Tokyo, Japan, September 21, 2015 – Russia’s chances of a top two finish at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup Japan 2015
, and a place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, were all but ended as a rampaging Italy beat them in straight sets (25-15, 26-24, 25-18) as the action in Tokyo began.
Italy gained revenge for their loss to the same side in the finals of the 2013 European Championship final, as the Russia’s error count – 26 in total – counted against them. Ivan Zaytsev scored 20 points in the win and Italy also scored seven aces in total.
It would have been disappointing viewing for Russia coach Vladimir Alekno, however, as his side failed to find any kind of rhythm throughout the match.
Russia may have taken the early lead in the match, but Zaytsev, who alongside Osmany Juantorena was, as usual, key for Italy, sprung into life, hammering home a spike to take Italy ahead at 10-7. He furthered their lead at 17-11 with a great ace and followed up with a spike, forcing Alekno into a timeout. The move was in vain, however, as Italy blew away the Russians, winning the opener 25-15.
The Italians trailed early in the second set as Russia improved on their attacking. But a Zaytsev kill gave the world No.4 the lead at 11-10. They stayed in the lead until Russia pulled even at 21-all. An unsuccessful challenge put Italy ahead 23-21 before Artem Volvich blocked to again draw level at 23-all. Russia stayed close on 24-all before a stuff block from Simone Gianelli on Dmitriy Muserskiy put Italy two ahead.
Russia’s failure to find any kind of rhythm meant Italy built up a four point lead on 9-6 at the start of the third. A one handed set from captain Simone Buti and a follow up spike from Juantorena extended that lead to 13-8. Russia’s play went from bad to worse as their error count skyrocketed. With their heads down, Italy powered to the win to stay in contention for a Rio 2016 Olympic Games berth.