2017 FIVB VOLLEYBALL WORLD GRAND PRIX – GROUP 1 SEMIFINALS
- Group 1 Semifinals
- August 5th, 2017
- Nanjing, China
- FIVB World Grand Prix, Semifinals Match #1
Two matches in, and two big upsets in Nanjing in the semi-finals of the women’s FIVB Grand Prix.
After a very young Brazil team upset the Olympic silver medalists Serbia in the early game, Italy rode the powerful right arm of Paola Egonu to a win over the hosts and Olympic champions China in the nightcap.
Egonu started out the Grand Prix slow, with limited action in the team’s first game and scoring only two points. She emerged in their 2nd against the United States, where Italian coach Mazzanti Davide went to her in the 2nd set of a blowout and she led the team in scoring with 12 points in spite of playing just over 1 set in the match.
From there, she’s been on a roll.
That fateful loss to the Americans has begotten the emergence of a player who could be the world’s next great superstar. Her match-by-match scoring output:
- 7/7 vs. China (L 3-1): 2 points
- 7/8 vs. United States (L 3-0): 12 points
- 7/9 vs. Russia (W 3-2): 39 points
- 7/14 vs. China (W 3-0): 21 points
- 7/15 vs. USA (W 3-2): 31 points
- 7/16 vs. Turkey (W 3-0): 12 points
- 7/21 vs. Turkey (W 3-1): 23 points
- 7/22 vs. Dominican (W 3-0): 9 points
- 7/23 vs. Thailand (L 3-0): DNP
- 8/3 vs. USA (W 3-1): 32 points
- 8/4 vs. Serbia (L 3-1): DNP
After 32 points in a 3-1 win over the United States to open the Final 6, she didn’t play against Serbia in the team’s last game – their route to the semi-finals already assured. She returned to the court on Saturday, however, with a day’s rest and rocketed 26 points against the world’s #1 team – with 25 kills and a block.
Egonu’s big day was crucial for the Italian victory, but it was the performance of captain Cristina Chirichella that put the team over the top. She had 10 kills, 2 blocks, and 2 aces for Italy, marking just her third double-digit scoring output of the tournament. She too sat out the loss to Serbia (the Italian coach has proven a propensity to worry less about seed than rest and advancement), and looked fresh in Saturday’s victory.
Italy wasn’t able to neutralize China’s captain and the world’s most dominant player Zhu Ting, who still had 21 points, but they were able to frustrate the rest of her team in the match with 13 blocks – including 3 each from sisters Lucia Bosetti and Caterina Bosetti.
Both teams hit 44%, but for China that fell to under 40% for the team not named Zhu.
Italy was the more aggressive of the two teams, which nearly cost them in the match. They had 26 hitting errors (including 12 for the feast-or-famine Egonu), while China had just 16. Zhu’s efficiency percentage was .469 as compared to just .250 for Egonu, but Egonu still landed far more shots than her Chinese counterpart.
Italy had three players in double digit digs in the match, including 13 from Monica De Gennaro.
Italy advances to play the defending Grand Prix champions Brazil in Sunday’s championship match. This is Italy’s 3rd World Grand Prix finals appearance. They’ve played and lost to Brazil in each of their two prior appearances.
Video Highlights and Full Replay: