F I V B  FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE VOLLEYBALL
PRESS RELEASE 08.07.2003

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Russia outfoils Italy in an electrifying tiebreaker

Madrid, Spain, July 8, 2003 – Russia wore down and ultimately outfoiled Italy in the closing minutes of an electrifying five-setter to take a step closer to defending their title in the FIVB’s $15 million World League on Tuesday here at the Palacio Vistalegre. The result was Volleyball poetry with Italy writing the first verse, filled with elegant combinations and artistry that signaled they are on the road back to world dominance and undeterred by the might of the Russian colossus. ”It was a good match and a good fight,” said Italian captain Andrea Giani, playing his record-breaking 419th match with the Italian team. “We just made more mistakes and we are not happy with the result.” However Giani celebrated in style emerging with 21 points as top scorer. The Italians succeeded in dominating the opening set, racing away in the middle to a five point lead. It was a true team effort and the chemistry served them well as they sealed the first set 25-20 and had the Russians on the run. But in the opening phase of set two, Russia quickly capitalized on a lapse of concentration and snatched an early lead. The result was a swift reversal of fortunes with Russia taking the second set 25-20. The Italian block held up well in the face of the massive Russians, and some elegant moves by experienced Italians of the caliber of Alexander Fei, Samuel Papi and Giani gave Italy a 23-18 lead and ultimately a 25-19 third set for a 2-1 lead. It was Fei who opened for the Italians in the fourth, but the star-studded Russian side responded with a four-point advantage using 208cm Sergey Baranov, Andrei Egortshev and Pavel Abramov to stay in front. At 18-14 they had the tiebreaker in their sights and their defense had kicked in well. An ace by Semen Poltavsky gave the Russians set point. Italy held off only to have Papi smash into the net and force the fifth set, which after a tough struggle, leveled at 13-all but finally went 15-13 to Russia. ”It was a hard match for us and we knew that the Italians are much better this year than last,” said Abromov of the victory. Russian coach Guennadi Chipouline said his players had performed under their capacity and they would now have to prepare for their next encounter against Brazil on Wednesday. Brazil recovered from a first set shock to down Bulgaria 3-1 and in the first match of the day, a sleepy Serbia and Montenegro aroused themselves from early set slumbers to defeat the Czech Republic 3-0 in a match that was harder than the set score reflected. Hosts Spain face Greece in the closing match on this first day of the finals of this elite annual tournament.


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