Italy's back for gold after ten years
2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship - Men
Gdynia, Poland, September 1, 2012. Ten years after their success in Katowice, Italy got the right to fight once again for European glory as the young guys coached by Marco Bonitta cruised to a 3-1 win (25-14, 23-25, 25-22, and 25-20) over Turkey in the first semi on Saturday. After an easy start, things got more complicated for the “Azzurri” as their quality in defense decreased significantly in comparison with the opening set while Turkey had on the other hand stepped up the intensity of their game. Bonitta was eventually right in not changing much to his starting six, his guys re-grouped and eventually pulled out what was enough to make it to the final and challenge there the winner of the second semi starring Spain and Belgium.
To confirm the massive development of the sport in the country, Turkey was celebrating their first appearance in a semifinal of the men’s junior European Champs whereas Italy was back in the top 4 six years after the bronze medal claimed back in 2006. Actually with the last gold medal for the “Azzurri” dating back to 2002 as the Championship was held in Katowice, Poland may be seen as a good omen for the campaign of the Italians and they actually started out quite strong (8:3) showing quality and determination to impose immediately their own tempo. Italy’s block was just perfectly positioned and turned into some kind of a wall for Turkey’s attackers (11:3); after a short black-out whereby Turkey scored four points in a row, Italy got back on track and clearly went to the front by the second technical time-out (16:8), helped by the flurry of mistakes committed by Turkey’s spikers. Probably influenced by a task that had turned out to be easier than expected, the Italians had another couple of ups and downs before they could close the set at 25-14 on a serving error by Turkey.
Things looked pretty encouraging for Italy also in the early phases of the second set (8:5), as Turkey’s offense was once again very faulty; the match got some more intensity as Turkey got closer in the score (10:9) and eventually flipped the charts around by profiting of some awful actions showed by the Italians, especially by Luca Borgogno, in reception. Turkey was up 16:14 as the teams joined their coaches for the second technical time-out and after trailing by four, Italy completed their chase by drawing level at 22 via an excellent serving turn of Borgogno. Turkey had a set ball at 24:23 and eventually avoided the risk of a close final rush by pocketing that first opportunity with an ace.
In set 3 Emre Senol got Turkey to the front with a couple of solid jump serves (5:3) and Italy, again hampered by a shaky reception, started a chase that was finally completed at 15 all via a Turkish error. The “Azzurri” got to the front for the first time as they completed a counterattack with their opposite Sandro Caci (18:17) and a block – the first in a long, long while – eventually cashed a 2-point lead for Italy (20:18). Turkey lost focus right by the end of the set and their errors paved the way with gold for Italy, as the guys coached by Bonitta could celebrate the provisional 2:1 after a splendid crosscourt finalized by Luigi Randazzo (25-22).
Bonitta was forced to ask an early time-out as Italy quickly trailed 2:6 in set 4 and the course of the game turned completely around on a serving turn of Borgogno who contributed a 7:0 run that totally destroyed Turkey’s defense line. Turkey was not yet ready to surrender but Italy got more and more consistency also in blocking (16:13); anchored by their setter Murat Yenipazar, the Turks showed great fighting spirit to keep the fate of the set open up to the very end but it was finally time for Italy to party as the “Azzurri” could ultimately seal the 25-20 that meant their qualification for the final act of this Championship.
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