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World League 2004 - Press Info

Match Descriptive

Italy beat Bulgaria 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-21) - duration 1:10
17-Jul, start time: 18:37, end time: 19:47 - Attendance: 5'650
City: Roma; Hall : Palalottomatica
Italy book spot in final with ruthless display
A well executed offensive game led hosts Italy to their second victory in two days as they charged to a straight sets semifinal win over Bulgaria in the Palalottomatica in Rome to seal the first spot in the 2004 World League final.

After a superb 3-0 win over Olympic champions Serbia and Montenegro on Friday, Italy were again in top form, proving too powerful and accurate on attack for Bulgaria, who were a shade of the side that pushed Brazil hard in their 3-1 defeat on the opening day.

Andrea Sartoretti in particular was in sublime form for the Squadra Azzura and he was one of the most prominent figures as both sides showed outstanding power and accuracy in the opening stages determined to make a great start. That honour fell to Bulgaria who opened up an early 6-3 lead, however, Italy fought back to level at 7-7 at which stage neither side relented. Point by point they traded blows in a terrific contest before Italy, down 18-19, produced two pieces of magic on the block from Valerio Vermiglio and Luigi Mastrangelo to take a 20-19 lead. This was just the tonic Italy needed and they stormed home to seal the first set on the back of an ace from Samuele Papi.

Italy were quick to open a 4-1 lead in the second set, one they wouldn't relinquish. Bulgaria struggled to cope with the power serving of Sartoretti, who scored an amazing 18 points in the match, and Alexander Fei in particular and much to their fans' disappointment, who were extremely vocal despite their small numbers, Bulgaria could only watch as it was left to Sartoretti to spike home the final point of the set.

A rejuvenated Bulgarian side jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the third set but when coach Gianpaolo Montali introduced Paolo Cozzi for Fei, Italy fought back well, leveling the set at 11-11 before storming home 25-21 after Vladimir Nikolov served long.