Michieletto spikes against Perugia’s three-man block of Leon, Flavio and Rychlicki (source: legavolley.it)

Michieletto spikes against Perugia’s three-man block of Leon, Flavio and Rychlicki (Photo: legavolley.it)

Two of the main protagonists in Italy’s domestic competitions and Europe’s CEV Champions League, Sir Safety Susa Perugia and Trentino Itas will soon get an opportunity to compete at the highest level of club volleyball. The Italian sides will represent Europe at the 2022 edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship, which will take place in Betim, Brazil from December 7 to 11. While Trentino are the most decorated team in the history of the competition, Perugia will be rookies at the tournament.

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Trentino and Perugia will take on the responsibility of defending their continent’s honour at the competition, in their respective roles of Champions League silver and bronze medallists. The two teams met in the continental semifinals back in March and April, exchanging five-set away victories before Trentino claimed a golden set 17-15.

Sir Safety Susa Perugia have retained as many as nine players for the new season and with five new additions and Andrea Anastasi taking on the role of head coach, they have yet to lose a match. They recently won the Supercoppa Italiana and emphatically lead the SuperLega Credem Banca standings on an 8-0 win-loss record, and their Champions League pool on 2-0.

FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship 2022 Most Valuable Player Simone Giannelli stayed on with Perugia this season, as the team’s leading playmaker. He has been joined by the setter of the Slovenian national team, Gregor Ropret, who transferred from France’s Cambrai Volley.

Meanwhile, Kamil Rychlicki from Luxembourg competes with new addition Jesus Herrera of Cuba for the post of opposite in Anastasi’s line-up. Herrera joined Perugia after a couple of seasons with another French club, Chaumont 52 Haute Marne.

Cuban-born Polish star Wilfredo Leon continues to highlight the line-up of outside hitters on Perugia’s roster, in the company of another Cuban, Julio Cardenas, who moved to Italy from yet another French club, Tourcoing Lille Metropole. Polish national team standout, Kamil Semeniuk transferred to Perugia from European champions ZAKSA, while Ukrainian star Oleh Plotnytskyi stayed at Sir as one of the team’s four outsides.

Three of last season’s middle blockers, Argentina’s Sebastian Sole and Italy’s Roberto Russo and Stefano Mengozzi, were joined by Brazilian international Flavio Gualberto, coming in from another Italian club, Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia.

There has been no change in the selection of liberos, with Italians Massimo Colaci and Alessandro Piccinelli still at the club’s disposal.

Trentino, on the other hand, have missed only three editions of the Club World Championships since the competition was relaunched in 2009. It will be their 10th participation in the global event. In their previous nine appearances, they have collected five gold and three bronze medals, missing the podium only in 2014. Out of four matches they played last year, Trentino won three in straight sets and lost only their semifinal to compatriots Cucine Lube Civitanova after a dramatic 21-19 tie-breaker to finish with bronze.

Coach Angelo Lorenzetti’s roster has undergone a few changes, but the starting line-up has, for the most part, remained the same as last season. Trentino Itas’ main six includes three recent world champions with the Italian national team, setter Riccardo Sbertoli and outsides Alessandro Michieletto and Daniele Lavia, as well as Serbia’s distinguished duo of middle blockers Marko Podrascanin and Srecko Lisinac. It is led by Bulgarian star and captain Matey Kaziyski, who switched positions with Lavia to play as an opposite this season.

Italian outside Oreste Cavuto and Belgian middle Wout D'Heer have also stayed on with the club.

Italian opposite Gabriele Nelli, who transferred from Vibo Valentia, and Czech outside Donovan Dzavoronok, who came in from Vero Volley Monza, highlight the list of new additions to Trentino’s roster. The other newcomers are mainly young Italian talents: setter Niccolo Depalma, middle Martin Berger and liberos Domenico Pace and Gabriele Laurenzano.

Playing on Sunday, Perugia mastered a 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 27-25, 25-13) home win over Trentino in the SuperLega Credem Banca, their second victory over this opponent since the start of the season, after a hard-fought five-set Supercoppa semifinal three weeks ago.

Wilfredo Leon topped the scorers’ chart of the match with 20 points, including five blocks and two aces. Gualberto also raised five kill blocks towards a match tally of 13 points. Rychlicki and Semeniuk contributed 16 and 10 points, respectively, to Perugia’s success. Lavia produced 19 points, including four aces, for Trentino, while Michieletto also reached double digits with 13 points.

The two teams lead the current SuperLega standings. Perugia are still undefeated in eight matches and top the chart on 24 points. Trentino are second on 16 points and a 5-4 win-loss record.

Perugia will be up against two Brazilian teams in Pool A of the Club World Championship in Betim. They will play against Volei Renata Campinas on December 8 and against defending champions Sada Cruzeiro Volei on December 9. Meanwhile, in Pool B, Trentino will start against Asian club champions Paykan Tehran of Iran, and then meet Itambe Minas Belo Horizonte of Brazil.