Italy books final week appearance in VNL, but faces tough task of crawling up standings | Inquirer Sports
NOW THE HARD PART

Italy books final week appearance in VNL, but faces tough task of crawling up standings

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:15 AM July 07, 2023

Italy VNL Manila

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

Dragged to the limit by a foe that had nothing more to lose, Italy on Thursday needed to dig deep to carve out a 25-14, 23-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-9 win over Canada to safely make the final week of the men’s Volleyball Nations League (VNL).

But that is just half the job for the Italians.

“It’s going to be very hard, but we will try to get as high in the rankings (as we can),” Yuri Romano said as Italy closes out against Slovenia and then unbeaten Japan in the next two days starting on Friday to stay in the top half of the draw that will advance to the last stage to be held in Poland.

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“It’s very hard to finish top four,” Romano said after helping Italy take a 4-0 lead at the start of the fifth which proved enough to hold off the game Canadians. “But we will try very hard. The remaining games will be tough, especially against Japan.”

The Japanese are the only unbeaten side in the 16-nation event and everyone would be taking shots at them starting with Friday’s schedule when they battle back-to-the-wall The Netherlands in the 7 p.m. contest also at Mall of Asia Arena.

Italy rose to 7-3 like Brazil, which pushed The Netherlands to the wall earlier after a 25-21, 25-15, 25-20 victory.

Two days after being taken down by the Italians here, the Brazilians pounced on the weary Dutch—who returned to the floor less than 20 hours after a grind-out win over the Canadians—to rise to 7-3 overall heading into the final three playdates.

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Honorato Nobrega and Saatkamp Lucas scored 10 points each for the Brazilians, who battle Poland on Friday and China the following day, trying to stay at the top half of the quarterfinal draw to earn a relatively lighter assignment in the quarterfinals.

Blown lead

The Netherlands VNL volleyball

The Netherlands in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL). –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

The Dutch slumped to a level 5-5 record and opened the door to France and Serbia, which are playing in the simultaneous leg in Anaheim, California. The French and the Serbs have 4-5 records.

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“We need to play very well in our final two games,” Michieletto Alessandro, the crowd-darling who top-scored with 18 points, said when asked of the remainder of their schedule. “We will play very strong teams, especially Japan.”

Canada lost for the second straight game here to be at 2-8, although it bravely fought off an early end against the Italians by coming back from 21-23 down in the fourth set to forge the decider.

“They were very tough,” Alessandro said. “We needed to play our best.”

Only the top eight teams will be advancing after the completion of schedule on Sunday before action goes to Poland for the knockout stages.

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The top-seeded team will battle No. 8; No. 2 slugs it out with No. 7; the third-ranked squad takes on No. 6 and Nos. 4 and 5 clash in no-tomorrow games to determine the final four teams that will keep their shots at the $1.5 million (roughly P84M) champion’s prize.

TAGS: Canada, Italy, VNL, Volleyball Nations League (VNL)

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