Bologna, Italy, September 22, 2018 - In a sold-out PalaDozza in Bologna Australia and Belgium delivered a real show to entertain the fans, who came in large numbers to watch elite volleyball on Saturday afternoon. However, the winner is only one and the Red Dragons were the ones to celebrate in the end 3-0 (28-26, 28-26, 25-20). The ‘men of the match’ were Igor Grobelny and Sam Deroo, who, taking the initiative in the most important moments of the match and being fully focused, scored point after point.
Although Belgium were trailing in the score most of the time in the first two sets, Grobelny (18) together with captain Sam Deroo (23) fought back for the decisive balls and it resulted in the Red Dragons having the upper hand. This made them feel more confident and in the third set, they took the initiative from the very first moment to seal a 3-0 victory.
On the other hand, Australia could not find their rhythm in the end of the sets. Captain Paul Carroll was most efficient for his team, recording 16 points to his name.
The fans that had decided to spend their Saturday afternoon in PalaDozza contributed to a great party. Each time the name of Belgium head coach Andrea Anastasi resonated, a big applause followed to show respect to one of the living legends in Italian volleyball. The players on the bench of the Australian team also took part in the entertainment in Bologna, as they interacted with the fans during the timeouts, waving at them, showing special ‘choreographies’ and inspiring everybody to enjoy volleyball.
The game went point-for-point in the first moments of the match, but Australia took a small lead thanks to one ace and one block. The Australian captain Paul Carroll was performing well and he helped his team claim a three-point lead at 16-13. Igor Grobelny responded immediately with fast attacks and being impeccable in the last minutes even helped the Red Dragons equalise at 22-22. The pressure was high on both sides as they let errors on the serve affect the set score at 23-23. However, after a close game, Carroll showed what a true captain is supposed to do in the decisive moments and gave Australia set point after an ace at 26-25. It turned out this was not enough, as on the other side was Grobelny again (nine points in the set), who put an end to the discussion at 28-26 in favour of Team Belgium.
The second set unfolded in a similar way in the beginning with Australia leading at 4-2. Even though they equalised at 6-6 and 7-7, the Red Dragons made two serve errors and the first timeout came with the result standing at 8-7 for the Volleyroos. Although Belgium were following them in the result, the Australians kept a small gap at 21-19, and supported by the fans, they gave their best. Despite some good play in defence for Australia, Pieter Verhees from Belgium brought back the intrigue at 22-21. Australia could not finish the set, despite having their opportunities and lost it with the same result as the previous one at 26-28.
The Red Dragons started better in the third set as they were leading at 8-4. Australia got closer at 10-10. Deroo was doing great on the field and despite Australia's attempts to mount a comeback, Belgium were determined to close the match at 3-0 and eventually they did so at 25-20.