The fans in the packed Eurosole Forum left the match against Itas Trentino tonight joyful as their club, Cucine Lube Civitanova, made the historic comeback from 0-2 to 3-2 in the semi-final series of the 2021/22 Italian Men’s Volleyball Championship and moved to the playoff finals.
Lube (2nd-seed) completed a dream comeback in the semi-final series (which they played without Osmany Juantorena) of the 2021/22 SuperLega Credem Banca against No.3 Trentino and ensured participation in the fifth consecutive championship final. Led by Cuban Robertlandy Simón (20 points; 5 blocks and 4 aces), who had 73% attack (11/15), the red-and-whites prevailed over Trentino in five sets of Game 5 with very high competitive content, coming back twice – from 0-1 and 1-2.
The key moment occurred before the 4th set when Lube’s head coach Gianlorenzo Blengini chose to leave underperforming Ivan Zaytsev on the bench and send Puerto Rican-American Gabriel García ’Gabi’, who inserted the necessary dose of stamina in the play, in. Lube, the reigning Italian champions, will thus be able to defend the title against their long-time rivals, Sir Safety Conad Perugia.
The regular-season winners Perugia lost the first set but then overtook No.4 Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena in Game 5 of their semis. Tonight, for the first time in the series, the home team defended the advantage of playing in front of its own crowd. Perugia earned participation in the championship final for the fourth time in a row (all against Lube) in a soldout PalaBarton.
Modena couldn’t count on injured Cuban-Brazilian Yoandy Leal, without whom Andrea Giani’s team failed to find the continuity it had shown in previous matches in the series, not resisting the growth of the ’Block Devils’ that started in the second set. American Matthew Anderson dragged Perugia to a win with 21 points (74% attack; 20/27). Cuban-Polish Wilfredo León served 6 aces, while Argentine Sebastian Solé had 4 blocks.
2021/22 SuperLega Credem Banca – playoff semi-finals, Game 5: