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Zaytsev steadies Italian ship after shaky start

 
Hiroshima, Japan, September 10, 2015 – A 24-point haul from Ivan Zaytsev helped Italy clinch their third win of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup Japan 2015 in Hiroshima on Thursday with a 3-1 (20-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-13) despite an uncomfortable opening two sets.

Zaytsev was the standout player for the victors while Matteo Piano put pressure on the Egyptians at the net with four blocks. Ahmed Abdelhay led Egypt with 15 points.

Egypt came out the starting blocks well, keeping Italy in check with a two-point lead at the first technical timeout. The European side struggled to find a foothold in the match, with coach Lorenzo Belgrini earning a yellow card for a time delay. A failed challenge allowed Egypt to go three-up as they continued to find their rhythm. Pasquale Sottile’s introduction brought Italy one closer at 23-20 after an intelligent set from the 36-year old for Simone Giannelli, but the Egyptians were not to be denied as an Osmany Juantorena error gave them the set.

The African champions continued where they left off in the second, with their serve causing Italy all sorts of problems. But the world No.4 began to come to life as they took the lead for the first time in the match before a series of Zaytsev serves helped them extend to 10-7. However they were again their own worst enemy as a miscommunication on serve reception and an Egypt block saw them surrender the lead. Italy needed to respond and did just that, regaining control and winning the set despite a dogged Egyptian fight. 

Italy’s victory in the second set gave them a new found confidence moving into the third and they quickly asserted their dominance, taking a four point lead at 11-7. A superb dig and spike by Zaytsev kept Italy in front and that was extended to 21-16 as the side began to find their stride. A late Egypt run could not save them as the Italians took the lead for the first time in the match.

The Italian renaissance continued to flourish, with Zaytsev unleashing several big attacks. Egypt had played two five-setters against Canada and Japan on the opening two days and fatigue began to take its toll with Italy pushing on. A serve error concluded the game as Egypt still wait for that first win.

FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup

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