Turin, Italy, September 26, 2018 - A shocking start for Italy as the hosts of the 2018 FIVB Men's World Championship Final Six were hammered by the veteran outside hitter of Serbia Marko Ivovic in a clear 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-18), despite 11,700 warm and enthusiastic fans on their side.
Some 11,700 people supporting you can be a bit too much to handle, especially in the beginning: it might take a while before you can collect all their energy and make it yours.
Italy just couldn't, in their first night as hosts of the Final Six in Turin, against too much Serbia.
Ivovic's serve was the spring to every Serbian effort: impressive for power and accuracy (4 aces, 5 errors).
Italy, on the other hand, could not repeat their formidable offensive performances: the outside hitters were encaged in Nikola Grbic's strategy (both Filippo Lanza and Osmany Juantorena below 40% efficiency), and home hero Ivan Zaytsev encountered strong opposition (29% attack and only 9 points in the end).
Italy eventually gained some momentum early in the third set thanks to killer blocks: Daniele Mazzone (5) provided plenty.Italy captain Ivan Zaytsev clearly not happy as the hosts lose to Serbia on the opening day of the 2018 FIVB World Championship final round in Turin.
Coach Gianlorenzo Blengini tried to strenghten reception by introducing Gabriele Maruotti for Lanza, and to change the setting strategy by letting in Michele Baranowicz in for Simone Giannelli, but nothing changed: team defense and a solid all-around contribution by Aleksandar Atanasijevic with 19 points allowed Serbia to always keep the lead, proving once again that their difficult path to the Final Six has now made them stronger psychologically.
Serbia now have a chance to find a place in the semifinals with one day of advantage, as they face Poland in the second match, with Italy now supporting Ivovic & co. in the hope to face Poland with even odds on Friday.
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