Mantova, Italy, July 3, 2009 - Italy kept alive their
dream of advancing to the 2009 FIVB World League Final Round in Belgrade by
beating the Netherlands 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-22) in Mantova, Italy.
The win follows two victories against the Ducth in
Eindhoven last weekend.
It was a great game for the Azzurri, who once again
played without captain Valerio Vermiglio, who returned to the team in Round 4
but didn't see any playing time.
Italy started well in the first set with a good approach
in the inside-out, leading 4-2 against Peter Blangè's team, which conceded too
much in defense. On the other side, a couple of good defensive patterns helped
Italy take an 8-6 lead into the first TTO. Netherlands clawed back to equal the
score with better efficiency in serving.
The Italian defense versus the orange attack became the
theme of a very interesting match as both teams played without any calculation.
Italian blocking was crucial to giving the hosts an opportunity to play without
nerves in the final part of the first set, forcing Blangè to call a timeout,
which was ineffective. It was the Italians who gained a 5-point margin of
victory at 21-16 after another Dutch timeout, and the home team closed the set
With Dragan Travica in for Giacomo Sintini, Italy gained
the lead with some nice attacking volleyball.
Netherlands improved in defense but were kept under
constant pressure, which complicated any comeback attempt. With Italy ahead
11-7, Blangè called for a timeout. The Dutch returned to the court with a different
attacking approach, which worked well until the home team exercised their
attacking quality to close the second set 25-19.
With Italy ahead 2-0, the Netherlands tried to fight back
but a couple of attacks from the second line by an inspired Savani gave Italy
an 8-7 lead at the first technical suspension.
The spirit of the Netherlands came out but the Italian
block was equal to the task from the very beginning. Blangè's team tried to
increase its defensive efficiency but the Italians did not concede any
opportunity with Lasko and Savani well assisted by Dragan Travica.
An ace by Robert Horstnik levelled the score but Italy
consolidated its lead, and Blangè once again called for a timeout. Three
mistakes helped Netherlands to inch ahead 21-20 but a great final spurt gave
the Azzurri their third success in a row.