Doha, Qatar, December 16, 2010 – Foppapedretti Bergamo shrugged off a slow start and showed that they could play without captain Francesca Piccinini as they defeated the Dominican Republic's Mirador in straight sets (27-25, 25-12, 25-22) on day two of the 2010 FIVB Women's Club World Championship.
Serena Ortolani topped the scoring chart with 16 points, while there were notable contributions also from Elitsa Vasileva and Iuliana Nucu with 13 and 11 respectively for the Italian club who, as 2009 and 2010 CEV Champions League winners, are seen as serious contenders for the crown.
They began their campaign with a morning encounter at the Al Garafa sports hall against the NORCECA representatives Mirador. With Eleonora Lo Bianco having stayed in Italy and captain Piccinini out for a few more days, the Italians were forced to revise their usual starting six with young setter Noemi Signorile, 20, asked to adapt quickly to the pressure and peculiarities of an international competition she is not yet familiar with.
Lucia Bosetti opened the game with a couple of aces but then the Italians struggled in their quest for consistency in attack and trailed 16-11 at the second stop. Mirador, on the other hand, were as solid as a wall in reception and their block and defensive system were extremely well-organised and effective. Moreover, they had different solutions in attack including some pipes from the back row from captain Milagros Cabral de la Cruz.
Bergamo finally started to reduce the gap as middle blocker Valentina Arrighetti went to serve at 17-15. A splendid diagonal spike from the Bulgarian Vasileva pulled back another point at 19-18 but Davide Mazzanti's team then lost their focus and fell further behind again at 21-18, with libero Enrica Merlo struggling to produce her best form. After a time-out from coach Mazzanti, they scored twice in a row to finally pull level at 22-22 but the initiative then swung back Mirador's way again. Bethania de la Cruz spiked powerfully to force a block-out on Ortolani and Vasileva then sent an attack long to give Mirador two set balls.
The first was lost with a net violation and then Ortolani blocked De la Cruz for 24-all. When Vasileva blocked Annerys Vargas for a first set point, Ortolani did not miss the opportunity and – with their block finally working – the Italians went 1-0 ahead.
With their confidence now flowing, Bergamo got off to a flying start in set two and steamed 6-0 in front. Prior to the match the Italians had voiced concerns about the 10am start but now they had finally found their pace, with setter Signorile even scoring twice. Dominican coach Marcos Kwiek made a substitution but the Italians were now on a roll and moved into a massive 8-0 lead at the first technical break.
Vasileva was proving the most effective weapon for the Italians – showing great consistency in reception as well – and their dominance was becoming embarrassing for their opponents as the score rose to 10-0 and then 16-4 at the second technical break. Although their focus slipped briefly before the last part of the set, the result was never in danger and the final score of 25-12 spoke for itself.
The opening of the third set was a much closer affair. Mirador led by the slimmest margin at the first stop before Vasileva brought the sides even at 12-all with a diagonal spike and an ace. Bergamo lost focus yet again, however, especially in reception, and Mirador went up again at 16-13. Despite some inconsistency, the Italians moved back in front at 18-17 on the back of a long turn in the serving zone by Bosetti and this proved the decisive break as soon afterwards Bosetti again killed the final spike for a 3-0 win.