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2023 VNL Season

VNL: Galassi tows Italy past Canada in 5

Italy fended off a gritty Canada side in a remarkable five-set match with scores of 25-14, 23-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-9, securing its place within the Top 8 of the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Nations League on Thursday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

With a win-loss record of 7-3, the 2022 European Champions took a step towards joining Japan, the USA, and host Poland in the Final Round.

Thanks to a strong start in the decisive fifth set, with outside hitter Alessandro Michieletto serving, the Italians slowly inched towards victory. They built a significant 12-6 cushion, which proved to be enough as the two teams traded points until the end.

However, it was the play of Italy’s middle blockers that made the difference, with Gianluca Galassi finishing with 17 points from 11 attacks, four blocks, and two aces.

“It was really hard because their players are really good. We know some of them really well. And for us, we sometimes play well and sometimes not too well as usual,” said last year’s World’s Best Middle Blocker, reflecting on his team’s performance.

“We hope we can perform better in the next games because I know we can do better.”

Italy utilized its middle attackers, Galassi and Roberto Rosso, early in the first set to exploit Canada’s defense and create opportunities for their wing spikers. The European team also effectively anticipated the opponent’s attacking strategy, resulting in a dominant set win with four blocks.

In the second set, Canada capitalized on Italy’s tentative offense and gained an early lead of 7-2. The Canadians had to fight hard to secure the win as the Italians tied the score at 22.

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The third set followed a similar pattern, but this time Italy regained its aggressiveness at the net. Back-to-back kills from Galassi and Simone Giannelli propelled Italy to a 20-17 lead, giving them the advantage once again.

Canada, however, had different plans and turned a 19-21 deficit into a 25-23 win in the fourth set, capitalizing on late errors from the European side.

Italy regrouped and ultimately claimed this crucial victory.

Michieletto led the scoring with 14 attacks, three blocks, and a service ace, while Rosso contributed 15 points from 11 attacks, two blocks, and two aces.

Italy will strive to continue its ascent and secure a spot in the final eight when they face Slovenia on Friday at 7:00 PM.

Ryan Sclater once again led the Canadian offense with 22 points from 16 spikes, five blocks, and an ace. Meanwhile, libero Justin Lui frustrated the Italians with 13 digs and seven receptions.

Canada, now standing at 2-8, will aim to end their VNL run on a high note, starting with a match against world No. 1 Poland on Saturday at 3:00 PM.

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