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Italy beat China in World Championship dress rehearsal

Ivan Zaytsev spikes against China
Siena, Italy, September 7, 2018 – 3,600 spectators saw the dress rehearsal of co-hosts Italy on the eve of the 2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship. The squad’s last friendly before the season’s most important tournament took place in Siena and ended up in a four-set home victory over China.

The Italians lost the first set narrowly in overtime, but then improved their teamwork on the court to emerge with a 3-1 (27-29, 25-18, 25-21, 25-21) win.

Opposite and captain Ivan Zaytsev was the best scorer of the match, contributing 16 points to Italy’s success. Outside hitters Filippo Lanza and Osmany Juantorena added 14 and 13, respectively. China’s opposite Chuan Jiang was his side’s most prolific player scoring 12 points.

China surprised us a bit in the beginning, but I like how the guys stayed focused, put the race on the right track and won deservedly,” Italy’s coach Gianlorenzo Blengini commented. “Beyond the victory, which in general is always a pleasure, we have seen both good things and things to improve. China are a classy team and also contributed to the high level of the game. We are all focused on our goal, aware of the difficulties ahead of us. It will be a long tournament, with a lot of pitfalls, but it is a World Championship and it would be strange if it were not.”

"Tonight I saw good things, but we all know that there is always the possibility to improve. I think that sailing into the World Championship with a bit of wind in our backs will not hurt us,” Italian setter Simone Giannelli added. “We all have our feet firm on the ground and we know what we have to work on, but at the same time we are aware of our value and the value of the shirt we wear. After so many hours spent at the gym we cannot wait to start.”

After their last friendly, the Italian squad travel to Rome, where the opening game of the World Championship will be held. Starting at 19:30 local time on Sunday, September 9, at the Foro Italico, Blengini’s squad will play against Japan in a Pool A match. The remaining games in the pool, which also features the teams of Argentina, Belgium, Dominican Republic and Slovenia, will be played in Florence.

The Chinese team of coach Raul Lozano will start the tournament in Pool B to be played in the Bulgarian city of Ruse, where they will be in the company of Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France and the Netherlands.

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