CEV Women's Final Is Set For Imoco, Novara

In the 2018-19 CEV Champions League semifinals, Italy proved itself to be home of the best women’s professional volleyball in Europe. 

On May 18 in Berlin, volleyball fans will see Imoco Volley Conegliano and Igor Gorgonzola Novara, both of Italy’s Serie A1 league, face off in the Champions League Super Final. Both teams eliminated Turkish clubs in the semis.

Watch the 2019 CEV Women’s Champions League Super Final between Imoco Volley Conegliano and Igor Gorgonzola Novara right here on FloVolleyball, May 18 at 9 AM CT. 

Imoco downed Fenerbahce Opet Istanbul in straight sets in both legs of the semifinal. Samanta Fabris, a 27-year-old Croatian hitter, led the team with 37 points in the two matches, while Team USA outside hitter Kim Hill added 16 points. Karsta Lowe, the only other American on Imoco’s roster, did not play in either semifinal leg. 

Although her team was eliminated, Fenerbahce’s Melissa Vargas finished her 2019 Champions League appearance in impressive fashion (especially considering she’s only 19) with 230 points, almost a full 100 points ahead of the next highest scorer (Novara’s Paola Egonu has 144).

Speaking of Egonu, her 69 points in two matches played a massive role in Novara ending VakifBank Istanbul’s hopes of a Champions League repeat. 

Novara won the first leg of the semifinal in dominant fashion, sweeping VakifBank in Istanbul. In fact, until the second leg of the semis, the Italian team had not lost at all in Champions League.

But of course the reigning champs made it interesting. In the second leg, the visiting team defeated Novara in four, and then had a 14-12 lead in the tie-breaking golden set to 15. Novara, however, managed to score four points in a row to earn its spot in the Super Final with a 16-14 victory.

“My girls were amazing, they gave their best and we deserved this result,” Novara head coach Massimo Barbolini said. “Now we have to enjoy this success and promptly focus on the Italian league playoffs, as we have an important game on Saturday already. Being in Berlin is a wonderful opportunity and we will do everything to make the best out of it.”

Egonu’s 69 points in two matches led the team (and the semifinal round overall), while American outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley contributed 30. U.S. National Team member Lauren Carlini set for Novara in both matches and even had three aces in the second leg.

Team USA’s Kelsey Robinson was the third-highest scorer for VakifBank in the semis, totalling nine points.

No matter who wins the Super Final between Imoco and Novara on May 18, the victor will be celebrating its first Champions League title ever.

Imoco has been slowly climbing the Champions League podium, winning bronze in 2017 and silver in 2018. This year, a gold would complete the set for reigning Italian league champion. Novara, on the other hand, has before even made it to the championship match.

Watch the 2019 CEV Women’s Champions League Super Final between Imoco Volley Conegliano and Igor Gorgonzola Novara right here on FloVolleyball, May 18 at 9 AM CT.

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