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Italy send United States to first defeat

Simona Gioli was a leading player in the Italian attack during their victory over the United States in Nagoya on Sunday

Nagoya, Japan, November 7, 2010 – Italy handed the United States a four-set defeat (25-16, 24-26, 27-25, 27-25) on the second day of second-round Pool F play at Nippon Gaishi Hall on Sunday night.

It took a gritty performance from fourth-ranked Italy to overcome an American squad that had lost only two sets entering the match and is ranked second in the world. The result ended a 17-game winning streak by the USA, who now have a 4-1 win-loss record at this FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship while the Italians are 3-2 in credit.

Serena Ortolani was a pivotal player for Italy, finishing with 23 points, while Simona Gioli and Antonella Del Core added 18 and 15 respectively and Francesca Piccinini contributed 13.

FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page

Destinee Hooker put on another powerful display for the United States but could not lift her team to victory. She finished with a match-high 24 points and Logan Tom charted 15.

Hugh McCutcheon's side had the advantage at the net, scoring with 16 blocks, including six from Heather Bown who totalled 10 points. Italy finished with 10, including four from Valentina Arrighetti.

Italy opened the match by grabbing a 5-1 first-set lead which they had increased to 16-10 by the Second Technical Timeout (STT). Massimo Barbolini's team continued their fine play and closed out the set 25-16 on a nice block.

Early in the second set the Italians scored a fortuitous point when Piccinini had her spike blocked, only to see it rebound off her head and go over the net for a score. However, the Americans then took the initiative, improving their combination play considerably from the first set.

Hooker was proving a force in both attack and defence, and with the USA moving 20-15 in front it appeared that the tide had turned. Italy, though, put together five straight points to restore parity at 20-20.

The European squad then went ahead 22-21 when a Hooker spike was called out, and subsequently had a set point at 24-23, yet the Americans ran off three successive points to prevail 26-24.

The USA also led 16-15 at the STT in the third set, before reeling off four straight points. Italy fought back to equalise at 22-22, however, and the sides then went back and forth before Italy triumphed 27-25.

The fourth set was tight all the way. A Tom block gave the Americans set point at 24-22, yet Italy hung in and tied it 24-24. When the Italians then had a match point at 25-24, Hooker soared again to even it 25-25. Yet Italy earned a second match point at 26-25 and finished it, 27-25.

Following Monday's rest day, the United States will play the Netherlands, while Italy will go up against Thailand.

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