FIVB - Women's Volleyball World Cup 2011

MATCH INFO

Italy misses the mark in opener against Russia


Denis Biriukov takes on three Italian blockers at the net

Kagoshima, Japan, November 20, 2011 - In what promised to be the best opening day matchup, Russia and Italy — ranked second and third in the tournament respectively — faced off in an early clash of titans on Saturday. It was indeed a tight contest, but serving errors proved costly for Italy, particularly in the last two sets, as Russia rebounded after dropping the first to win 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21).

Leading Russia on the day was Maxim Mikhaylov with 19 points, supported by great blocking by Alexander Volkov with 7 blocks as part of 11 total points. For Italy, Michal Lasko led all scorers with 26. Italy’s Ivan Zaytsev, who’s father is an Olympic gold medalist for Russia in volleyball, notched 14 in a losing effort.

The teams both appeared to be nervous early, as they combined for seven serving errors to start, with Russia going ahead 8-6. Sergey Tetyukhin helped Russia extend with a great spike of the block to edge out 13-9 followed by a stubborn block on a flying Cristian Savani attack to go up five. Russia clung to their lead until late as a Mikhaylov spike made it 19-15 in their favor. But Italy delivered a miracle run at just the right time, taking eight of the next nine points, including three from a fired-up Savani. Zaytsev pitched in great defense, as well as a hard drive on Italy’s third set point to complete their comeback in the set, 25-22.

Italy held a slight edge to start the second set, with a great Zaytsev ace clipping a diving Alexey Obmochaev. But Russia’s Tetyukhin delivered three precision spikes for his side helping them back to 10-10, his last in response to a great save by Italy’s Fei on the other side. It was then Russia’s turn to defend a slim lead with Mikhaylov attacking well and Volkov putting a stunning stuff on Savani to make it 16-15 in his team’s favor. But Nikolay Apalikov pitched in a timely pair of attacks as Russia took five of the last seven points to take the set 25-22, evening the match at a set a piece.

Italy’s Lasko kept attacking strong in the third set with a spike off the wing putting his side up two, and other to follow to go ahead 10-7. But Alexander Butko countered with a strong block on the Italian sniper, sparking Russia into gear and jump ahead. Biriukov responded with an ace, and Volkov posted his fourth block of the match to put Russia up 18-13. A Mikhaylov ace put them up 20-15. Italy rallied back to within one, but costly serving errors by Dragan Travica and Zaytsev meant that a comeback like in the first set was not in the cards. Russia hung on 25-22, two sets one.

Volkov came hard in the fourth set, posting yet another block on Savani and following with a spike soon after. His teammate Biriukov was attacking well in the set, but Lasko wasn’t quitting for Italy as he delivered more scoring from the wing to go up 18-17. But Volkov’s seventh block was a critical one stopping Zaytsev to go ahead 21-19. From there another critical serving error late by Italy’s Travic, and a key ace from Mikhaylov late would help Russia would end it 25-21, three sets to one.


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