Belgrade, Serbia, July 7, 2010 - Italy moved within inches of the 2010 FIVB World League Final Round as they beat Pool B rivals Serbia 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-19) in the first match of the sixth weekend of the Intercontinental Round.
Both teams started cautiously due to the importance of the match, but the hosts remained slightly ahead throughout the first. Serbia kept their lead until the end of the set before Italy fought back to bring the teams within one point of each other. However the Serbians dug deep to take an early lead in the match.
The home side began to feel the pressure in the second set as the Italians took control of the match and went ahead comfortably early on. From there the visitors never looked back and brought the scores level at 1-1.
Last year's runners-up couldn't recover in the third set, and never threatened the visiting team, who played with the right rhythm, leading from the start till the end. The hosts tried to fight back, coming within two points of the Italians before the visiting coach Andrea Anastasi asked for a timeout. From their Italy went on to seal the set and take the lead for the first time in the game.
Italy upped their intensity in the fourth set, determined to secure the win without a tie-break, and they successfully kept the Serbians at arms length by few points. As the teams entered in the final stages of the set Italy's lead increased and with a strong serves and a solid defense the hosts couldn't fight back, succumbing to the set and with that, the match.
The two sides will clash again on Thursday and with Italy just one point away from the Final Round, Serbia will have it all to do.