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Dominicans down Italy in five-set thriller

The Dominican Republic celebrate as they score the win over Italy on Sunday

Tokyo, Japan, August 22, 2010 – The Dominican Republic came from behind for a thrilling five-set victory (23-25, 32-30, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13) over Italy in the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix in Tokyo on Sunday.

The Dominican Republic improved its record to 3-6 while Italy dropped to 6-3. Italy finished fifth in the qualification standings, while the Dominican Republic finished eighth.

It was the first time the Dominican Republic had beaten Italy in an official FIVB tournament.

Altagracia Mambru was the top scorer for the Dominican Republic with 17 points. Valentina Arrigetti top-scored for Italy with the same total.

Dahiana Burgos and Altagracia Mambru landed a couple of brutal spikes as the Dominican Republic moved into a one-point lead at the first technical timeout, but successive serving errors handed the momentum to Italy and had Dominican coach Marcos Kwiek seething on the sidelines. More Dominican errors saw the Italians four points ahead at the second TTO, but some good blocking kept the scores close. A lucky serve off the net cord by Niverka Marte drew the scores level at 18-18, but successive spiking errors put the Italians in front again. Cristina Barcellini landed some good hits as Italy stayed ahead. The Dominicans drew to within one point at 24-23, but some hesitant defensive play allowed a half-hit effort by Serena Ortolani to seal the set.

Italy started out well in the second set, opening up a three-point lead, but two great blocks by 191-cm Jeoselyna Arias helped the Dominicans draw level at 5-5. Italy pulled ahead again and a set miss by Karla Echenique prompted Kwiek to bring in Niverka Marte as setter, which brought a bit more stability to the Dominican attack. The Dominicans scored four points in a row to move 13-10 ahead, but good blocking by Giulia Rondon and Valentina Arrighetti kept Italy close. The Italians drew level at 18 when a soft shot by Lisvel Eve didn't clear the net and went ahead at 21-20 with a well-placed shot from Lucia Crisanti into the back court. But the Dominicans were hanging tough, defending well and landing some thumping spikes as the set drew to a thrilling climax. The Italians had three setpoints saved by the Dominican Republic, who then missed two of their own. Mambru was huge at this stage and it was she who earned her team another setpoint at 31-30. Eve then clinched the set with a riveting block on the big-hitting Lucia Bosetti.

The Dominicans had their tails up at the start of the third set, but after taking a three-point lead, they lost their way and the Italians drew level at 6-6 on a poor mis-hit by Eve. A timeout steadied the team and a hit by Eve and a service ace from Rondon saw the Dominicans two points ahead at the first TTO. Three netted serves out of four didn't help the Italians, who had gone off the boil at this point, and the Dominican Republic found themselves four points up. But some good spiking by Arrighetti and a pair of errors by the Dominicans closed the gap to one point at 20-19. Sidarka Nunez brought some relief to the Dominicans and a lucky shot that crept over the net by Eve gave her team five setpoints. They squandered three before Rondon crashed home the winner from a short set to put her team 2-1 up in the match.

A string of Dominican errors allowed Italy to zip into a 12-4 lead in the fourth set, before the Italians made three errors of their own. However, they maintained their eight-point lead at the second TTO and were 10 points in front, before Giulia Rondon netted a serve. A block by Barcellini on Cindy Rondon handed Italy nine setpoints. Amazingly, they needed seven of them before Arrighetti managed to plant a shot through the heart of the Dominican defense, sending the match to a fifth set.

Two great spikes by Burgos down the left line kept the Dominicans level early on in the fifth set, but then they got sloppy and Italy were 8-5 up at the break. Big-hitting lefty Nunez gave the Dominican Republic some hope with a pair of good shots and Mambru did likewise to close the gap to one point at 9-8. But a shot by Bosetti and a good block by Arrighetti on Burgos gave Italy some breathing space. However the Dominicans roared back to pull level at 11-11 and again at 12. Burgos gave them a one-point lead before a block by Cindy Rondon on Francesca Piccinini brought up two matchpoints. Bosetti saved the first, but then Mambru planted a crisp spike down the middle to clinch the match and send the Dominicans into a dancing frenzy on court.

  
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