Milan, Italy, September 23, 2018 – The match between Italy and the Netherlands closed the programme of Pool E in Milan. The hosts claimed a 3-1 victory (16-25, 25-20, 27-25, 25-15) much to the delight of the 12,700 fans in attendance. With a truly spectacular performance, spiker Luigi Randazzo was the man of the match as he scored 23 points to top the charts followed by a convincing Gabriele Nelli with 19. Thijs ter Horst and Michael Parkinson top scored for the Netherlands with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini decided to use most of his substitute players and the Netherlands used this move to their advantage to claim a 13-7 lead. Italy had problems in organising a good offensive system (they scored only 38% of their attempts in attack) and their opponents easily moved the score to 20-12. Randazzo attempted to shorten the distance (16-22), but the Netherlands were on fire and secured the win at 25-16.
The second set was a close run up to 8-8, until Randazzo thrilled the venue with two powerful spikes that broke the balance (10-8). The Azzurri shook off the somber mood and changed gear to make it 15-10. Parkinson attempted a comeback for 14-16, but Italy attacked from the back row and raised impressive blocks to slow down the spikes of Dutch captain Nimir Abdel-Aziz, thus reaching a comprehensive lead at 21-14. Courtesy of too many errors on the Italian side, the Netherlands got back on track for 20-22, but an ace by Davide Candellaro and a spike by Jeroen Rauwerdink, which went out of bounds, re-opened the match for Italy (25-20).
The Netherlands took a flying start to the third set (6-3). Randazzo broke through the height of the Dutch block and reached the score of 6-8, but the strong performance of Ter Horst determined a huge leap ahead for the Netherlands at 18-12. Randazzo, again, was pivotal for Italy in the surprising comeback for 20-21. In the thrilling final points, Italy managed to squeeze through with an ace by Candellaro (27-25).
The show was on also in the fourth set with the score levelled at 6-6. Italy eventually called for the first technical timeout (8-6). Dutch coach Gido Vermeulen took his team to the bench twice (7-10, 9-15) but he was not able to trigger a reaction as Italy kept the momentum and cruised to a spectacular 25-15 win that sparked much euphoria among the fans in attendance.