Italy excite fans with nervy five-set win over China
• This was the 20th match between the pair in World Grand Prix history. Italy’s victory was their 11th over their Asian counterparts
• Italy’s win also sees them gain revenge after their loss to China during last year’s Final Round
• It is the seventh time out of the two team’s last eight matches that five sets have been needed to decide the winner
• Italy’s Nadia Centoni topped the scores with 23 points
Italy began the opening set well, buoyed by their passionate home support. They managed to maintain a comfortable gap over the visitors and rarely looked troubled as they took a 1-0 lead.
But China woke up in the second and reacted to their opening set loss by dominating at the net to make the scores level.
The third set saw the match come alive, with plenty of competition in both block and attack. It was the first time either side had properly tested each other, and Marco Bonitta’s girls needed all their strength to once again take the lead at 2-1 to the delight of the home fans.
However China were not going away easily as they forced the Italians into the tie-break, taking the fourth set.
But Italy again dug deep in the fifth, desperate to give the vocal support something to cheer about. They took the lead early on in the set and refused to surrender it, clinching the match in the process.