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Italy see off Serbia in straight sets

The Italian wall produced 11 points en route to the straight-sets victory over Serbia

Tokyo, Japan, November 13, 2010 - Italy came away with a 3-0 victory (25-20, 25-15, 25-22) against Serbia in their semifinal match for the 5-8 positions at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday evening. The Italians prevailed over a tough Serbian team who just couldn’t seem to find their rhythm.

Leading the Italian scoring was Simona Gioli with 14 points, while Francesca Piccinini and Valentina Arrighetti added 12 and 11 respectively. Serbia’s top scorer on the day was Milena Rasic who posted eight. Italy dominated at the net, scoring with 11 blocks including three apiece by Gioli and Arrighetti.

Serbia jumped out to a three-point lead early on after strong attacking play from Jovana Brakocevic, but Italy recovered to tie it at 8-8 after a wonderful block by Valentina Arrighetti. A pair of spikes by Simona Gioli put the Italians up by four, but Serbia hung close as a Jelena Nikolic spike brought them back within one at 19-18. But Serbia committed errors late on, giving Italy a chance to finish, which they did as Gioli dropped a bomb to take it 25-20.

Italy continued to control in the second set with a great spike by Francesca Piccinini and a clever tip by Eleonora Lo Bianco putting their side up by four at the first TTO. Antonella Del Core put up two stubborn blocks on Serbia’s Natasa Krsmanovic, plus a cheeky spike down the line to extend the lead to 12-6. Italy stayed in front as Lo Bianco and Arrighetti connected on a beautiful combo that saw the latter drive a kill down the line to make it 20-15. Italy scored five more in a row to finish the set 25-15.

Serbia seemed to wake up at the start of the third set, with Sanja Malagurski dropping consecutive bombs from the right side to take her team to a 6-1 lead. But solid attacking by Serena Ortolani and Arrighetti brought the Italians back level at 14-14. It stayed tight until Del Core and Ortolani edge Italy out front to close it out 25-22.

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