Verona stun Modena as Playoffs open in Italy


Libero Andrea Giovi and top scorer Mitar Djuric, with Aidan Zingel in the background, celebrate Calzedonia Verona's win over Azimut Modena in the Italian League Playoffs.

Lausanne, Switzerland, March 5, 2017 - Calzedonia Verona stunned defending champions Azimut Modena 3-1 (25-3, 18-25, 29-27, 30-28) in the only away victory as the Italian men's UnipolSai Superleague Playoffs got under way Sunday night. Verona next host Modena next Thursday in a bid to clinch the best-of-three quarterfinal series.

With Greece's Mitar Djuric scoring 26 points, Verona edged Modena on the net, despite a poorer receiving efficiency. France's Earvin Ngapeth was Modena's best scorer with 24 points (including four blocks).

In other action on the opening day of the quarterfinals, Regular Season leaders Cucine Lube Civitanova destroyed Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-20), led by Bulgaria's Tsvetan Sokolov who scored 18 points and was named MVP of the game.

Elsewhere, the Czech Republic's Jan Stokr scored 16 points and led Diatec Trentino to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-18) sweep of Gi Group Monza and Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia guided Sir Safety Conad Perugia to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-17, 25-18) win over LPR Piacenza with his 16 points.

Sada Cruzeiro return with win
After taking a break to win the South American Club Championship last week, defending champions Sada Cruzeiro Contagem returned to the Brazilian Superleague with a 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 25-19) sweep of Sesi Sao Paulo before 2,200 fans at home in the Riachao.

Led by MVP of the game and top scorer on 14 points Evandro Guerra, Sada Cruzeiro proved too much for Sesi on the net and also took advantage of the visitors' 30 unforced errors to stay firmly in the lead of the standings, now 10 points ahead of second-placed Funvic Taubate.

Taubate leapfrogged over Sesi with their 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-17) away win in Campinas over Brasil Kirin. Lucas Loh and Wallace Souza shared top-scoring honours with 14 points each for Taubate, with Vinicius Santos who came on off the bench in the second set picking up the MVP award.

Zenit secure Playoffs berth in Russia
In Russia's Superleague defending champions Zenit Kazan extended their winning streak with yet another victory, 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23) in Surgut over Gazprom-Yugra. The win sees Zenit mathematically clinch a berth in the Final Six Playoffs, four rounds ahead of the end of the Regular Season.

Wilfredo Leon led Zenit with 20 points, as Maxim Mikhaylov added 17 and USA's Matt Anderson 16, leading Zenit to their 22nd win in as many games in this season's Superleague.

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