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 Match info | Description
Japan' stellar reception is the key to defeat European bronze medalist Italy

The Italians very clearly disappointed after their defeat against Japan
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 11, 2009. Italy and Japan were the next to play this morning at the Mall Convention Center and the main features of such teams let the audience wait for an exciting match, with the traditional Japanese quick play opposed to the great physical skills of the Italians, who dispose of the tallest line-up in the tournament. After a good start, Italy was not able to cope with Japan’s quick play and startling defense, so the Asian champions will tomorrow play Peru for the fifth place in this World Championship (23-25, 25-12, 25-16, 25-23). 
Japan initially performed quite strongly in the serving area but the Italians fought back with all their team spirit to overtake Japan in the score at the second technical tie-break (16-14). In a sort of Asian friendship agreement, the local audience was definitely for Japan, but Italy’s Angela Gabbiadini was cheered very often as the spectators were well aware that her mother is Thai. Japan got the right boost with a series of blocks and quick attacks, so Italian coach Moretti decided to replace an inconsistent Laura Baggi with left-handed Marika Bianchini; Japan’s tiny (155 cm) libero Mori produced some stellar defense but Italy leveled back at 22. Middle blocker Anna Caneva scored a fast attack for Italy’s first set ball and with Horikawa spiking out, the “Azzurre” got the right start for the provisional 1-0. The European bronze medalists were extremely shaky in reception as the second set got off and so Japan easily built up quite a re-assuring margin (11-4) through some aces of left-handed star Mari Horikawa. To invert that negative trend coach Moretti decided to give a rest both to regular setter and captain, Letizia Camera, as well as to opposite tower Valentina Diouf (202 cm), but the reception of his girls was still horrible and Japan kept on scoring for an easy 25-12.
Italy was back to the court with the regular line-up in the third set, but Japan’s startling reception and the crossed spikes of left-handed Horikawa continued to cause many troubles to the “Azzurre” (13-6), whose lack of consistency was again pretty evident. Japan sailed all the way through, with Italy again extremely faulty in reception and giving the impression that the “Azzurre” were suffering from being not that much used to the very peculiar way of playing volleyball of Japan. Coach Moretti opted for having back up setter Erika Vietti on court also during the fourth set and actually it started out quite well for Italy, with Pisani offering a solid performance in serving for the provisional 10-6. However, Italy struggled once again with its many ups and downs and Japan returned back very strongly; the set finished with an exciting rush, Italy leveled at 20 and with Anna Caneva causing some casualties among the Japanese receivers with her floating services Italy went ahead at 22-20. After an incredible rally – with many outstanding actions from both sides – Japan gained a first match ball and Gabbiadini spiked out for firing up the Asian party in the hall.     

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