An amazing Akademia Città Di Messina beats CbF Balducci Hr in three sets and reaches the semi-final of the Italian Cup


By John

Cbf Balducci HR Macerata – Akademia Città di Messina: 0-3 (21-25, 25-27, 20-25)

Cbf Balducci HR Macerata: Bresciani (L) 0, Vittorini 7, Bolzonetti 0, Masciullo none, Morandini none, Bonelli 1, Mazzon 10, Quarchioni (L) none, Busolini none, Kohronen none, Fiesoli 11, Civitico 11, Stroppa 5. All. Saja, Ass. Carancini.
City of Messina: Battista 16, Martinelli 7, Catania none, Ciancio 0, Modestino 14, Felappi (L) none, Mearini none, Payne 17, Joly 0, Rossetto 8, Maggipinto (L) 0, Galletti 0, Michelini none. All. Bonafede, Ass. Ferrara.
Referees: Ruggero Lorenzin and Antonio Testa
Duration set: 25′, 27′, 24′
MVP: Valeria Battista (Akademia City of Messina)

In the single match of the quarterfinals of the Italian Cup, the girls coached by coach Bonafede beat the team from the Marche, leaders of group B of the A2 championship, and entered the next round of the prestigious national competition. On January 24th they will challenge the Futura Giovani Busto Arsizio in their own den of the “PalaRescifina”. Coach Fabio Bonafede: “The girls are all starters. This spirit has brought us this far and third place in the championship.”

With a superb performance, Akademia Città Di Messina conquers the “Banca Forum” in Macerata, overcoming the hosts Cbf Balducci Hr in three sets and entering the semi-final of the Italian Cup on January 24th at the “PalaRescifina”.

After the almost two hours of competition offered in the winning home tie-break last Sunday against Brescia, the team from Messina showed off a performance of the highest level both physically and mentally, on the field of the leaders of group B of the championship, managing to respond effectively to the Marche offensives thanks to an excellent game organization based on the wall/defense correlation and timely and incisive counterattacks from their guns. After a balanced start, the Messina team did well to keep the pace of the match high, forcing their opponents to surrender with deadly and decisive accelerations. Emblematic, in this sense, was the closing of the advantage in the second set, after having suffered a set-point and having reversed the situation.

In the starting six, for the hosts Cbf Balducci Hr Macerata, coach Saja relies on Bonelli as director, his opposite Stroppa, central defenders Civitico and Mazzon, place 4 Vittorini and Fiesoli, libero Bresciani; for Messina coach Bonafede deploys Galletti as director, opposite Payne, central defenders Martinelli and Modestino, place 4 Joly and Battista, libero Maggipinto. Both teams starting in P4.

In the first set, a mini-break immediately for Messina, in the turn serving by Martinelli, with a diagonal and a touch out by Payne (0-2). Effective service on both fronts; Civitico scores an ace, while Battista shoots out a pipe. Bonafede calls the first time-out (5-3). Upon returning to the field, Messina recovers the deficit (extraordinary along the line by Battista), but two errors by Joly and Payne and the winning attack by Civitico put Macerata back in the lead (9-6). Coach Bonafede brings out Joly and throws Rossetto onto the pitch. The guests make mistakes again and Macerata extends (11-7). The first long rally of the match was brought home by Messina with a block by Martinelli who replied a few moments later in the first half by Civitico (11-9). Macerata feels Messina breathing down their necks and Stroppa makes a mistake (11-10). Fiesoli takes advantage of the blocking hands in the offensive phase and obtains the double advantage again (13-11). Modestino passes in fast but Rossetto finishes a lob support badly (14-12). Vittorini misses the serve and the tie materializes in the following action again with Modestino (14-14). Messina raises the level of the defense with a tight second line, Payne first passes through the pipe and then lands an ace (16-17). We proceed point by point; Captain Martinelli breaks the balance in attack and then blocks to overtake Messina. Rossetto gives the double advantage (19-21); coach Saja calls a time-out, but when Martinelli returns to the field again, Payne and Modestino hit and sink to close the set (21-25). Best scorer of the first set was Payne with 6, behind Modestino and Martinelli with 5. 11 errors for Macerata, 3 for Messina.

In the second set, the sextet confirmed for coach Saja, Bonafede leaves Rossetto on the pitch in place of Joly. Balanced start and another block from Martinelli in the match (7-7). Moment of confusion for Messina, Macerata takes advantage of it by achieving a three-point break (10-7) with Civitico, Fiesoli and Stroppa; coach Bonafede calls time-out. Messina shakes up: Rossetto and Modestino shorten, Battista doubly in attack (the second of the two consecutive points is the result of a narrow diagonal of great thickness) overtakes (11-12). The guests resume their march: an ace from Rossetto arrives and a “series” to be reviewed several times from Battista (13-16). Payne returns to have his name recorded on the scoresheet. At 16-19, long rally decided by Rossetto after a strenuous defense from the Marche (16-20). The guests suffer in reception and Bonafede sends Ciancio in for Battista. Heart-pounding final part with long rallies and acrobatic defences. Messina earns two set balls with Payne and Battista, Macerata impacts with Vittorini and Mazzon (24-24). Stroppa overtakes, but Payne, an error by Vittorini and Payne’s closure from place 4 again, also give the second set to Messina (25-27). Best scorer Payne with 13 points, Modestino and Battista follow on 10. Macerata made 15 errors in the match, 8 for Messina.

In the third set, the previous sextets were confirmed for the two coaches. After the usual point-to-point start, Messina took the lead thanks to two winning attacks by Payne and Battista and a couple of errors by Macerata with Vittorini and Stroppa (5-8). Macerata finds the strength to react, recovers the disadvantage again and above all with Stroppa (3) and Fiesoli (2), but Messina does not give up: Payne, Battista and Modestino rise to heights, Bonelli makes a mistake, Battista in attack and Modestino on the block place the +2 for guests (12-14). The second part of the set is entirely Messina-style: the offensive line of fire with Payne, Battista and Modestino works, the defensive one continues to contain Macerata in a commendable way with Maggipinto attentive to every phase of the game and Bonafede’s girls fly at +5 (14-19). Coach Saja inserts Bolzonetti for Vittorini but the attempt to recover ends with Civitico and Fiesoli reducing the deficit to -3. Coach Bonafede plays the Ciancio card for Battista. Payne, Modestino and a block from Rossetto keep Macerata at a distance (19-23). Battista returns and the athlete from Bergamo responds by sending the Messina team to one point of the match (20-24). Bolzonetti’s error gives Messina qualification (20-25). Best scorer of the match was Payne with 17 points, followed by Battista (MVP of the match) with 16, Modestino with 14. Macerata made 21 total errors compared to Messina’s 15.

Post-match, coach Fabio Bonafede’s statements: “First of all, I must congratulate Macerata because it was a good level match. We have characteristics that concern the compactness of the group: we focus on that and on everyone’s ownership. This spirit has brought us this far and third in our championship group. We always try to make an interesting block/defense, even if we don’t always succeed at the moment. But that is our trademark.” In decisive moments, especially at the end of the sets, he always pushed himself hard both in blocking and in attack. This made the difference in the closure of the partials: “It’s a question of DNA. Whether we win or lose, I want the girls to have this attitude and not fear the decisive point because we train to play them. Tonight went well and we are happy.”