Imoco Volley win Champions League dress rehearsal

Imoco Volley Conegliano laid down a marker ahead of the CEV Women’s Champions League final on May 18 by beating opponents Igor Gorgonzola 3-0 in the best-of-five final to be crowned champions of Italy.

USA’s Kim Hill and Karsta Lowe were among the star performers for Conegliano as they swept the Serie A 1 play-offs with a 3-2 win (25-16,23-25,25-11,20-25,15-13) in the third match on Monday evening. It was the third domestic title in their history and their second in succession.

“It is a beautiful emotion, after a painful and not particularly beautiful race,” said Daniele Santarelli, Imoco Volley’s coach. “[We played] two extraordinary sets and two very badly before a tie-break that we won despite not being at our best. A decline in concentration now for the Champions League? Not at all – we will be at our best.”

Next stop – Berlin!

Both teams now travel to Berlin where they meet again in two weeks’ time in the final of the Champions League. Both sides beat heavyweight Turkish opposition in the semi-finals, with Conegliano seeing off Fenerbahce comfortably with two 3-0 wins, while Igor Gorgonzola required a golden set to defeat Jordan Larson’s Vakifbank Istanbul.

Serie A 1’s domination of this year’s Champions League demonstrates further progress for Italian volleyball after their achievement of reaching the final of the World Championship in Japan last October. Igor Gorgonzola’s Paola Ogonu was top scorer with 324 points.

Focus switches to busy summer

Italy are defending champions at next week’s Montreux Masters in Switzerland but are expected to send a youthful squad due to many of their senior players featuring in the Champions League final and the Volleyball Nations League, which follows just three days later.

Imoco’s middle blockers Anna Danesi and Raphaela Folie, libero Monica De Gennaro and outside hitter Miriam Sylla are all in the Italian VNL squad as are Igor Gorgonzola’s middle blocker Cristina Chirichella and opposite Paola Ogonu.

Italy’s VNL Pool 1 campaign includes match-ups with hosts Poland, Thailand and Germany, starting on May 21 in Opole.