Fukuoka, Japan, November 14, 2009 – In the battle of the two unbeaten teams at the FIVB Women’s World Grand Champions Cup 2009, Italy disposed of an error-prone Brazil 25-21, 25-23, 25-21 at Marine Messe in Fukuoka.
Italy had three players in double figures – Serena Ortolani and Antonella Del Core both collecting 13 points, with Simona Gioli contributing 10 – while Brazil could only manage one: Sheilla Castro with 15 points.
Olympic champions Brazil edged into an early lead against the European champions, but it was hard to separate the two teams. Italy fought back and had a one-point lead at the first technical timeout. Brazilian coach Ze Roberto didn't look happy as his team fell three points behind. Errors then kept Brazil behind. But at 19-15, Sheilla finally landed a big spike and that seemed to restore Brazil's confidence. The Brazilians closed to 21-20 – largely through Sheilla – and again to 22-21 before Sheilla plunked a serve into the net to put Italy two points ahead at 23-21. Natalia failed to handle a Lucia Bosetti serve, giving the Europeans champions setpoint, and Francesca Piccinini then forced a shot through the Brazilian block to clinch the set.
After falling behind 4-1 in the second set, Ze Roberto brought in Dani Lins for setter Ana Tiemi, but a slick reverse tipover by Eleonora Lo Bianco gave Italy an 8-4 advantage at the first TTO. A neat tipover by Dani Lins brought the scores to 8-7 and the Brazilians were level when the Italians misjudged a Brazilian return that fell in. Three huge blocks – del Core on Sheilla, Ortolani on Natalia and Gioli on Adenizia – then helped Italy into a 16-10 lead. Sheilla tried to lead Brazil back with spikes, a tipover and a block. Successive spikes by Adenizia were followed by a Lo Bianco error and the two teams were level, first at 22, then at 23. Piccinini then spiked Italy to setpoint and a service by Bosetti fell into space to put Italy two sets up.
Brazil flip-flopped between doing really good things and really sloppy things at the start of the third set. Italy tracked them all the way with Ortolani in the thick of things. It was all-square at 9-9 when Del Core plunked a serve into the net to put the Brazilians in front. An ace by Adenizia and two huge raps by Natalia allowed Brazil the comfort of a three-point lead and they carried this through to the second TTO. It didn't last. Dani Lins netted a serve, Del Core spiked and the Brazilians failed to deal with a serve by Lo Bianco and it was 16-16 – then 17-17 and 18-18. It was then back to the drawing board again for Brazil as three spiking errors in four points by Natalia allowed Italy to gain a five-point advantage at 23-18. A long spike by Sheilla handed Italy matchpoint and a block by Simona Gioli on Paula gave Italy its most precious scalp of the tournament.