Verona, Italy, June 13, 2009 - China showed another side
of their team by beating Italy in straight sets Saturday at the Palaolimpia
following a crushing loss to the hosts on Friday.
The Italian success in the opening game of the Verona
series was history by Saturday, when China put in an extraordinary performance
against an Italian side that suffered in receiving and lacked confidence.
A highly motivated Chinese team started the second match
leading comfortably until the first TTO, with Italy slow to enter the match.
The Chinese block complicated Italian's comeback attempt, as Jianan's
maintained its lead until the second technical time-out. Anastasi tried to
change the setup of the Italian team, introducing Matej Cernic from the bench,
but some receiving mistakes gave China the green light to continue racking up
The first Italian lead came at the beginning of the
second set, when they enjoyed a two-point advantage, 8-6 at the first technical
time out. By this time, however, the visitors had shown a remarkable
improvement in receiving and defense from a day earlier. Italy went into the
second TTO at 16-13 after conceding a couple of unforced errors, but soon
opened up a 4-point lead (19-15) before some perfect receiving from China
brought the visitors to within one point. Savani attempted to pick his team up
with a couple of very effective spikes but an error in attack put China ahead
and they clinched the second set 25-23.
The third frame started with a series of winning services
by Sala, which forced Zhou to call an immediate timeout. The Azzurri closed out
the first TTO at 8-3 before a much more efficient block gave the Italians an
8-points advantage. Loris Manià had to leave the match after a ball injured him
in the nose. Andrea Bari came in for Manià and Italy stayed 7 points ahead with
Anastasi substituting Martino for captain Cernic. But the visitors stormed back
to make it 19-18 and some bad receiving by Martino put China ahead again late
in the set. Finally, on the fifth match ball, a great service gave China a
well-deserved win on Italian soil.