Italy held off a German fightback to record their third straight win in the FIVB World Grand Prix on Sunday, beating the Germans 25-23, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20 in Montichiari. Germany’s record fell to 1-2.
Carolina Costagrande was the Italians’ main weapon, notching up 21 points, including five blocks. Heike Beier was the top scorer for Germany with 16 points. Italy outblocked Germany 17-10.
The beginning of the first set was a nightmare for Italy as they came under pressure from the serves of Maren Brinker and fell behind 2-10. Caterina Bosetti’s serves inspired Italy to make a comeback and Costagrande came good thanks to some good setting by Noemi Signorile. Italy clawed their way back and eventually took the lead at 18-17 on a second-line attack by Valentina Diouf. A decisive block by Martina Guiggi on Kozuch gave Italy the set at 25-23.
With Italy in difficulty again at 4-8 in the second set, the Germans started to struggle with their digging and Signorile took advantage to bring her team back into the contest. Diouf had a good service spell and Italy went ahead at 13-12 with good blocking by Guiggi and Bosetti that put them 16-13 ahead at the second technical timeout. Costagrande then shone in the final stages with crushing attacks and blocks, making four of the final six points as Italy took the set 25-20.
The third set was highly competitive and Italy had the chance to finish the match off but blew two match points, allowing Germany to take the set 26-24 and extend the match.
Italy coach Marco Mencarelli made some changes in the fourth set, bringing in Indre Sorokaite for Diouf and Cristina Chirichella for Guiggi. After an even start, Italy’s superior blocking proved to be the difference and they were able to ease to a 25-20 win and wrap up the match.