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Italy edge China in thrilling five-setter

 
Omaha, USA, July 24, 2015 – Italy edged China 25-15, 22-25, 22-25, 25-18, 15-12 in the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals Friday evening in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Indre Sorokaite led Italy with 25 points, while Miriam Fatime Sylla added 14 points. China was paced by Liu Yanhan’s 18 points and Zhang Changning charted 15 points. Italy held a 15-7 block advantage and 11-8 margin in aces.

Italy earned their first win of the tournament against two setbacks, matching China’s 1-2 record through day three. Italy play Japan (0-3) on Saturday, while China meet Russia (2-0 before tonight’s match with USA).

Italy controlled the early stages of the opening set, reaching the second technical timeout leading 16-4. China charged back to within 19-12, but the early deficit was just too much as Italy finalized the set at 25-15. Sorokaite led Italy with seven points, three of which were aces.

Italy scored four consecutive points capped by a kill and block by Caterina Bosetti at 10-6. China fought back to level the score at 12-all. Zhang Changning served an ace as part of a 3-0 run to put China ahead 15-13, only to have Italy take the lead back at 16-15 on blasts from Miriam Fatime Sylla and Ofelia Malinov. Zhang Xiaoya scored consecutive points at the net and Liu Yanhan served an ace to yield a 19-16 advantage to China. Italy came back to within one at 23-22, but China scored the final two points to level the match.

Italy led by two at the third set technical timeout, but a China block reversed the score to their side at 20-19. Zhang gave China a two-point cushion with a block at 22-20, then won the set 25-22 after winning a spirited rally with marvelous plays on each side.

Italy jumped to a 3-0 advantage in the fourth set following a Lucia Bosetti ace, then Sorokaite lasered an ace to put the Italians up 8-2 at the technical timeout. China took advantage of Italian errors to close the gap to 12-9. Liu Yanhan blocked Italy to move China within one at 13-12. Sorokaite put down three kills and a block in an 8-1 run allowing Italy to go up 21-14. Lucia Bosetti hit the final winner at 25-18. 

China took a 6-3 advantage in the deciding set after consecutive Italian attack errors and a Liu Xiaotong kill. Italy bounced back with three quick points as Sylla slammed the attack to tie the set 6-all. Lucia Bosetti hammered a spike to yield Italy the 8-7 lead the court switch. Liu Xiaotong hit a cross-court winner giving China the lead back at 9-8. Wang Mengjie formed a monster block lifting China up 11-9. Sorokaite got Italy even at 11-all with a block. Italy took the lead back at 13-12 on a China attack error, then Cristina Chirichella put up a block at 14-12. Italy finished the set with an ace at 15-12.

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