Trento, 14 April 2024

Itas Trentino-Mint Vero Volley Monza 2-3, the match report

Chronicle of game 5. Itas Trentino returns in front of its home crowd, now with Riccardo Sbertoli on the bench; the setter reasonably has limited minutes in his legs, so Acquarone starts again as setter, with Rychlicki as opposite, Michieletto and Lavia in area 4, Kozamernik and Podrascanin in the middle, and Laurenzano as libero. Mint Vero Volley responded with the three-spiker module: Kreling as setter, Loeppky as opposite, Maar and Takahashi in area 4, Galassi and Di Martino in the middle, and Gaggini as libero. The start was in favour of the guests (0-3 and 1-6), with the Gialloblù immediately struggling in the side-out phase against an opponent that was very attentive in defence and incisive on the serve. Soli immediately interrupted the game and at resumption it was Rychlicki who tried to lead the charge (7-9), but soon afterwards it was Galassi who widened the gap again (7-11). An error by Michieletto again gave Monza a +5 lead (10-15) and then Trento’s coach threw Sbertoli into the fray (on his return, a double change with Nelli). His entrance, however, failed to provide the desired shock, rather Mint ran away more and more confidently with their serve and counter-attack (12-19), quickly closing the opening partial (14-22 and 18-25).
Itas Trentino tried to turn the page after the change of court; Michieletto inspired the breakaway attempt (5-3 and 6-4), which was, however, immediately taken up by Takahashi (8-8). Alessandro's serve scored again (12-10), but Loeppky immediately replied (12-13, time out by Soli). At resumption, it was again the guests who scored on break points (14-16 and 15-18) with the Canadian hammer unleashed; Trento faltered but did not give up, and with Lavia clinched parity at 18. The battle becomes very close (21-20 and 21-22); Monza scores +2 with Maar in pipe (22-24) and goes to 2-0 at the first opportunity with the ace by the same attacker.
Vero Volley's dominance also continued in the early part of the third set, in which Eccheli's team got off to a flying start (2-5 and 5-10) with Kreling doing a great job of clearing his team and capitalising on the many defences provided by the second line. With a 5-0 run and with Acquarone on serve, Itas Trentino got back on track, taking advantage of Kozamernik's block and Loeppky's errors (10-10), and then overtook Monza with an attack by the same Slovenian middle blocker (13-12). Monza gets nervous, with Maar conceding +2 (another error for 16-14), but finds new parity at 19 thanks to Loeppky. It goes again to the sprint, but in this case, it is the tricolour players who get the better of it, taking advantage of an invasion by Maar (23-21) and a serve error by Loeppky (25-23).
The point-to-point battle resumed in the next set, in which Mint tried to break away with Takahashi and Di Martino at 7-10. Kozamernik blocked the same Japanese and brought his team back in close contact (12-13). With Rychlicki on serve, the Italian champions tied the score at 15-15 (Michieletto's block) and then put the arrow in thanks to Kamil himself (16-15) and an ace helped by Kozamernik's tape (18-16). The guests retaliated with Takahashi (19-19), but Michieletto was not satisfied and from area 2 ensured another breakthrough (21-19, time out by Eccheli). The guests set up a 0-3 run (21-22), but it did not knock Trento out: Kozamernik turned the tide (block on Maar for 24-23), and the second chance led to the tie break: newcomer Sbertoli defended and Lavia scored 26-24.
In the fifth set it was once again Mint who created the first break (4-6) with Maar, but Lavia levelled the score with an ace immediately afterwards (7-7). Another point serve by the calabrese player sent the two teams to the change of court at 8-7. Monza holds on and overturns the situation again with Loeppky (11-13), getting two match points: Trento cancels both of them (14-14, Rychlicki's block on Takahashi) and then another one (15-15). The fourth is the decisive one: the Japanese player himself scores it (15-17).

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