Italians gather steam for big clash with Japanese
Italy hardly worked up a sweat in thumping Slovenia, practically making an announcement of how ready they are to face Japan in their blockbuster men’s Volleyball Nations League (VNL) match.
A 25-13, 25-22, 25-17 victory carved out in just an hour and 26 minutes at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on Friday made the Italians look super prepared and amped for their 7 p.m. clash with the league-leading Japanese Saturday as they try to stay at the top half of the eight-team field that will advance to the final week in Poland.
“We want to win [again] tomorrow,” Yuri Romano said after drilling the Slovenian defense with 11 attacks on the way to 16 points.
Daniele Lavia and crowd-favorite Alessandro Michieletto scored 13 points each for Italy.
The Italians are 3-0 in the Philippine stop and Romano knows exactly what they are going up against when he was asked of their clash with the Japanese.
“It will be a difficult one.”
The Italians rose to 8-3 overall, with world No. 1 Poland at 8-2 after a 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21 creaming of Brazil in an earlier match that sent the Brazilians out of the top four at 7-4.
Top two teams
The Poles are also undefeated here after dispatching the formidable Brazilians in less than two hours. Japan and the United States occupy the top two spots in the standings with the Americans seeing action in the simultaneous leg in Anaheim, California.
Wilfredo Leon Venero led Poland over the 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Brazil, scattering 22 points built on 20 hits, counting the sharp blast that gave the Poles the slim first-set win.
“We prepare for this kind of games,” Leon Venero said. “Brazil is a very strong team so we knew from the beginning that it will be a tough game. [If we play] our best game, we think it’s enough to win.”
Bartosz Bednorz added 11 points as 2021 VNL MVP Bartosz Kurek had 10 for Poland, which will host the eight-team finale on July 19 to 24 in Gdansk City, where a whopping $1.5 million (around P84 million) is up for the champion.