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VNL: Streaking Italy trounces Canada in 5-setter

Alessandro Michieletto fired 18 points for Italy. PNVF
By John Rhey Piamonte

PASAY—Riding on a monumental win against Brazil last Tuesday, Italy stayed hot, escaping Canada in a 25-14, 23-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-9 thriller in Day 3 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Men's tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena, Thursday.

After a 3-1 stunner against the world no. 2 rival in the leg opener and this crucial victory, the Azzurri now scored back-to-back impressive victories in Manila that further solidify its quarterfinals grip. 

Italy caught up with Brazil in the team standings, with both teams now having a 7-3 win-loss card entering the pivotal final phase of the tournament.

The Ferdinando De Giorgi-headed squad stayed composed and played splendid volleyball from start to finish, with five players finishing in double figures. 

Outside hitter Alessandro Michieletto paved the way for Italy as he chipped in a team-high 18 points, 14 kills, three blocks, and one ace. 

"It was a very difficult match. We play points for points. We think always to the next ball," Michieletto uttered in the postgame. "We have two important games ahead of us. We hope to once again do this tomorrow."

Gianluca Galassi and Yuri Romaño followed suit with both skippers contributing 17 markers each.

Current world no. 4 Italy perfectly imposed its service-block game in the first as the team set the tone early with hard-hitting services and was capped by solid rejections. 

Middle blocker Galassi ended the first salvo, shutting down Canada's consecutive spikes, 25-14. 

Both teams traded blows in the second and third sets. Then the duo of Ryan Sclater and captain Nicholas Hoag happened in the fourth, saving Canada from an early exit, stealing the set away from the hands of the Italians. 

Sclater ended with game-high 22 points, 16 coming attacks while Hoag had a 14-point showing for Canada.

Italy capitalized on a 4-0 start in the decider, including the splendid cross-court hit from Daniele Lavia that pushed the cushion to 9-4 while it's Romaño's off-the-block tip that sent Canada packing.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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