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Italy down the Netherlands as third weekend of World Grand Prix begins

Italy captain Eleonora Lo Bianco sets as her side see off the Netherlands in Tokyo on Friday
Tokyo, Japan, August 20, 2010 – Italy overcame the Netherlands in straight sets (29-27, 25-16, 25-15) in the first game of the third preliminary round of the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix on Friday.

Italy now has a 5-2 record, while the Dutch fell to 3-4 with two matches remaining before qualification to the final round in Ningbo, China. 

Serena Ortolani led Italy with 16 points, while Manon Flier was the top scorer for the Netherlands with 14.

In the early stages of the first set there was nothing to separate the two teams. Italy was one point ahead at the first technical timeout, but quickly stretched that to three points thanks to a Dutch error and a fine block by Jenny Barazza on the hard-hitting Flier. Another Dutch error put Italy four points up at the second TTO, but the Dutch were hard to shake off and reduced the gap to just one point after a spike by Antonella Del Core failed to land inside the court. A couple of good spikes by Lucia Bosetti helped put Italy back in the driving seat at 22-18, but the Dutch worked their way back into the set, saving two set points and drawing level at 24-24. The Netherlands then had two set points that they couldn't convert, before Ortolani gave Italy the advantage again. A missed spike by Flier ended the set at 29-27.

Again, nothing separated the two sides up until 6-6 in the second set, but then the Dutch failed to get the ball back and saw Flier miss a spike. Chaine Staelens helped bring the Dutch back on level terms at 10-10 before Italy opened up a three-point lead at the second TTO, despite successive misses by Ortolani. The Dutch helped Italy with a couple of errors of their own and were five points adrift at 20-15. From there they only scored one more point – a long hit by Del Core – as Italy finished off the set with a hit by Ortolani concluding proceedings and sending the 2009 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup winners into a 2-0 lead.

Once again, there was nothing to choose between the two teams at the start of the third set, the only difference being the Dutch had the advantage at the first TTO, assisted by two thunderous spikes from Flier and a rocket service ace from the same player. But the Italians edged ahead after Flier was twice blocked by Ortolani and they were four points ahead at the second TTO. Some sloppy play by the Dutch allowed Italy to extend their lead, with the score going from 16-13 to 22-13. Bosetti had the honour of closing out the match – a spike bringing matchpoint and another good hit wrapping things up.

Italy will take on hosts Japan in their second match as they strive for a place in the final round while the Netherlands will aim to win every match from now on, starting with the Dominican Republic tomorrow, as they try to keep alive any hopes of continuing their campaign.


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