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2005 edition
World Grand Prix 2004 - Press Info

Match Descriptive

Italy beat Cuba 3-1 (25-21, 26-28, 25-22, 27-25) - duration 1:55
31-Jul, start time: 21:25, end time: 23:20 - Attendance: 5'800
City: Reggio Calabria; Hall : Palapentimele hall
Italy clinch dream final spot
Going into the match it was hard to separate both teams. A young Cuban side had already set the competition alight having won both their Final Round pool matches. Italy, meanwhile, had lost to China and beaten USA in pool play but had the advantage of a fanatical home crowd.

The fans were treated to a frenetic pace in the opening minutes with some beautiful spiking from Nadia Centoni and powerful serving from Francesca Piccinini giving the hosts a slight advantage. Coach Marco Bonitta then made an inspired double substitution with Italy 19-18 ahead, introducing king hitter Elisa Togut and setter Eleonora Lo Bianco saw Italy charge home to claim the set.

After a mistaken ridden first set Cuba settled down and started playing the type of Volleyball which saw them reach the semifinals of the Final Round unbeaten. A lead of 7-5 to Cuba was a fair reflection of the set before Italy rode on the support of the passionate home crowd to go on a four point run. Up 9-7 was soon 12-9. Cuba fought back however and retook the lead at 18-15 thanks to some awesome spiking from captain Yumilka Ruiz. Once again Bonitta called on Togut and Lo Bianco but this time they could not save Italy. Although the home side had two match points it was Ruiz who blocked a Simona Rinieri spike to level the match at 1-1.

It was Italy's turn to make the better start in the third set. They quickly took the lead and at 16-14 ahead the momentum was on their side. Some great defence from the likes of Nancy Carrillo and Daimi Ramirez kept Cuba in the set at 21-20 however, it was their double block attempt that went long, giving Italy the set.

By this stage the home fans were wishing for a quick finish, but much to their dismay Cuba led early in the fourth at 8-4. Another great substitution from Bonitta bringing on Italian skipper Manuela Leggeri turned things around. Trailing 10-12, a Piccinini ace gave Italy the lead at 13-12 before the Squadra Azzurra held on for a precious victory.