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Italy dominate Japan in straight sets victory

Jiri Kovar was the one who sealed the final point for Italy on their way to a straight victory over hosts Japan on Saturday evening at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

Tokyo, Japan, November 23, 2013 - Italy downed Japan in straight sets (25-16, 25-21, 25-21) at the World Grand Champions Cup on Saturday.

The result gives Italy a 2-2 mark, while Japan remains winless at 0-4 heading into the final day of the competition.

The match marked the third meeting ever in the World Grand Champions Cup between the nations and 31st overall. Japan entered with a 23-7 advantage in the series.

Ivan Zaytsev was the top scorer for Italy with 13 points. Filippo Lanza and Jiri Kovar chipped in with 11 each.

Yu Koshikawa had eight points for Japan in the loss.

Italy excelled in all facets of the game in an impressive performance. Their defense was especially outstanding in the triumph.

Japan appeared flat from the outset and could never muster much of a threat against the Italian attack.

Italy took a 5-4 lead in the first set. Zaytsev soared for a spike to put Italy up 6-5. Koshikawa fired a serve long and Italy led 8-6 at the first TTO. Shogo Toimoto's spike pulled Japan within a point at 9-8. Italy moved ahead 14-9 and Japan called a timeout. Japan prevailed in a long rally but still trailed 15-11. Italy was up 16-12 at the second TTO. A block by Italy made it 19-14. It was 20-15 after a dink by Kunihiro Shimizu. Filippo Lanza's soft return gave Italy set point at 24-15. Japan struggled with receiving during the set as Italy passed well on the counterattack. Lanza gave Italy the seet 25-16 with a spike. Zaytsev and Lanza had five points each in the set.

Jiri Kovar's block put Italy in front 5-3 in the second set and Japan called a timeout. A spike by Kazuyoshi Yokota made it 7-5. Japan had trouble dealing with Italy's frontline blocking. Zaytsev's spike gave Italy an 8-6 edge at the first TTO. With Italy ahead 10-6, Japan took a timeout. Lanza hammered a crosscourt spike and it was 12-7. Italy fired a spike wide and the score was 14-10. A Lanza spike made it 15-10. A Tatsuya Fukuzawa dink pulled Japan within three at 15-12. Italy led 16-12 at the second TTO after Koshikawa sent a serve into the net. Italy remained in control, moving ahead 20-15. A huge spike by Kovar made it 21-15. A Yokota spike pulled Japan within five at 22-17. Zaytsev uncorked another spike and put Italy two points from the set at 23-17. Koshikawa sent a serve long and Italy had set point at 24-18. After Japan scored three straight to make it 24-21, Italy called a timeout. Kovar ended the set 25-21 with a spike.

An outstanding block by Thomas Beretta put Italy up 5-3 in the third set. Fukuzawa whiffed on an attempted return and it was 7-3. Ishijima fired a spike long and it was 8-3 Italy at the first TTO. At this point in the match Italy had 10 blocks and Japan had none. A spike by Japan hit the antenna and Italy was up by six at 10-4. Kovar flew in for a spike and it was 13-8. Another Zaytsev spike made it 15-10. Kovar's spike made it 16-11 at the second TTO. Beretta's spike gave Italy a six-point lead at 18-12 and there appeared little doubt about the outcome. A service ace by Shimizu pulled Japan within three at 18-15. Lanza responded with a spike for 19-15. Koshikawa blocked a Zaytsev spike and it was 19-17. Fukuzawa served into the net and it was 20-17. Kovar spiked for 22-19 and Italy had the summit in sight. Japan took a final timeout at 23-20. Shimizu sent a spike wide and it was match point for Italy at 24-21. Kovar ended the affair 25-21 with a flying spike.  


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