The orange crowd welcomed the teams enthusiastic, cheering loudly when their men and the Italian squad entered the field. Dutch coach Peter Blangé started with Jan Willem Snippe on the position of the injured Robert Horstink. The opening phase was exciting immediately: both teams appeared concentrated and combative, despite of the high temperature in the Indoor Sportcentre. The teams scored equally (3-3, 5-5, 7-7), but the Netherlands reached the first technical time out leading one point. But, Cristian Savani was quite successful at the net, scoring almost every ball he hit (10-11). Now Italy was the party who was on the good side of the score (12-13), making the Dutch crowd clap and cheer extra for their heroes again. The Netherlands took back the lead (15-13), but the score got even again after a misunderstanding on Dutch side, causing a spiked out ball of Snippe. An ace of Kay van Dijk brought 19-17 on the score board, after which Italian coach Andrea Anastasi called for a time out. A well placed block of Jeroen Trommel and Rob Bontje made the Dutch lead three points (21-18) for the first time and a few seconds later the margin was four (23-19). Giacomo Santini served out the bal, bringing the Dutch their first set point. The set was closed by a spike of team captain Trommel (25-21).
In the second set Italy scored the first two points, but on the hand of captain Trommel the Dutch evened the score soon. The teams were quite equivalent in the first phase of the set, but this time Italy was leading one point at the first technical time out. Top scorer of the first set Kay van Dijk made the Dutch lead for the first time in this set (13-12) with an unstoppable spike and when the second technical time out was reached, the Netherlands led with two points. With an ace of team captain Matej Cernic the score evened again (17-17), making the Dutch audience stand behind their team immediately again. It didn’t help enough, at 18-19 Blangé called for his first time out. At 20-20, Tije Vlam was brought in to strengthen the Dutch block. But after a few spectacular saves of the Netherlands, Bontje scored a point blocking again (22-20). Substitute Jeroen Rauwerdink brought Blangé and his team the first set point. The audience in Eindhoven started a wave and supersub Rauwerdink had the honor to close the second set.
Anastasi started the third set with Michal Lasko on the position of Mauro Gavotto and also setter Giacomo Sintini was replaced by Dragan Travica. It apparently surprised the Dutch men, Italy reached the first technical time out with a margin of two points. When the Italians scored their eleventh point, Blangé called his men on the side (8-11). It got worse for the home team 9-15, the Italians came in a flow and seemed to score quite easily. The margin was still five points at the second technical time out. The Netherlands seemed to have lost it completely and at 13-19, the Dutch coach again tried to turn the tides for his team through a time out. It did not work, the Italians rumbled on and at 15-21, Niels Klapwijk was brought in for Kay van Dijk. The Netherlands fought back but couldn’t prevent a 1-2 score in sets, substitute Lasko scored the set point for his team (19-25).
In the fourth set, the Italians opened the score again. The Italian train clearly was running now and at 2-5, Blangé already called his team on the side. Bontje had the best block in the field and with this weapon he reduced the Italian lead with one point (5-7). Italy however kept on showing why it is one of the greatest volleyball countries of the world, apparently easily walking away to 6-11. After Kay van Dijk also setter Van Harskamp was substituted, Niels Klapwijk and Roland Rademaker took their place. It could not prevent the eight points arrear at the second technical time out. The clearly agitated Blangé tried to get his team back on track again at 10-19, but he did not succeed. Van Harskamp came back in and supersub Rauwerdink did well again during his playing time, but it was too late for the Dutch. At 15-25 the score in sets was even again.
In the decisive set a fierce battle was fought, making the audience cheer even louder than before. After an Italian lead of two points, but on the hand of serving Rauwerdink Dutch were leading again (6-5). Still, Italy had scored two more points when the teams changed fields (6-8). The south-Europeans simply played better and seemed to anticipate perfectly on the play of the Netherlands. On top of that, the men of Blangé made too many unforced errors (8-12). Emanuele Birarelli brought the first match point by a perfect block on Kooistra, but Lasko closed the first duel at 9-15.
NED Rob Bontje
We let go too many chances and could not make the difference on the most decisive moments. We let the Italians escape from the third set on.
NED Yannick van Harskamp
The Italians were perfectly organised after the second set. We worked hard, but lost our grip on them. Italy dominated the play in the last three sets.
IN the first and second set we were really nervous, this was an important match for us. We made too many mistakes and the Dutch had a great defence. After these two sets we played better and better, especially in blocking we made the difference.