Ivan Zaytsev spikes the ball against Belgian block as Italy defeats Belgium 3-0
Sydney, Australia, June 18, 2016 - Italy put the disappointment of the opening night’s 3-0 loss to France behind them, beating Belgium 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-21). The team was led by a dominant display of setter Simone Giannelli.
Italy and Belgium have never met before in the World League. For the Red Dragons this a debut season in the competition's Group 1 after Group 2 finalists of the 2015 were included in the higher division. Italy started the 2016 campaign with a straight sets loss to France, while Belgium downed hosting team Australia with the same score. Setter Simone Giannelli was the main author of Italy's good performance while Luca Vettori was the best scorer for his team. On Belgium's side Gert Van Walle took the scoring on his shoulders.
The Italians were denied the chance to get into Friday’s match, but against an error-prone Belgium side they attacked from the outset. After looking well off the pace against France 24 hours earlier, the Italians looked sharp and focused in the opening set against their European rivals. At the net especially they were damaging, with Piano and Zaytsev making it hard for Belgium to mount attacks. Belgium was also making mistakes – by set’s end they had accumulated six to Italy’s two, a reflection of the pressure being applied by Italy. Belgium was doing a half decent job of defending as well. Simon Van De Voorde and Gert Van Walle put up several impressive blocks, but it was not enough for Belgium to stem the Italian tide.
Belgium received a dressing down from coach Dominique Baeyens between sets, and it did the job. They took a comfortable early lead as it was the Italians turn to clock up the errors. At 13-9 and 15-10 Belgium, with Van Walle, Van De Voorde and Deroo finding their groove, looked set to level the score at 1-all. But Italian setter, Simone Giannelli, was running into hot form. Not only was he giving his outsides a very comfortable ride, but he was being inventive at the net and tormenting the Belgians, helping Italy back into the set. The Italians took the lead for the first time at 21-20, and there was no turning back for the Belgians.
The Italian comeback temporarily took the wind out of the Belgian sails, with that man, Giannelli, running hot with six service points to give Italy a 6-0 early lead in the third set. The Belgian error count continued to cause problems, not helped by a dominant and confident Italian display led by Luca Vettori, who finished with 17 points.