The business end of the European volleyball season is in full swing, bringing with it glory and heartbreak for teams challenging for titles around the continent.
In Italy, Paola Egonu misfired as Imoco Volley Conegliano edged into the lead over Igor Volley Novara in the first round of the Italian Serie A1 Scudetto Finals.
The clash between two sides, who will also meet in the CEV Champions League final on May 18, was billed as the ‘infinity war’ but the first match in the best-of-five series proved a one-sided affair as the visitors claimed a 3-0 victory.
De Kruif outshines Egonu
Defending champions Conegliano were dominant throughout, with Robin de Kruijf emerging as the MVP for her 14 points and 80 per cent attack success rate.
Novara’s shining light Paola Egonu equalled De Kruijf’s point haul but committed six errors in the process as she suffered a rare bad day at the office.
It was only in the third and final set that the hosts took the lead for the first time, and that lead was quickly overturned to produce a final scorecard that read 15-25, 20-25, 15-25 as Conegliano drew first blood.
Daniele Santarelli’s women can look forward to back-to-back home games on Saturday May 4 and Monday May 6 as they look to wrap up the Scudetto.
Seven up for Olympiacos
Across the continent, Olympiacos Piraeus strengthened their stranglehold on Greek women’s volleyball by clinching a seventh consecutive national league title and wrapping up a league and cup double in the process.
A 3-0 victory over Pannaxiakos saw Konstantina Vlachaki emerge as Olympiacos’ top scorer with 17, while Gina Lambrusi contributed 13 points towards her side’s 30th consecutive win.
Following the match, Olympiacos team captain and setter Styliani Christodolou was named the league’s MVP and she paid tribute to two of her injured team-mates who missed out on a glorious night.
A ‘perfect’ ending
“First of all, I would like to congratulate Pannaxiakos on their fabulous season,” said Christodolou.
“The season ended in a perfect way for us and we are very happy that we won the championship and the Greek Cup.
“I would like to dedicate the title to our injured players, Saskia Hippe and Aikaterina Giota.”