Unstoppable Juantorena takes Italy to third straight victory


Florence, Italy, September 15, 2018 - Italy confirmed their leadership in Pool A after securing the third victory in a row in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship as they beat Argentina 3-1 (22-25, 25-15, 25-23, 28-26). The hosts have three victories to their name – as many as Slovenia, but Slovenia sit in second place as they ‘only’ won 3-2 against Belgium on Saturday. Italy and Slovenia will most likely clash for the top spot when locking horns on Tuesday. Osmany Juantorena delivered a superb performance with 23 points combined together with 45% perfect reception to become the ‘man of the match’ for the Italians.

Ivan Zaytsev added 20 points for Italy as setter Simone Giannelli played a superb match as well. Italy’s middle blockers performed very well too, to put the icing on the cake. On the other side of the net, Cristian Poglajen was by far the most efficient player for Argentina with 18 points (14 attacks, plus 2 aces and 2 blocks).

After analysing each other’s game for a while, Italy edged ahead at 9-6 but the hosts made a few mistakes to dissipate their advantage. Argentina eventually claimed a small lead with a pipe by Facundo Conte; Poglajen with 8 points and 50% perfect reception, three aces and the good game by setter Maximiliano Cavanna produced a first-set win for the South Americans.

After a close start, Italy scored five points in a row in the second set, a blow that Argentina could not recover from for the rest of the set. Italy had a 16-12 lead at the second technical timeout, which they further extended to 23-13 with the help of Giannelli who used all of his teammates. Juantorena was the top scorer in this set with 9 points including the final one as Zaytsev scored eight times for Italy.  

Argentina rushed to an 8-6 lead in the third set thanks to some Italian mistakes. However, Juantorena and Filippo Lanza restored equality at 9-9 before Zaytsev made it 11-9. Two Italian mistakes made sure the score was even again. A Giannelli’s spectacular one-hand back pass allowed Zaytsev to spike versus a one-man block to go ahead 23-22. Shortly afterwards, Daniele Mazzone closed the set at 25-23 with a fast attack through the middle.

Italy did not want to lose control and quickly stormed to an 11-3 lead in the fourth set, with four points by Zaytsev. Argentina tried to stop the Italian run with the help of their backup opposite José Luis Gonzalez and a couple of good blocks. However, Juantorena was again on a class of his own to make it 16-9 for the home side. Argentina shortened the distance with a three-point run and two Italian mistakes gave Argentina two set points, both cancelled by Zaytsev. Mazzone’s block pushed Italy ahead again and after taking to the court for the first time, Michele Baranowicz sealed the victory with an ace (28-26).