Nagoya, Japan, November 14, 2007: European champions Italy swept South American champions Brazil 3-0 when the World Cup resumed on Wednesday at Nippon Gaishi Hall.
Thanks to their 25-20, 25-23, 25-19 victory, Le Azzurre improved their win-loss record to 9-0 and took a massive step towards Beijing. Brazil dropped to 7-2, having lost 3-2 to USA earlier in the competition.
Italy's last two matches are against Cuba on Thursday and the United States on Friday, while Brazil will meet Serbia on Thursday and Japan in the last match of the competition on Friday evening.
Italy started without captain Lo Bianco, who was resting a back injury. Southpaw setter Ferretti took her place.
The blues reached the first TTO ahead 8-7, thanks to solid all-round work from Del Core on reception, digging, spiking and at the net. Aguero from the back court and Barazza at the net also stood out.
On the yellow side, Fabiana met Piccinini with a monster block, and an overhead set from Fofao cleared the way for Sheilla to beat the blue block on the right. It was just one of eight spikes for Sheilla in the opening set.
Rallies were rare as the two heavyweights traded crashing blows all the way through to the second TTO, at which point Italy still led by one, 16-15.
On the restart, Barazza blocked Jaqueline for 17-15, and the Brazilian ace gave way to the explosive Sassa. The Brazilians quickly caught up, but an attack error from Fabiana at the net gave Italy a two-point cushion, 20-18, and sent the South American champions into the first TO of the match.
Del Core led Italy forward, sending a screamer past a diving libero Fabi, and Brazil needed a second TO trailing 23-20.
Brilliant defence from libero Cardullo, Piccinini and Del Core swept Italy to the first set 25-20, Piccinini finishing it at the first opportunity.
Brazil started the second set strongly and led 7-4 and 8-6 at the first TTO. Middle blocker Walewska came into the game more with some confident work at the net, Fofao quickly killed a loose ball and Sassa's sizzler from the left made it 8-6.
Clearly the yellows had lifted their game, and when the lead grew to 11-7, Italy coach Barbolini needed a TO. The talk worked wonders, as Italy closed to 11-10, forcing Brazil off for a TO.
Aguero started to hit top form, scoring from both sides with vicious spikes at the top of her incredible leap, while Paula was Brazil's chief scorer at this point, helping them to the second TTO ahead 16-15.
The players were off again shortly after, the Italians calling a TO when a pumped-up Walewska scored at the net for 18-15.
Ferretti gave way to Guiggi at 19-16, and Gioli's blocking and Piccinini's spiking brought Italy to within one point, 19-18, and forced a Brazil TO.
Italy had two set points at 24-22, and after Paula had saved the first, Aguero stroked a deep winner for 25-23, 2-0 Italy.
Italy began the third set in sparkling form. Down 3-1, Brazil replaced middle blocker Fabiana with Thaisa, and at 5-1 the South Americans took a TO.
Del Core maintained the pressure, and Gioli got the better of the Brazil block for 8-2 at the first TTO. The Brazilians were struggling to stay in the third set as Italy tasted victory, and Aguero blasted over the yellow block for 13-7.
Jumping from the back court, Piccinini pushed one into a big space and Gioli scored easily from the right after her trademark run. But when Paula stepped up the pace on the Brazilian left and reduced Italy's lead to 15-11, Italy needed a TO.
On the restart, Jaqueline carved one down the right side, Walewska blocked Piccinini for 15-13 and Italy took a second TO having lost their momentum. Secolo gave Italy the lift they needed, swatting a much-needed winner on the left for 16-13 to keep Brazil at a reasonably safe distance.
As the noise level rose in the hall, Secolo did it again for 17-13, and Aguero swooped for 18-14 on the opposite side.
Could Brazil make up the ground, or were Italy too far ahead and too determined to allow a comeback? Trailing 19-14, Brazil went off for a TO. The excellent Del Core sent another crisp spike bouncing through the Brazil court, and although Paula continued to score spectacular points, Italy closed it out 25-19 with a Gioli winner for 3-0.