Italy beat Yugoslavia 3-2 (22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 22-25, 17-15) - duration 1:56
15-Aug, start time: 17:30, end time: 19:26 - Attendance: 3,420 Italy defeats Yugoslavia in five set thriller
Italy finally fended off an aggressive and often highly effective Yugoslavia in the tiebreaker of a five-set battle of attrition to avoid the fate of meeting Brazil in the first 2002 World League semifinal on Saturday.
Both teams started nervously and Italy, unable to mobilize their early attack let Yugoslavia take the advantage with almost faultless defense. Nine errors for Italy against four for Yugoslavia set the scene for a first set victory for the Yugoslavs. The Italians improved their game in the second set and opened a three-points lead to 16-13 before letting Yugoslavia back into the action. The Squadra Azzuri, again counting on the experience of Giani in Zlatalov's place, tied the match after an attack error by Yugoslav middle-blocker Géric. Italy's block kicked in by the third set and they picked up five block points. At the same time the Yugoslav team slipped into a sequence of missed attacks. Yugoslavia, with their legendary fighting spirit, started well in the fourth set, capitalizing on Italian errors for a 5-0 lead. The team commanded by Andrea Anastasi went out for the chase trailing two points at 20-18 for the Yugoslavs, but the move came too late. Yugoslav setter Jakonovi came on for Grbic and gave even more attacking options. A closely fought tiebreaker followed with the lead being traded back and forth before a euphoric crowd in the stadium. Although Yugoslavia started with three points lead to 4-1, the Italians came back strongly to tie the match, using efficient blocking and powerful forced serves. The Italians took the match with an impress triple block and take first place in Pool F. /mh