Italy beaten by Japan, finishes fourth -

Italy beaten by Japan, finishes fourth -

Of Pierfrancesco Catucci

Fresh from the defeat against the United States, Fef De Giorgi's Azzurri lose the bronze medal against the Japanese: it ends 2-3

An Italy with two faces: numb for the first two sets and still trapped by the ghosts seen in the semifinal against the United States, then decidedly more effective and in the end still under a train, lost 3-2 against Japan in the final for the third place of the Nations League (25-18, 25-23, 17-25, 17-25, 9-15). A podium that the Japanese celebrate as a victory and that they had never reached before. Against the team coached by the Frenchman Blain, as indeed against all the Asian formations, we know that we need to arm ourselves with patience because they always defend and replay a lot. Italy, on the other hand, seems to be in a hurry, getting caught up, letting itself be carried away by its mistakes and unable to put quality into its game. The coach tries to remind his team to look forward rather than back, but the one that enters the field an unserene formation, decidedly different (in the head more than in the men) compared to the one that had surprised everyone at the European and World Championships. And so, like last year in Bologna, the Azzurri stop at the foot of the podium. From there, one summer ago, the team that went on to win the World Cup in Poland was born. The European Championship starts at home in a month. Let it at least be auspicious.

The match

De Giorgi confirms yesterday's six plus one with Giannelli dribbling, Roman opposite, Michieletto and Lavia spikers, Galassi and Russo in the center and Balaso libero. Japan assaults the match and take advantage of blue insecurities. The Milanese Ishikawa passes regularly and the opposite Miyaura repeatedly breaks through the blue wall. At a distance, however, Italy regained its compactness: they put their reception and defense in order and began to find good directions in attack. now too late to put a compromised set back on its feet, but a first hint of a reaction in view of the following sets. And, at the start of the second set, Lavia (one of the most struggling at the start of the match) and his team mates play with a different pace. Italy leads the game, keeps a break of 2-3 points ahead, plays a decent volleyball but, ahead 23-21, when it comes to sinking the decisive blow, it still jams. A couple of gratuitous mistakes, all the more Japanese determination and, always down in the set, the Japanese score the decisive shot in the photo finish and go up 2-0.

The comeback halfway

De Giorgi doesn't make any changes and his boys react. Italy raises the level of its game, improves in serving and blocking, while on the other side of the net Japan lowers the tension. The blues immediately conquered a discrete advantage and administered it without too much difficulty until the end. And they continue to run at the same speed even in the fourth set, thanks to a Japanese formation that seems to have run out of petrol. The serve returns to a good level, the block-defense too and Italy takes the match to a tie break which, given how it was after the first two sets, seemed at least unlikely. In the fifth set, however, the national team of the first two returns to the field: never able to put the Japanese in difficultylets himself be overwhelmed and closes the Nations League in fourth place.

July 23, 2023 (change July 23, 2023 | 20:21)

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