Italy remains unbeaten in VNL Pasay leg, clobbers Slovenia in straight sets

Simone Giannelli celebrates after scoring for Italy. Cesca Rampas
By John Rhey Piamonte

PASAY—The fiery world no. 4 Italy continued to impose its dominance in Manila, demolishing Slovenia, in a wide 25-13, 25-22, 25-17 straight-set victory in Day 4 of the 2023 Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Week 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena, Friday. 

Playing like a well-oiled machine, Italy has now won three in a row following gutsy victories against Brazil and Canada to climb to 8-3 in the final phase of the tournament. 

The Azzuri was on-point in the defensive end all throughout the match, mounting 14 block points that shut down Slovenia, who now fell to a 7-4 slate.

Opposite Yuri Romaño yet again sizzled in front of the jampacked MOA Arena crowd as he fired 16 points, built on 11 kills, three aces, and two blocks. 

"It has been a really good performance so far. We won three matches and we hope to win one more tomorrow," Romaño said in the post-game conference.

Italy put on a blocking party in the first set highlighted by Alessandro Michieletto's superb rejection to put the salvo at 16-9.

The 21-year-old phenom Michieletto finished with 13 points while fellow outside hitter Daniele Lavia also had a 13-point game for Italy. 

Slovenia took control of the early goings of the second set as team captain Tine Urnaut and Klemen Čebulj led the charge, 18-20. 

But the streaking Italian squad went on to score a couple of crucial points off Slovenia's errors that turned the tables. Then middle blocker Lavia pulled off back-to-back kill blocks for a 24-21 set turnaround.

Čebulj and Urnaut ended with 13 and 10 points, respectively for Slovenia.

Follow him on Twitter: @rhey_piamonte