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Slovakia turns a tough nut to crack for Italy before going down in grueling five sets

Italians jump to block a spike from Slovakian Nikola Radosova.

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 4, 2009 – After an exhausting five-set battle against Dominican Republic on the previous day, Italy experienced another grueling encounter against Slovakia as they utilized their power and height advantage to beat the fighting rivals in a hard-fought five-set thriller 25-17 19-25 25-17 19-25 15-6.
 The Italians, who finished third place in the European Championship and a disappointing 12th in the previous world meet in Mexico two years ago, opened up with aggressive attack led by the towering 202cm Valentina Diouf, who led the team with 21 points comprising 17 kills and four stuff blocks. Italy bagged the first set easily 25-17.
 Slovakia heightened their defence, giving the rivals tough times scoring. Trailing narrowly 8-9, the Slovakians improved on their ball reception and blocking to close the margin at 10-10, 14-14 and 17-17. They went on their superb form to win the set 25-19.
 Diouf was the Italy’s comeback in the third set as she used her height advantage at the net to spike devastatingly and block scintillatingly to help the Italians win the set 25-17.
 In the fourth set, Slovakia started strongly to capture the pole position 17-14 before the Italians stormed back to close the gap at 18-18. However, the Slovakians were in dominant form. They played exceptionally well to foil all the Italian attempts. Slovakia claimed the set 25-19.
 Diouf became a spiking machine in the decider as she jumped from all angles to spike effectively and score crucial points for Italy. The Italians eventually won the deciding set 15-6 and the marathon match.




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