Florence, Italy, June 19, 2009 - The United States
clinched their first success on Italian soil by beating Italy 3-1 (25-21,
30-28, 21-25, 25-21) in the first match of a double-header played at Nelson
Mandela Forum in Florence.
It was a well-deserved success, built on a physical
dominance that the Italians could not compete against. After an anonymous
second match against China last weekend, Andrea Anastasi's team made progress
against the Americans but it was not enough to secure a victory.
The Italian's approached the game against the USA very
differently than against the Chinese, immediately putting the defending champions
under pressure. But after a couple of Italian receiving mistakes, USA led 16-14
at the first technical timeout. Savani's second line attack was the key for an
Italian comeback that could have been more effective if only the Italian
defense had worked as expected. Alan Knipe's team easily preserved a
three-point margin to close the first set 25-21.
In the second set, the United States continued on the
same path while Italy paid for some defensive mistakes. A couple of effective
attacks by Mauro Gavotto and Matteo Martino helped bring the Italians back into
the match, but USA went ahead at the first TTO. The Italians found a way to
stay immediately behind the defending champions before taking the lead before
the second technical timeout. A dirty ace by Toutzinsky put both teams level.
Anastasi called Simone Parodi in for Matteo Martino and a "hands-out"
by Sean Rooney gave a two-point lead to the visitors, forcing Anastasi to call
another timeout. Italy had the strength to fight back with a couple of very
effective blocks by Dragan Travica and Mauro Gavotto. Rooney and Simone Parodi
finalized the last balls while Italy played a setball without closing. Gavotto
produced a couple of effective blocks but it was the U.S. team that closed the
set with a couple of nice attacks by Rooney and captain David Lee.
In the third set Italy started with more confidence,
going ahead at the first technical timeout before succumbing to a huge American
comeback. Savani gave Italy another chance to go ahead but the U.S. showed
their solidity. Italy was one point ahead at the second technical timeout. Some
winning series gave Italy a three-point advantage while Alan Knipe put Jayson
Jablonsky in for Matthew Anderson. Gavotto and Savani stepped up the Italian
attack, while USA were made to pay for one of their rare mistakes in the match.
At the end it was up to Savani again to close the match, to finally win a set after
dropping the last 5 in World League play.
With the U.S. leading 2-1, the fourth set started with
the U.S. taking the lead after some strong battles for the early points. Knipe
and his team went ahead at the first TTO, which was a good base to build a more
solid margin of advantage. The Americans held on for a 25-21 win.