Super Lega 2021 - News

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A face-to-face clash between Ran Takahashi and Yuji Nishida, who are teammates in Japan’s national team but rivals in the Italian men’s league, will highlight the SuperLega Credem Banca weekend as their club sides engage in a direct battle for survival in the country's top division.

Takahashi’s Kioene Padova host Nishida’s Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia on Sunday at 18:00 local time in one of this week’s six fixtures, with all the action available live and on demand on Volleyball TV.

Both 22-year-old opposite Nishida and 20-year-old outside hitter Takahashi were key players for Japan last summer - they combined on the same side of the net at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. Sunday's encounter will be the first when they face each other across the net as opponents.

When Tonno Callipo and Kioene met in Vibo Valentia on December 11, during the first half of the Italian club season, neither of the two Japanese stars participated in the five-set victory for Padova. Nishida was out recovering from an injury, while Takahashi had not yet joined his new team.

For both Takahashi and Nishida, it is the first season they play in the Italian league and they now both have to cope with the threat of relegation. Ahead of Sunday’s important game, Padova are in the red zone, in 12th place, just below the cut-off line. They are on an 8-14 win-loss record and 21 points, one point below Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia, who are in 11th place on 22 points and a 7-15 record.

Should Kioene lose Sunday’s game, they could well drop down into the second division next season. If they win, however, that would tighten the race for survival even further. With only two rounds to go, as many as five teams are squeezed into a three-point range between positions 8 and 12 in the standings, and none of those teams can feel safe. It's exciting that they all still have a shot at the last remaining vacancy in the quarterfinal playoffs too, which sets the stage for a fascinating end to the regular season.

“The pressure is felt. Let's recharge the batteries and we will sell our skin dearly against Vibo.” Jacopo Cuttini, head coach of Kioene Padua
“We will arrive in Padua energised and motivated. If we play as a team and are convinced of our potential, we can do it!” Marco Rizzo, libero of Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia
  • Watch all the matches of the Italian men's and women's top-division leagues live or on demand on Volleyball TV.