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Italy struggles to beat Dominican Republic in gruelling five-set thriller

Italian players seeking for the right boost in their opening match against the Dominican Republic

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 3, 2009 - In-form Italy started confidently against the nervous Dominican Republic. After initially going down 0-5, Dominican head coach Enrique Larrazaleta asked for time-out to improve his team’s erratic play. However, the Dominicans’ more determination could not do that much. The Italians stretched the lead to 11-3 and stormed on their glittering form, with the towering Valentina Diouf, 202cm tall and the tournament’s tallest player, tearing the rivals’ defence with her exceptional cross-court spikes. Italy clinched the opening set 25-17.

The second set turned out to be a tightly-contested scrimmage as both sides took turns leading. Italy advanced to 24-21, but could not finish their task as Diouf made a serving mistake. The Dominicans came back to life after catching the rivals 24-24. They rolled on their rhythm to bag the close set 26-24.

Dominican Republic took the initial lead 19-15 in the third set, thanks largely to Ana Yorkira Binet Stephens’s fierce spikes at the net. It was the similar fashion moments later when both sides exchanged leads for several times. Leading 24-23, Italy came up with mistakes, giving the rivals a strong comeback. The Dominicans countered-attack fiercely to win the see-saw battle 28-26.
The Italians found their touch in the fourth set as they wrapped up the comfortable tussle 25-17. Italy continued their remarkable form to win the do-or-die tie-breaker 15-11 and the exhausting battle.




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