Montreux, Switzerland, September 06, 2018 - Davide Mazzanti’s Italy did the most that could be asked of them in their final Pool A match at the 2018 Montreux Masters, easing aside hosts Switzerland in straight sets (25-15, 25-18, 25-22), but must wait to learn whether they will progress to the semi-finals or be condemned to the classification ties, with China’s match-up with Turkey (18:45 CET) still to come at the time of writing.
Wing Spiker Miryam Fatime Sylla (11 points including eight spikes & three blocks) & Middle Blocker Anna Danesi (nine points including seven spikes and two blocks) were the stars of the show for the Azzurrine as they picked apart their hosts in two comfortable opening sets, before seeing out a competitive final set to get the 3-0 maximum sets win they desperately wanted in their bid to progress to the last four, despite the dangerous Laura Kunzler proving a threat for the hosts throughout with 11 points of her own. Switzerland, having lost both of their games so far, cannot reach the semi-finals, and will contest the classification matches.
The opening set was wrought with some excellent play from both sides, Italian Wing Spiker Serena Ortolani with a brace of excellent spikes, whilst Miryam Fatime Sylla was excellent at the net, going up for the double block with Marina Lubian to deny Laura Kunzler before coming up with a great individual block of her own to help the Azzurrine into a lead, Switzerland’s main threat coming from the imposing Kunzler who came up with a series of spikes in reply. A powerful smash followed by a cute spike from Italy’s Sylvia Chinelo Nwakalor put Italy at 22-15, before Lubian’s serve clipped the net and dropped into the Swiss half of the court for an ace and Anna Danesi pulled off a great block to propel the women in blue to set point. At the second set-point play the Swiss serve was too long, landing out of bounds and handing Davide Mazzari’s side a 25-15 first set win.
Anna Danesi was becoming more involved in the game in the second set, her block and spike proving important in keeping the Italians in touch with their hosts in the early exchanges as a brace of impressive spikes from Livia Zaugg and Thays Deprati and a Gabi Schottroff block had Switzerland briefly ahead at 10-12. A deft touch and a spike from Sylla sandwiching a Malinov block saw Italy regain control, however, before an ace from Lucia Bosetti and a wonderful subtle touch over the net from Malinov propelled the Azzurrine into a 17-12 advantage. A block from Nwakalor was amongst the highlights that followed as a serve fault from Switzerland’s Madlaina Matter put Italy at set point, 24-18. The heavily involved Danesi was at the heart of the action once again in the final play of the set, rising above the net with a spike that beat three trailing Swiss hands to take the set 25-18 and have the visitors in the driving seat with a 2-0 overall lead.
Danesi was at it again in the third set with a great spike to kill off an entertaining rally, before the hosts briefly threatened a comeback with a Pierret ace, two Schottroff blocks and a brace of spikes from Kunzler and Maja Storck helping the Swiss into a 9-15 lead. Middle Blocker Danesi would again come up with the goods for her team, however, scoring two points in response before a cute touch from Sylla over the advancing Kunzler and a Swiss reception error brought the set all square at 15-15. The set remained competitive, a nerve-jangling exchange of points seeing Italy into a slender 23-22 lead late on. With momentum shifting, Italy needing something to avoid giving the Swiss a foothold, and star performer Danesi proved the matchwinner, involved in the last two Italian points. Firstly she rose in the double block with Setter Carlotta Cambi to take the game to match point, and then converted at the first time of asking, going up in the double block with Ortolani this time to slam the door in the face of the Swiss and touch down for a 25-22 third set win and a vital 3-0 triumph.
With Italy having played all their group matches, they now wait for their fate to be confirmed at the time of writing as China face Turkey in the day’s other Pool A match at 18:45 CET, whilst Switzerland- now unable to qualify for the semi-finals- will look to end their group stage on a high against Turkey on Friday (07.09.18. 16:30 CET) prior to contesting the classification ties.