Russia claimed its place in the World Championships final six with a sweep of Finland, behind 18 points by substitute Victor Polataev. Italy rested all of its starters and still came out with a 3-1 win over the Netherlands to remain atop the group.
Ivan Zaytsev led Italy with 16 points as they beat China for the second day in a row. Italy will start the World Championships on Sunday against Japan in Rome.
Italy has whittled their roster from 16 to 14, including the elimination of an Olympic silver medalist. (Superstar Ivan Zaytsev, above, is included in the team).
Led by 21 points from Ivan Zaytsev (above) Italy was dominant in the first match, and then in the 2nd, the Netherlands won by the same 3-2 score that they recorded in the final of the 1996 Olympic Games.
Simone Anzani (above) and Italy will play a pair of friendlies against world #25 the Netherlands in early August.
Having spent all his life in Trentino, first with the youth teams, then with the senior team, this will feel like a homecoming for Nelli
With the top three teams in the VNL standings plus seventh place Italy in Pool 20, it could be considered the group of death in terms of toughness. The Russians and Americans are just mere points away from the Final Six, while Italy will rely on home court advantage to push through.
Korea dominated the offensive side of the ball and Italy excelled at the net before the Italians eventually hung on for the five-set victory. In a match featuring three deuce sets, all in extra points, a 12-kill advantage was the difference in a four-set Australian win.
In what was Italy’s 500th world level victory, the team rode a balanced scoring effort and strong net play to a four-set win over China to kick off VNL Week 4. Twelve blocks and 32 Korean miscues gifted Australia a four-set win on Friday.
Dawid Konarski and Bartosz Kwolek made their way back into the starting lineup for Poland and made the most of it, combining for 35 points in a four-set win on Sunday. Meanwhile, forty-three errors undid Italy in a five-set loss to host Japan.