- September 4, 5 and 7, 2017
- Milan Pavilion FIPAV Center, Milan, Italy
- Match 1: Italy def. Azerbaijan 3-0 plus extra set (25-18, 25-23, 26-24, 25-15)
- Match 2: Italy def. Azerbaijan 3-2 (22-25, 22-25 , 25-20, 25-22, 15-13)
- Match 3: Azerbaijan def. Italy 3-2 ((25-22, 25-13, 21-25, 20-25, 15-7)
In preparation for the upcoming 2017 Women’s European Championships to be held later this month in Azerbaijan and Georgia, the Italian and Azerbaijani national teams held a series of three friendlies in Milan, Italy.
With Italy leading 9-6 in the first set on Tuesday, setter Ofelia Malinov fractured her right ankle and was replaced by Alessia Orro, who helped lead her side to a three-set victory, plus a 25-15 win in an extra set. The Italians were led by 17 points from outside Caterina Bosetti and 12 from middle blocker Cristina Chirichella, while opposite Polina Rahimova paced the Azerbaijani side with 24 points.
The following evening, the Italians had a much tougher time closing out their opponents, this time needing to rebound from a two-set deficit to win 15-13 in the fifth. Italian outside Paola Egonu, the 18-year-old breakout star from the recent FIVB World Grand Prix, led all scorers with 29 points, while Azerbaijan got a 14-point contribution from Natalya Mammadova.
In the third friendly, Azerbaijan again jumped to a 2-0 lead before the Italian side stormed back to force the tiebreaker set. This time, however, the visitors prevailed 15-7, led by Rahimova’s 24 points and Natalya Mammadova’s 22. The Italians were paced by Bosetti’s 17-p0int night.
The Women’s European Championships run from September 22 through October 1, with Azerbaijan opening against Hungary in Pool 1 and the Italians facing Georgia in their first match in Pool B. On Friday, the Italians announced their final 14-player roster for the championships, which includes setter Carlotta Cambi as a replacement for Malinov.