Italy stuns Brazil in VNL Manila amid cheers louder than it gets at home | Inquirer Sports
VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE

Italy stuns Brazil in VNL Manila amid cheers louder than it gets at home

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:06 AM July 05, 2023

Italy VNL Manila

Italy in the VNL Manila leg. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Using the final week of the preliminaries to climb up the rankings as high as it can, Italy pounded Brazil with precision from the second set on to get to the right frame of mind heading into the rest of the Italians’ tough Volleyball Nations League for men schedule at Mall of Asia Arena.

“We really needed to win this one,” crowd-favorite Michieletto Alessandro said after a 23-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-21 victory over the Brazilians carved out before an appreciative crowd.

“It was such a tough game,” the 6-foot-9 opposite hitter said after drilling the Brazilian defense with 14 attacks on the way to 17 points. “This win gets us a little higher (in the standings).”

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The Italians were cheered on by fans who paid more than a pretty penny to see world-class action, and the star outside hitter did not take the support for granted.

In fact, the 31-year-old Alessandro expressed appreciation for the Filipino crowd, which forked out sums ranging from P11,000 for VIP seating to P3,000 for lower box.

“[Volleyball] is not like this in Italy,” he said before walking back to their dugout amid shrieks from fans that lined the hallways. “It’s very nice playing here.”

Italy won for the sixth time in nine matches overall and climbed to fifth spot with 18 points and with three games left, all of which will happen in succession after a day’s rest on Wednesday. Italy will take on the Netherlands, Poland and China, in that order.

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“We have to win more games to get higher (in the rankings),” Daniele Lavia, who nailed the match-sealing ace after two hours and 13 minutes, said. “Winning [more games] will give us [an] easier game (in the quarterfinals).

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Tight race

Yuri Romano ITaly VNL

Italy’s Yuri Romano in the VNL Manila leg. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

“We are very happy with this win, and very happy because the fans [inside the venue] are happy,” added Lavia.

Brazil is in third spot behind Japan and the United States, who are playing this window in Anaheim simultaneously. The loss also cut the Brazilians’ lead over the Italians and Slovenia to just one point, making it a tight race for the top four spots and the lighter assignments in the quarterfinals.

Tournament format calls for the 16-nation field to play at least 12 games in the preliminaries, with the top eight teams advancing to the final week for knockout play.

The top-seeded squad plays No. 8; No. 2 battles No. 7; the third-ranked team slugs it out with No. 6 and No. 4 battles No. 5 for the right to advance to the Final Four.

Brazil took the opening frame with authority but suddenly went cold after taking a 4-0 lead in the second.

And that was the opening the Italians needed to get as they pounced on the Brazilians’ error-prone stand from there. Italy, after it had erased that deficit, never trailed until the nip and tuck fourth set.

Yuri Romano led the Italians with 20 points, and skipper Simone Giannelli handled the offense so well that a total of four players scored in twin digits for Italy.

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Offense wasn’t the problem for the Brazilians, who actually out-attacked the Italians, 89-80, but fell in the end after committing 28 boo-boos, 13 more than Italy.

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