Paola Egonu and Italvolley knocked out and off the podium
It ends with a defeat, the second consecutive one, the’European Championships of CT Davide Mazzanti’s Italy. After the knockout in the semifinals with Turkey, the azzurre gave way to the Netherlands in the final 3°-4° place ending the continental review at the foot of the podium despite the good offensive performances of Pietrini and Antropova. Tomorrow the Azzurri will return to Italy with a direct flight from Brussels to Fiumicino and after a few days of break will start preparing for the Olympic qualifying tournament scheduled in Poland (Lodz) from September 16 to 24.
The last starting six of the European Championships chosen by Mazzanti does not present any big surprises: Orro at the direction, Antropova opposite, Sylla-Pietrini as setters, Danesi and Lubian at the center, and Fersino as libero. Felix Koslowski’s Netherlands responds with Van Aalen at setter, Plak opposite, Daalderop and Jasper at setter, Lohuis and Baijens at center, and Reesink at libero. The start of the match è balanced and immediately vibrant: Lubian and Danesi in the middle respond to Baijens and Lohuis while in the band it is Jasper and Pietrini who move the scoreboard 5-5. A one-on-one wall by Orro on Jasper and an ace by Antropova give +2 to Italy, which suddenly lends its side to the plays at center by Lohuis and Baijens that bring the Netherlands 13-17 forcing Mazzanti to timeout. Pietrini and a Lubian mural put the Azzuras back in the slipstream but with two consecutive wall invasions and a monster block by Daalderop on Egonu, Holland flies to 16-20. A break that Sylla and her teammates try to sew up, finding in the Italian captain and Antropova the weapons to sew it back up to 23-24 with Antropova serving. The class 2003 opposite misses però the service conceding the first set to the Dutch national team (23-25).
The script does not change in the second set despite a 4-1 opening partial of the Azzurri signed by Pietrini. The Netherlands held its own, responding with Daalderop and the usual center court play of Baijens and Lohuis keeping the Orange in touch (9-9). The Azzurri are unable to shake off the Netherlands, which even puts the arrow in with Jasper and two muroni by Lohuis on the newly-entered Degradi (for Pietrini). The Azzurri lost measures and rhythm and despite the double change (Egonu-Bosio for Antropova-Orro) the Netherlands ran away 17-21 with only Antropova to keep Mazzanti’s offense afloat. The gap of 4 lengths è the sliding doors of the set: Sylla, two aces by Antropova (and the third not conceded despite the touch in reception not recognized), two Pietrini spells and Lubian’s ace give the setball to the Azzurri (24-23). Antropova is bricked by Jasper who però misses the following serve. Baijens equalizes on a fast serve with Pietrini putting, despite the three-way wall, Italy back one ball from the second set. The usual Baijens cancels the set ball again with Daalderop turning the tables by piercing the Italian wall. Italy’s hopes of a comeback were then dashed by Baijens’ wall stopping Sylla giving the Netherlands a double advantage thanks to the 26-28 partial.
The’inertia of the contest remains firmly in the hands of Daalderop and her teammates even at the start of the third set. Italy tries to play with Pietrini and Antropova but on the other side, the play in the middle with Baijens and some smudges in the reception of the Azzurri bring the Netherlands on 5-7. Sylla and her teammates fail to give continuity to their game suffering from Jasper on offense and Lohuis at the wall the shots of the –3 (9-12). The Azzurri stormed back into the set thanks to Danesi at the wall and a couple of plays in the middle by Lubian (14-14). Then forò Plak came back on, the errors in reception and attack returned and so the’Netherlands flew away (18-22) despite Egonu’s entrance on court for Antropova. To close the match è Daalderop’s attack (20-25) that relegates the Azzurri to the foot of the European podium.