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Italy storm past Puerto Rico in one-sided battle

Italy's Valentina Arrighetti and Serena Ortolani block a spike from Sarai Alvarez as they beat Puerto Rico on Saturday

Bangkok, Thailand, August 14. 2010 - Italy took little time outgunning Puerto Rico as they scored a straight sets (25-12 25-17 25-18) victory in their second match of the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Pool D in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday.

Italy, winners at the last year's FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Japan, started encouragingly in a match against the lower-ranked Puerto Rico. Despite the absence of libero Paola Cardullo the Italians raced to an initial 11-5 lead, thanks to Serena Ortolani's explosive hits and scintillating blocks by Cristina Barcellini and Valentina Arrighetti.

Puerto Rico, in their second appearance in the annual premier competition, lost their touch and their defence was heavily penetrated by Italian attackers, led by Ortolani who scored 23 points including 22 kills. As the Puerto Rico girls became more prone with unforced mistakes, Italy seized the chance to tear the Puerto Rican defence into shreds with their aggressive attacks and solid blocks to stretch the lead to 22-11 and 24-12. Ortolani ended Puerto Rico's challenge with her exceptional spike to the back court to give Italy a comfortable 25-12 win in the opening set.

The rhythm was still with the two-time European champions as they took a 10-6. The hard-hitting Ortolani uncorked a barrage of deadly cross-court spikes to help Italy widen the gap to 16-11. The indomitable giants clinched the second set without much trouble 25-17.

Going down two sets, Puerto Rico maintained their poise, with Aurea Cruz and Sarai Alvarez taking turns attacking fiercely at the net. The Norceca girls led initially 5-1 before the Italians roared back to catch them at 5-5, 8-8 and again 14-14. Puerto Rico tried to challenge the 2002 World Champions seriously and their determination worked out well as they matched Italy competitively. However Ortolani's acrobatic spikes and scintillating blocks from Barcellini and Arrighetti saw Italy eventually capture the set 25-18 and the match.

On Sunday Italy will battle Thailand and Puerto Rico face the USA.



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