Egonu sparks Italy past Japan in five-set thriller

 

Nagoya, Japan, October 15, 2018 - Paola Egonu scored a match-high 36 points as Italy downed Japan 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 19-25, 15-13) in the third round at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship on Monday night.

Miryan Sylla added 19 points and Anna Danesi 13 in the win for Italy.

Erika Araki was the top scorer for Japan with 17 points in the loss.

Italy came into the match with a 9-0 record, while Japan was 7-2.

Japan lost to Serbia 3-0 on Sunday in their first match of the third round.

Japan gave Italy a battle and became the first team in the tournament to take two sets off them.

Italy was strong on attack, but struggled in defense at times. 

Japan used their speed to offset the power of the Italians, but it wasn't enough on this night.

Italy took an 8-4 lead at the first TTO in the opening set. Mai Okumura sent a serve long and Italy was up 11-7. The Italians attacked well from the wings and center in the early going, with Cristina Chirichella powering the offense. Koga sent a serve long and Italy led 16-13 at the second TTO. A block by Miryam Sylla made it 19-14 for Italy. Egonu pushed a spike over the Japan defense to give Italy a 23-17 margin. Lucia's Bosetti's spike gave Italy the set 25-20.

There were a couple of lengthy rallies early in the second set and Japan won them both on the way to taking a 7-3 lead. Japan was receiving and passing well. A spike by Koga took the Japan lead to 13-8. Japan was passing well and excelling on attack. Italy trailed 14-9 and called a timeout. Risa Shinnabe sent a spike down the line and Japan was up 16-11 at the second TTO. Egonu began scoring from the wings as Italy ran off four straight points to make it 16-15. A Koga spike saw Japan lead 20-18. A pair of Italian mistakes made it 23-20 for Japan. Okumura scored off an option play and it was set point for Japan at 24-21. Japan claimed the set 25-22 on a net violation.

A block by Egonu gave Italy a 5-4 edge in the third set. She connected for another spike from the wing and Italy led 8-6 at the first TTO. A reception error by libero Mako Kobata opened Italy's lead to 13-10. Egonu made it 16-12 with a huge spike. Egonu then beat the high block with another spike and Italy led 22-18. Koga connected on an attack from the wing to make it 24-21, but Sylla responded with a spike and Italy took the set 25-21.

A spike by Araki off an option play saw Japan take a 6-4 lead in the fourth set. Shinnabe had a spike blocked out and Japan was up 12-9. Egonu sent two straight spikes wide and Japan led 16-10 at the second TTO. Japan's serve was also troubling Italy during the set. Japan continued to excel on attack and led 22-16. Japan got set point at 24-18 on a net violation. A Shinnabe spike gave Japan the set 25-19.

An ace by Shinnabe gave Japan a 4-3 lead in the final set. An ace from Araki made it 7-5 for Japan. It was 8-6 for Japan at the changeover. Italy scored three straight points to knot it at 9-9 and went ahead 10-9 on a block by Anna Danesi. It was 11-11 after an Araki spike. Japan's spike was blocked an Italy led 13-11 before closing it out 15-13.