London 2012

Press release

Italy cruises to straight-set win over Team GB to round out the day at Earls Court

It took a little while but Italy finally imposed its class and pace to claim a second win in the Olympic tournament

London, Great Britain, August 2, 2012 – Italy edged Great Britain in straight sets for the last match on schedule on Thursday night at Earls Court to move up its record to two wins and one loss in the tournament. The score (25-18, 25-18, 25-20) does not fully reflect the reality of the game since Team GB fought bravely and even moved to the front for a couple of times to force Italy play with more focus and accuracy to get back full control of the operations.

Still searching for the first win in their Olympic debut and loudly cheered by the home audience, the local heroes of GB caught a good start going up 8-7 at the first technical time-out on a service winner by Mark McGivern. However, Italy gradually stepped up the quality of its play going to the front by 4 (13-9) and gradually widening the gap up to a maximum of 6 points (19-13). The “Azzurri” were finally able to break the resistance of the guys in red jerseys as they were marshaled by Croatian-born setter Dragan Travica, with Mark Plotyczer serving into the net to finish off the opening set (25-18). 

Italy found it difficult to contrast the enthusiasm of Team GB that helped by the audience went up 4-1 in the early phases of set 2 displaying some solid defense and the local fans started booing Italy’s captain Cristian Savani as he questioned a decision of the referee on what he assumed was a net violation by Team GB that was not properly sanctioned. Italy got back on track but a serving error of Savani contributed the provisional 8-7 for GB at the first technical time-out similarly to what had happened in the first set. However, this time the local favorites could stretch that lead (11-8) before Italy could draw level again on an ace of Ivan Zaytsev, whose father – Vyacheslav – also competed at the Olympics but for the Soviet Union. Zatysev jr. who actually started his career playing as setter displayed a great array of skills in offense and Italy got control of the operations and comfortably pocketed also that section of the match on a block by – guess who – Zaytsev (25-18).

After another close start, Italy played relaxed to set the pace of the game in set 3 and by the second mandatory stop (16-9) it was evident that the guys mentored by Mauro Berruto were going to seize the night in straight sets. Some errors of the Italians helped GB prolong the match a bit; Berruto opted for two of his vets in the group, Samuele Papi and Alessandro Fei, to accelerate down the final stretch with Michal Lasko finishing it off with an attack from the wing.

In the next round of play Italy will take on Australia while GB has another demanding task while playing the winners of the 2012 FIVB World League, Poland.    


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