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24/11/14
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Italy advances to ½ Final!

Italy beat Finland in 3-1 (25-18, 25-20, 29-31, 25-21). The „Suomi“ seemed to suffer from their short relaxtion time and needed two sets to get rid of their tiredness from yesterday’s Playoff Match. In the end, one claimed set was the maximum for Finland.

itatopFinland’s prayers went unanswered in the first set – Italy got over their their troubles in the begin of the matches and started without any problems. So Finland wanted to prove at any cost, that they had recovered from their yesterday’s five-set thriller against Slovenia. Especially in the big points Italy had the better end and therefor they took the early lead (14-11). Later in the set Italy made no move to fall back and eventually extended their distance to Finland (20-13). At this time Finnish Coach Daniel Castellani began to change his lineup, but there was no outcome (18-25).

In the second set Finland’s starting lineup included three new players – just the Oivanen-twins and mastermind Mikko Esko stayed on court. Also risk on service was increased by Finland. Till the second technical time-out (16-15) it seemed to pay off, when Italy increased the pace. Immediately they pulled clear (21-16). Like in the first set, Italy left no doubts on their win and sealed the deal (25-20.)

„All or nothing“ was Finland’s device in the third set. While Italy seemed to get too confident, Finland succeeded in mobilizing their last reserves (11-6). Italian captain Cristian Savani even earned a yellow card (12-6) after not respecting a referee’s call. But this action galvanized his teammates and brought Italy back on track (9-12). As the set continued Italy came closer and closer (17-18) and finally balanced the score (21-21). Italy’s first lead was equivalent to their first match ball (24-23). But the finnish players fought back and prevented Italy’s victory four times before they converted their third opportunity (31-29).

Finland seemed to have overcome their tiredness in the begin of the fourth set, when they suffered another setback (8-12). Despite big finnish efforts, Italy didn’t let Finland advance towards and converted ist fifth match ball to qualify for the semifinals (25-21).

Italy’s captain Cristian Savani contributed 22 points to his team’s win. Mikko Oivanen was again topscorer for Finland (17).

 Italy’s coach Mauro Berruto outspoke his respect for Finland’s performance. „We have to be honest – the schedule was an obvious advantage for us. But they played really good, so weh ad to fight hard. After we lost the third set, we mentally overcame the situation very well.“

 Finnish Coach Daniel Castellani didn’t want to complain about the schedule and explained some other reasons for his team’s defeat. “In my opinion Italy’s has better abilities in servicing and blocking. Moreover, they are able to convert their counter attacks more efficiently.”

 Cristian Savani said that his team had started the match with a high level of concentration. „We were really focused and I think that made it easier for us. This time we didn’t have to run after a residue. Still it wasn’t an easy match for us.“