Chinenyeze

Now a Lube player, Chinenyeze will play against his old Milano teammates

The SuperLega Credem Banca is widely recognised as the best men's domestic league in the world and features many of the leading players in international volleyball. These players have a huge impact on the outcome of the Italian League and this week one of them, French Olympic champion middle blocker Barthélémy Chinenyeze will face Japanese star Yuki Ishikawa and his former Allianz Milano teammates.

This week’s SuperLega Credem Banca match schedule will feature an interesting reunion as French Olympic champion Barthélémy Chinenyeze will face his former team Allianz Milano for the first time after leaving the club at the end of the last season.

Now with defending Italian champions Cucine Lube Civitanova, the 24-year-old Chinenyeze will return to Milan with his new club as they take on the hosts on Sunday, December 4, at 18:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

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Lube are Chinenyeze’s third club in Italy. After playing in his home country and Poland, the middle blocker moved to the SuperLega in 2019 to play for Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia. Then, after two seasons, he signed with Milano.

His single season with Milano was a very productive one as the Frenchman was the team’s third-best scorer (230 points), second-best blocker (54 blocks) and fourth-best offensive player (165 kills), registering his best career stats since he started to play in the country. He also helped the team win bronze in the Italian Cup.

That propelled him to a move to defending champions Lube, another step forward in his career.

“After a solid period with Valentia and another good season with Milano, I’m getting to the place I want to be at,” he said in a recent interview with French newspaper L’Equipe. “It feels like I always wanted to be here, it’s a new challenge and it’s perfect.”

Chinenyeze’s first season with Lube started well, even if the team are currently only fifth in the standings. An Olympic (2021), Volleyball Nations League (2022) and FIVB Volleyball World League (2017) champion with his country’s national team, Chinenyeze is his new club's fourth-best scorer (72 points), leads the team in blocks (nine) and is third in kills (63). He also took silver in the Italian Supercoppa, making his first podium appearance with his new side.

Ishikawa

Ishikawa in action for Milano during the 2022-2023 season

Japanese star outside hitter Yuki Ishikawa will be one of his old teammates who will be on the other side of the court on Sunday. The 26-year-old Asian joined Milano one year before the Chinenyeze, in 2020, and continues to be a key player for the team, which currently ranks sixth in the SuperLega.

During his time with Milano, the Japanese national team captain has led the team to victory at the 2020-2021 CEV Challenge Cup. This season, Ishikawa ranks third in points (87), first in aces (12) and second in passes (35) within Milano’s roster.

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Chinenyeze attempts to stop Ishikawa during the World Championship

Despite their history as teammates, Chinenyeze and Ishikawa are no strangers to facing each other. The French middle blocker and the Japanese outside hitter have met as many as three times while representing their national teams last summer, and Chinenyeze emerged victorious on every occasion, celebrating a pair of wins over his former teammate Ishikawa in two VNL matches and another during their Round of 16 encounter at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship.