Doha, Qatar, December 20, 2010 – In spite of the return of their captain Francesca Piccinini, Foppapedretti Bergamo of Italy performed well below their usual standards this afternoon in the second semifinal of the 2010 FIVB Club World Championships, and what was meant to be a battle royal turned into a pretty easy win for the South American champions Sollys Osasco.
The Brazilians won in straight sets (25-22, 25-20, 25-21) to qualify for tomorrow’s final against Fenerbahce. Bergamo were totally outclassed in blocking (6-13), Adenizia Silva and Natalia Pereira were the top scorers for Sollys with 14 points apiece, while Serena Ortolani was most prolific for Bergamo with 13 points.
The match began, as expected, in very tight fashion with long rallies while both opposites, Ortolani and Pereira, struggled to find their momentum. Osasco got the first mini-break (13-10), and with Bergamo inconsistent in reception the Brazilians widened the gap by the second mandatory break (16-12). Despite vociferous support from Trentino BetClic fans who had arrived at the Al-Gharafa sports hall ahead of their team’s match against Paykan, Bergamo lacked the balance between block and defence and the Brazilian attackers were intelligent enough to alternate mighty spikes with judicious lobs to cause additional trouble for the Italian receivers (19-15). When Ortolani spiked once again too long (22-18) the Brazilians seemed to have the opening set in the bag, more by default than their own efforts, but two blocks on Jaqueline and Adenizia restored Italian hopes (22-20). However Natalia, one of the stars of the recent World Championship in Japan, finished off the next two attacks and the set went Osasco’s way, 25-22.
Piccinini, on court for the first time in Doha after injury, brought some stability and consistency to Bergamo’s defence for a 4-1 lead at the start of the second set. Osasco promptly levelled at 4-4 before Valentina Arrighetti assumed the role of setter to great effect and helped Ortolani open up a 7-5 lead for Bergamo. The absence of Eleonora Lo Bianco, who recently underwent surgery to treat breast cancer, was clearly felt by Bergamo although 20-year old Noemi Signorile did her best to compensate. However Osasco went 16-12 up at the second technical timeout and stretched their lead further by systematically blocking the Italian attackers. At 19-12 down, Bergamo took the next four rallies in a row and Osasco coach Luizomar Moura was forced into a timeout. A few errors by Piccinini then paved the way for a flurry of set balls and Osasco made it two sets to nil (25-20) after Caterina Fanzini served into the net.
The match then became an uphill task for Bergamo and the start of the third set certainly offered no encouragement for the 2009 and 2010 CEV Champions League winners who quickly found themselves 4-1 down. Natalia and Jaqueline were performing at their usual high level and Osasco soon became more and more confident of their chances of making the final, which they did despite Bergamo mounting a belated comeback in the middle of the third set, all in vain.