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Japan overcome Italy 3-1 in fourth World Grand Prix warm-up

Italy's Francesca Ferretti sets the ball for Valentina Arrighetti in Saturday's match against Japan
 Cologne, Italy, July 19, 2014 – In their fourth friendly match against Japan, Marco Bonitta’s Italy suffered their second defeat – 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 27-25) – as both teams continue to prepare for the FIVB World Grand Prix, which starts on August 1.
Japan took the game to Italians in the early stages, forcing the hosts to play catch up. Italy stayed close but were unable to get ahead of the Japanese after dropping the first set by two points.  

Italy were stronger in the second set and their more aggressive play forced the Japanese into making errors. Japan used their strong defence to challenge the Italians and the set remained close until Italy captain Francesca Piccinini guided her team to a two-point set victory.

Japan found their feet again in the third set and the Italians couldn’t compete. Bonitta changed his players to try and boost his team, but the Japanese cruised to a 25-17 set margin.

Japan’s positive momentum continued in the fourth set, but Italy dug in and matched their Asian opponents thanks to good play by Caterina Bosetti. Italy saved several matchpoints before the Japanese prevailed 27-25.

“Playing four games in a row during this period of preparation is not easy,” Bonitta pointed out. “In the first two friendlies, we played well, but then our performance dropped, as expected. Now, we have a few more days of work before leaving for the first leg of the World Grand Prix. I don’t think we will be at our peak in Sassari (for the World Grand Prix openers), but the work has been programmed in this manner. Ours must be a gradual growth.”

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