Domestic leagues nearing home straight


Serena Ortolani and Jenny Barazza of Imoco Volley Conegliano block Jelena Nikolic of Metalleghe Montichiari in the Italian A1 League.

Lausanne, Switzerland, February 26, 2017 - The gap at the top of the table widened in the Italian women's A1 League, after Imoco Volley Conegliano shut out Metalleghe Montichiari 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 26-24) and Pomi Casalmaggiore were upset at home 3-1 (15-25, 25-18, 31-29, 25-22) by Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena.

Serena Ortolani was named MVP of the game at the PalaVerde as she led Conegliano to the win that sees them extend their lead over Pomi to ten points, with three rounds remaining until the end of the Regular Season.

At the PalaRadi Serbia's Jovana Stevanovic emerged top scored of the game with 16 points (of which five were blocks) for Pomi, but Modena proved just that little bit better in reception and attack as Ilaria Grazaro score 15 points to reach victory.

VakifBank unstoppable in Turkey
And in Turkey VakifBank Istanbul, riding on the momentum of huge wins over crosstown arch rivals Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul in the domestic league and the European Champions League last week, defeated Idman Ocagi 3-0 (26-24, 25-15, 25-21) in Trabzon to retain their wide lead at the top of the standings.

With Rio 2016 Olympics MVP Zhu Ting of China and Milena Rasic of Serbia sitting the match out, it was USA's Kim Hill who led the VakifBank assault with 16 points (including 3 aces) as Lonneke Sloetjes of the Netherlands added another 14 and Ozgenur Yurtagulen got in five stuffs.

Eczacibasi, however, rebounded after the shock of their back-to-back defeats to VakifBank with a 3-1 (18-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-16) win over Galatasaray Istanbul. Tijana Boskovic of Serbia was Eczacibasi's driving force with 26 points, incuding four aces and four blocks.

Ecazacibasi remain in third place. As the fourth Istanbul side in the league, Fenerbahce, survived five sets in their 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-9, 15-13) win at home over Halkbank Ankara. Brazil's Natalia Pereira, who was the only player to start in all five sets, saved the day for Fenerbahce with 22 points.

Krasnoyarsk shock Krasnodar in Russia
And in Russia Yenisei Krasnoyarsk have one foot in the semifinals of the Superleague, after Anastasiya Garelik scored 20 points and Mariya Frolova another 19 to lead them to an away win 3-1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 26-23) over Dinamo Krasnodar in the first match of their best-of-three quarterfinal series. Nataliya Malykh did her best to keep the home side in the game, but her 30 points proved too few.

Rexona Sesc Rio on track in Brazil
In Carnival atmosphere, Rexona Sesc Rio de Janeiro picked up from where they left off (to win the South American Club Championship and claim a ticket to the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship), as they returned to the Brazilian Superleague with a 3-0 (25-20, 27-25, 31-29) sweep of Terracap BRB Brasilia. Anne Buijs of the Netherlands, who shared top-scoring honours with Juciely Barreto on 14 points each, picked up the MVP award of the game as she led the Rio side.

But the South American Club Championship finalist of last week, Dentil Praia Clube of Uberlandia, continued on their downward spiral, losing 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-22) at the Jose Liberatti to Volei Nestle of Osasco, who were led by MVP setter Dani Lins and top scorer on 17 points Tandara Caixeta.

With three rounds left to play in the Regular Season, Volei Nestle Osasco are now second (by eight points) only to table leaders Rexona Sesc Rio, leaving Dentil Praia Clube in third place.

Club Worlds entrants switch positions in Japan
In Japan this weekend NEC Red Rockets jumped to the top of the V.Premier League Playoffs standings on a combination of their win 3-1 (25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 25-16) over JT Marvelous and the defeat earlier of Hisamitsu Springs (who dropped to second place) to the same opponent 3-1 (27-29, 29-27, 25-18, 25-22).

Bulgaria's Emiliya Nikolova led NEC Red Rockets to their win with 21 points but Mizuki Tanaka's 24 were no match for Hisamitsu Springs.

Both NEC Red Rockets (as the reigning Asian champions) and Hisamitsu Springs (as hosts) will be playing in the 2007 FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship, 8-14 May in Kobe. They are joined at the Club Worlds by Rexona-Sesc Rio de Janeiro who qualified last week after winning the South American Club Championship. The winner of the European Champions League (22-23 April in Treviso) will also get a ticket to Kobe and the eight-team roster will be completed with the addition of four wild cards.

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