Tournament’s titleholder shows his strength. Serbians even without important player, Outside Hitter Brankica Mihajlovic, outclassed “Azzure” in three straight sets.
SERBIA – ITALY 3-0 (25-14 28-26 25-18)
Line-ups and scores:
Serbia: Ognjenovic (6), Nikolic (8), Rasic (14), Brakocevic (17), Molnar (9), Krsmanovic (7), Cebic (L) and Malagurski
Italy: Signorile (1), Sorokaite (10), Arrighetti (9), Diouf (14), Costagrande (9), Guiggi (6), De Gennaro (L) and L.Bosetti, C.Bosetti (1)
Serbia kick started into the second quarterfinal in Zurich’s Hallenstadion. 3.500 fans saw an outstanding debut of the titleholders, entering the first technical timeout at 8-0 (!). Opposite Jovana Brakocevic and middle-blocker Milena Rasic set the pace with eight respective six points in the opening set. The Terzic squad added four service winners and six block kills in the first set. Italy increased their performance at the end of the first set, but it was already too late. Brizitka Molnar finished the first set with a block out shot from the left side.
Italy bounced back strongly in the beginning of the second set. It seemed as head coach Marco Mencarelli had found the right words during the first and the second period. The Azzurre improved their block-defense game and quickly led 5-1 and 15-12. Indre Sorokaite (6 points in the second set) led her teammates with blistering winners from the left side. Martina Guiggi and Valentina Diouf added five points each to move Italy forward. Brakocevic saved a first Italian set ball at 23-24 with a burning missile through the Italian blockers. Italy had two other chances to conclude, but did not. Team senior Jelena Nikolic served a service winner to turn the tables at 27-26 before Serbian setter Maja Ognjenovic (!) smashed for a hard-earned 2:0 set lead.
The story of the match did not change in the third and last set. The Italians, disillusioned by the Serbian comeback at the end of the second set, could not react. Serbia speedily set the pace with their strong middles Natasa Krsmanovic and Milena Rasic. Carolina Costagrande helped her team with some scorching hammers, but the Serbian spikers responded with a cascade of winners from back and front row. Italian head coach Marco Mencarelli sent in Caterina and Lucia Bosetti, but it did not help much. After 77 minutes of tough battle, Brakocevic brought up match point for Serbia with a hammer from the right side. One rally later, Krsmanovic served a service winner to offer titleholder Serbia their well-deserved ticket to Berlin (25-18).
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All Quarterfinals has just ended. In semifinals Belgium will play against Germany and Serbia will face Russia. In my opinion the second game should be Final, because these teams made the best impression.