2021 Women

Historic continental crown for Imoco!


Article Sat, May 1 2021

A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano are the new women’s club champions of Europe! For the first time in history, the Italian team snatched the CEV Champions League Volley title after a dramatic five-set victory over four-time winners VakifBank Istanbul. Imoco came back from a set down twice during Saturday’s Super Final at the AGSM Forum in Verona and from a four-point deficit in the tie-breaker to triumph victorious.

A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano (ITA) vs VakifBank Istanbul (TUR)

3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12)


VakifBank showed a little more precision in their game to take the lead in the first set and gradually extended the gap to five points at 19-14. Imoco managed four in a row to get back to within one, but not for long. The Turkish side quickly broke away again and eventually closed the set at 25-22 on a long serve by Raphaela Folie.

The second set started in a similar fashion, with VakifBank opening a small lead and extending it to a four-point gap at 13-9. This time, a four-in-a-row run by Imoco not only levelled the score, but also served as a momentum changer. With Paola Egonu’s attack picking up rhythm, the Italian side took control of the scoreboard. It was a real spiking race between her and Isabelle Haak. Towards the end of the set they even hammered an ace each, but the one by Egonu closed the set at 25-22 Imoco’s way and brought her set tally up to an impressive 11 points (against 10 for Haak).

But it was Haak who kept it up during the next set as well. The Swedish opposite was on fire throughout set three and hammered out 11 points towards VakifBank’s 25-23 edge. During the set, however, they wasted the five-point advantage they had at 11-6 and allowed Imoco to step ahead by two points momentarily at 17-15, but quickly came back to regain the lead and pocket the set.

On two separate occasions during the fourth set, Imoco had a four-point lead. It was eventually wiped out at 21-21 after a spectacular long rally, which finally ended on a successful off-the-block hit by Haak. In a dramatic epilogue, VakifBank even took a 23-22 lead, but the next three points went Imoco’s way. Kimberly Hill’s kill gave her team the set point. Haak helped the opponents with a wide shot for 25-23 to prompt a tie-breaker.

VakifBank stormed into the fifth set with a 4-0 run, but could not hold on to it for long. At 5-5 the balance was restored. With two consecutive break points, a monster block by Robin De Kruijf and a back-row kill by Egonu, Imoco gained a two-point lead just before the side-switch. The Italian opposite held the fire burning throughout the decider and kept pushing to lead her teammates to a quadruple match point. To keep the drama to the max, VakifBank denied the first two and thought they had done so with the third one, but the video challenge saw the ball brush off the tip of Haak’s fingernail to reverse the call, bring Egonu’s fifth set account to an amazing 10 points, and close the set and the game off at 15-12.

Paola Egonu and Monica De Gennaro celebrate the title

Paola Egonu’s formidable tally of 41 points, including an ace and a block, put her on top of the best scorers’ chart of the match. On the other side of the net, Isabelle Haak scored “only” 33 times, also including an ace and a block.

It was Imoco’s fourth Champions League podium, after claiming silver in 2017 and 2019 and bronze in 2018. The team are now club champions of the world, Europe and Italy at the same time. They also hold the Italy Cup and Italy Super Cup trophies.

VakifBank’s showcase in the Champions League now boasts four golds, five silvers and a bronze.

“It was an incredible game between the two best teams in Europe and probably in the world. I’m so happy that after such a long journey, our team finally won this trophy, and I’m so proud of all our girls, our staff, our club and our president. Finally, we did it! I am super happy. I’m speechless, because I still do not believe that it happened...”

Joanna Wolosz
Setter and captain of A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano

“The team that played better today won. We played our match, we put them in trouble, but our best VakifBank was not on the court today. When Conegliano have Egonu, it is difficult to play against them. Our rhythm with the first tempo in the middle was not amazing today and our sideout was too difficult. That was our problem. But it is pretty clear that these are the best two teams of Europe and the best two teams of the world.”

Giovanni Guidetti
Head coach of VakifBank Istanbul