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World stars thrill as club leagues enter final stretch

Filippo Lanza jousts with Milan's Riccardo Sbertoli and Luka Basic as Perugia lose, but finish top of the Italian Superleague Regular Season for pole position in the Playoffs.
Lausanne, Switzerland, March 25, 2019 - The world's volleyball superstars thrilled fans across the globe once again midweek and over the weekend, as domestic and international club leagues enter the final stretch ahead of the National Teams season picking up in May, starting with the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Sir Safety Conad Perugia took the point they needed in their 3-2 (16-25, 25-22, 18-25, 25-19, 15-10) defeat to Revivre Axopower Milan to finish first in the Regular Season of the Italian Superleague. Cuba-born Wilfredo Leon was top scorer of the game with 21 points for Perugia, with France's Trevor Clevenot leading the winners with 17.

Itas Trentino beat Vero Volley Monza 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18) on the closing day of the Regular Season, powered by Luca Vettori's 27 points, but finished second in the standings.

The Playoffs in Italy begin on 30 March, with Azimut Leo Shoes Modena taking on Milan in the opening match of the quarterfinals. The following day Perugia clash with Monza, Trentino host Kioene Padova and Cucine Lube Civitanova entertain Calzedonia Verona.

• Regular Season leaders Sesi Sao Paulo opened their Brazilian Superleague Playoffs campaign with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-19) win over Volei UM Itapetininga in the quarterfinals, powered by 14 points from Lucas Loh and 13 from Alan Souza.
• But defending champions Sada Cruzeiro struggled against Copel Telecom Maringa Volei, as USA's Talyor Sander scored 27 points and led the Contagem side to a 3-2 (21-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-27, 17-15) win at home.
• Midweek, it had taken defending European champions Zenit Kazan a Golden Set to advance to the semifinals of the Champions League, after a 3-2 (25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 27-29, 17-15) defeat at home to Trefl Gdansk. Russia's Maxim Mikhaylov scored 22 points and USA's Matt Anderson added 21 for Kazan, to counter the 26 by Maciej Muzaj for Gdansk in the regular match, before the Russians prevailed 15-12 in the Golden Set.
• It was down to a Golden Set as well for PGE Skra Belchatow, afer they lost their return quartefinal leg 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 25-20, 25-20) in Russia to Zenit Saint Petersburg. Germany's Gyorgy Grozer was top scorer of the game with 28 points for Saint Petrsburg, but Poland's Jakub Kochanowski led Skra with 18 in the regular match. Skra went on to take the Golden Set 15-11 for a ticket to the semifinals.
• In the other quarterfinals Leon led Perugia with 16 points in their 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-17) sweep of Chaumont VB 52 HM and Yoandy Leal also scored 16 in Cucine Lube Civitanova's 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-21) win over Dinamo Moscow.
• Trentino have the advantage over Galatasaray Istanbul in the final of the second-tier European CEV Cup, after Vettori and Serbia's Uros Kovacevic scored 12 points each in their 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-20). The return leg is this week in Turkey.
• With an impressive 27 points each from the Czech Republic's Donovan Dzavoronok and the Ukraine's Oleh Plotnytskyi, Monza just managed to edge Beogorie Belgorod 3-2 (29-27, 22-25, 25-23, 32-34, 15-12) in the first leg of the third-tier European Challenge Cup final. The return leg is this week in Russia.

• In women's action, Serbia's Tijana Boskovic was named MVP of the game as she scored 23 points and led Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul to their first title of the year with a 3-1 (23-25,25-17,25-22,25-20) win over crosstown rivals Fenerbahce Opet in the final of the Turkish Cup.
• USA's Nicole Fawcett (14 points), Fe Garay (12) and Carol Silva (10) all scored in double digits to see Dentil Praia Clube of Uberlandia sweep Fluminense 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-21) in Rio and come within one win of a berth in the semifinals of the Brazilian Superleague Playoffs.
• Itambe / Minas Tenis Clube have also extended their lead to 2-0 in the best-of-five quarterfinals of the Superleague with a 3-1 (25-14, 25-20, 20-25, 25-11) win at home in Belo Horizonte over Curitiba Volei, after Natalia Pereira scored 22 points.
• Midweek, USA's Kim Hill scored 25 points and her fellow-American Karsta Lowe added 19 as Imoco Volley Conegliano sent Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul crashing out of the European Champions League with a 3-1 (25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21) away win followed by a 15-10 Golden Set in the second leg of the quartefinals.
• Defending European champions VakifBank Istanbul were led by the Netherlands' Lonneke Sloetjes (19 points) and China's Zhu Ting (17) in their 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-8) sweep of Dinamo Moscow for a ticket to the semifinals of the Champions League.
• With 18 points from Italy's Paola Egonu and 16 from USA's Michelle Bartsch, Igor Gorgonzola Novara got the two sets they needed against Allianz MTV Stutggart before going on to win the match 3-2 (25-14, 25-22, 16-25, 18-25, 16-14).
• And Fenerbahce made up the numbers for the Champions League semifinals after a 3-2 (19-25, 26-28, 25-22, 25-17, 15-8) comeback win over Savino Del Bene Scandicci, inspired by 35 points from Cuba's Melissa Vargas.
• Yamamay e-work Bust Arsizio secured a 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-14) away win over CSM Volei Alba Blaj in the first leg of Europe's second-tier CEV Cup final, with 13 points from Italy's Alessia Gennari and 12 from Belgium's Britt Herbots. The return leg is this week in Italy.
• USA's Rachel Adams with 13 points and Italy's Serena Ortolani with 12 led Saugella Monza to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-17) sweep of Aydin BBSK in Turkey, which gives them the advantage when the two meet again this week in the return leg of the European third-tier Challenge Cup final.

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