scored 17 points for Lube and Jiri Kovar added 14 as Lube, though Earvin Ngapeth of France with 23 for Modena was top scorer of the game.
It was Lube's second win over Modena in just a few days, after a 3-0 sweep midweek in the first leg of the European Champions League Playoffs. The two teams will meet again for the Champions League on Thursday before clashing in the fourth game of the Italian semifinals on 19 April.
Before another 4,000 fans at the Palatrento, Trentino just edged Sir Safety Conad Perugia 3-1 (28-26, 30-28, 22-25, 25-21) in an incredibely close game, with 15 points from Filippo Lanza, 13 from Simon Van De Voorde of Belgium, 12 each from Jan Stokr of the Czech Republic and Tine Urnaut of Slovenia, and another 11 from Sebastian Sole of Argentina. Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia was top scorer of the game with 22 for Perugia.
Russian Superleague on the stretch
Regular Season wrapped up in the Russian men's Superleague and Playoffs are now set, as the race for the title enters the final stretch.
Defending domestic champions and reigning European champions Zenit Kazan plus second-ranked Dinamo Moscow advance directly to the Final Six of the competition, 5-11 May.
Bets-of-three qualifiers for the Final Six (starting 20 April):
- Lokomotiv Novosibirsk v Nova Novokuybyshevsk
- Belogorie Belgorod v Yenisei Krasnoyarsk
- Kuzbass Kemerovo v Gazprom-Yugra Surgut
- Falek Novy Urengoy v Ural Ufa
Although there was little significance to most matches as far as ranking goes, Zenit finished undefeated on a 26-0 record following a 3-2 (25-23, 24-26, 25-15, 20-25, 15-7) win in Orenburg over bottom of the table Neftyanik. With most of the regular starters on the bench for most of the time, Zenit were led by USA's Matt Anderson who scored 19 points and Denis Zemchenok who added another 15, as they pounded the opposition from the service line for 17 aces (7 from Zemchenok alone).
Early lead for favourites in Brazil semifinals
In Brazil the favourites have gained a very early advantage in the race for ticket to the final, scoring wins in the first games of the best-of-five semifinal series.
Evandro Guerra got 18 kills in 27 swings for a 67% attacking efficiency as defending domestic champions and reigning South American and world champions Sada Cruzeiro Contagem overcame brasil Kirin Campinas 3-1 (25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 25-21) before 2,000 fans at home in the Riachao. Evandro was top scorer of the game with 21 points, but Yoandy Leal was voted MVP.
Previously, Funvic Taubate had swept Sesi Sao Paulo 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-21) before 2,000 fans at home as Wallace Souza scored 13 points and Lucas Loh picked up the MVP award.
The next matches of the series are this week.
Defending champions on track in Poland
ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle scored an away win that sees them almost touching a ticket to the final of the Polish PlusLiga after shutting out Jastrzebski Wegiel 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-19) in the first match of the home-and-away (with 'golden set' if necessary) semifinals series.
Sam Deroo of Belgium was top scorer with 19 points and was named MVP of the game, with Dawid Konarski adding another 13, as the defending champions dominated play across the board.
Led by MVP and top scorer on 16 points Bartosz Kurek, PGE Skra Belchatow also took a step in the right direction, sweeping Asseco Resovia Rzeszow 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-13) before almost 7,000 fans at home in the Lodz Arena.
The return matches are on 12 April.
The 2017 Polish champions get a ticket as hosts to the 2017 FIVB Club World Championship, 11-17 December. Asian champions Sarmayeh Bank and South American champions Sada Cruzeiro Contagem have already claimed their tickets, as will the winners of the European Champions League, on 30 April in Rome. Two more berths will be filled by the champion clubs of the top two countries in the FIVB World Rankings and a futher two wild cards will be awarded.
Argentina final locked in 1-1 tie
Personal Bolivar and UPCN San Juan won a match each in the best-of-five final series of the Argentine League this week, both in San Carlos de Bolivar.
Defending champions Bolivar clinched the first tie 3-1 (15-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-18) on the back of 25 points from Australia's Thomas Edgar.
But his 22 points in the second game two days later were not enough, as UPCN bounced back for a 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 27-25) sweep, with 13 points from captain Javier Filardi and 12 each from Nicolas Lazo and Bulgaria's Nikolay Uchikov, that cancelled out Bolivar's home advantage.
The series moves to San Juan for the next two matches, on 13 and 15 April. A fifth match, if needed, will be back in San Carlos.
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