Milan, Italy, September 26, 2010 – The Italian fans did not fail in their job of supporting the hosts in a crowded Mediolanum Forum where Italy overcame Egypt in straight sets (25-20, 25-17, 25-23) in the final Pool A match on Sunday to book a spot in the second round of the FIVB Men’s World Championship 2010.
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Italy, ranked 5th in the world, were in control throughout the match against Egypt, who are ranked nine places lower. Egypt had to come through the knee injury to middle blocker Ahmed El Shikh in the third set and tried to keep pace but lacked a finishing touch as Italy collected their second win of the tournament and their eighth in nine encounters with the African champions.
A serving fault gave Italy the first point of the opening set, Luigi Mastrangelo’s blocking turned out to be crucial from the start, securing important points for Italy, who already led 8-5 at the first Technical Time Out (TTO). Serving faults from both teams went on throughout the set. Egypt required a timeout at 14-10 down before Mohamed Badawy narrowed the gap with some delightful touches down the tramlines but Italy still led 16-15 at the second TTO. Egypt called the second timeout at 19-16 trying to recover but the Italian blocking seemed unbeatable and a Christian Savani block closed the set 25-20.
Egypt’s Rashad Atia scored the first point of the second set but Alessandro Fei did not wait long in responding for the hosts. Mastrangelo continued to collect points at the net and Italy had a 8-4 lead at the first TTO. An Atia ace narrowed the gap, but Italy did not allow their rivals to take the lead, holding a 16-12 advantage at the second TTO. Egypt required a time out when Italy cruised ahead at 18-12 but it was long before Italy’s Simone Parodi hammered a couple of points and through three consecutive blocks, Italy closed the second set 25-17,with Mastrangelo scoring the last.
Fei gave Italy the perfect start in the final set but Egypt stayed within touching distance. It wasn’t until El Shikh got injured that Egypt strated to lose their grip. Mastrangelo continued to be unbeatable at the net keeping Egypt’s traditional scorer Ahmed Abdelhay to only six points and Egypt had to call a time out at 12-7 down. Atia tried to seize the opportunity scoring valuable points for Egypt but Italy did not give up and Italy setter Valerio Vermiglio gave his fundamental contribution with some deft touches when it mattered most. Italy, leading 16-11 at the second TTO, tried to pick up every possible point but Egypt fought their way back incredibly, forcing Italy to request a timeout at 23-22. However, it business resumed as normal as Parodi finally closed the last set 25-23.