A brilliant performance by Sylvia Nwakalor saw Il Bisonte of San Casciano, a suburb of Florence, bring down Delta Despar Trentino 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 27-29, 25-21) in the first leg of the Playoffs preliminary round and join Savino Del Bene Scandicci and Bartoccini Fortinfissi Perugia in taking the first step towards advancing to the quarterfinals of the Italian Women's League Playoffs.
The 21-year-old opposite, who was named MVP of the match, scored 32 points, all from kills from 55 swings (for a 58% attacking efficiency), to counter the 24 points bagged by Vittoria Piani for Trentino.
In Bergamo, Poland's Magdalena Stysiak scored 15 points in Scandicci's 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-23) over the local side of Zanetti. USA's Khalia Lanier shared top-scoring honours with Stysiak, bringing in 15 for Bergamo. Mina Popovic, who had two blocks and attacked for 71% (5/7) was named MVP of the match.
It was the only away win of the round, setting up Scandicci nicely ahead of the return leg on Wednesday.
In the other match of the weekend, Perugia dominated Bosca S. Bernardo Cuneo 3-1 (27-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-17) on the back of 20 points by Serena Ortolani who picked up the MVP of the match award - though it was Cuneo's Adelina Ungureanu of Romania who finished with the match high of 22.
In this round, three ranking points are awarded to teams winning 3-0 or 3-1, two points to a team winning 3-2 and one point to a team losing 3-2. In case of a tie after the return legs on Wednesday, a 'Golden Set' to 15 points will be played to determine the team advancing to the quarterfinals.
Both matches of the preliminary round series between Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri and VBC Epiu Casalmaggiore have been postponed due to a number of Covid-19 tests returned positive from within the latter. New dates for the two matches have not yet been confirmed.
The best-of-three quarterfinal series are set to begin on 28 March.
The top four teams of the Regular Season, Imoco Volley Conegliano, Igor Gorgonzola Novara, Saugella Monza and Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio have all qualified directly to the quarterfinals.
Full details of the competition on the official website of the Italian Women's League.