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World League 2002 - Press Info

Match Descriptive

Russia beat Italy 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-22) - duration 1:34
17-Aug, start time: 12:40, end time: 14:14 - Attendance: 2,650
Russia cuts down Italy for second finals berth
Italy took the opening set 25-23 in their match against Russia deploying big guns Hristo Zlatanov and Alessandro Fei with the finesse of the Vermiglio. Russia, who scraped into the semifinals when Spain failed against The Netherlands in the last Pool E match, looked better in the second set for an early three point lead with setter Vadim Khamouttskikh combining harmoniously with heavyweight Roman Iakovlev to support an almost impenetrable block that saw them charge to 16-10.
Russia looked a rejuvenated side in the second set with a vastly improved block that shut out the Squadra Azzurri while their coach Andre Anastasi paced like a lion on the sidelines. Serguei Tetioukhine served for the set and Italy defended the first set point but not the second, allowing Russia to equalize with 25-19.
The Russians frequently powered home shots that landed at the feet of skilled players like Samuel Papi, and even overhead smashes by the usually deadly Zlatanov were cut down by the Russian defense to allow them to cruise to a 25-20 third set.
By then, Italy looked rattled but a rare error by Tetioukhine gave them a 2-point lead. The sides traded points back and forth, leveling at 10-all, but the enormous reach of Alexei Koulechov was too good too often. Iakovlev gave his team match point and then blocked to give his side their place in the finals.
/mh