Egonu's electric performance lifts Italy past China in five-set thriller

 

Yokohama, Japan, October 18, 2018 - Paola Egonu scored a match-high 45 points as Italy downed China 3-2 (25-18, 21-25, 25-16, 29-31, 17-15) in the semifinals of the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship on Friday night.

Miryam Sylla had 23 points and Anna Danesi 12 in the victory for Italy.

Zhu Ting paced China with 26 points in the loss.

It was a fantastic match played by both teams, with power being the theme as both sides blasted away on offense and blocked well on defense.

Italy took the initiative in the first set, coming out strong on attack. They passed and blocked well and had China on the defensive throughout.

China came out aggressively in the second set, pressuring Italy on serve and attack. Italy closed within a point late in the set, but China surged back to claim it.

The points came fast and furious in the third set, with most points being scored on quick strikes and few rallies taking place. China led early before Italy went on a run midway through the set to take control as China struggled in reception.

The fourth set was tight all the way as neither side could put the other away. Back and forth it went in an absolutely electric show of great volleyball. Italy had match points but could not close it out. China saw set points come and go before superstar Zhu ended it with a spike.

The final set was close with neither side being able to open a lead until near the end when Egonu finally took over and decided the outcome.

A back attack by Egonu saw Italy leading 16-12 at the second TTO in the opening set. A block by Egonu made it 20-12 for the Italians. A block by Anna Danesi put Italy up 22-14 and China called a timeout. A tap by Sylla gave Italy set point at 24-17. They took the set 25-18 on a spike by Chirichella.

Egonu misplayed a spike attempt and China led 8-7 at the first TTO. A big block by Gong Xiangyu made it 12-10 for China. Li Yingying flew in from the wing for a spike and China led 16-15 at the second TTO. Yan Ni scored off an option play to make it 20-17 for China. A blast by Sylla into the corner pulled Italy within a point at 20-19. Zhu's spike made it 23-21 for China. They took the set 25-21 after Hu Mingyuan fired two straight service aces.

China quickly grabbed a 4-1 lead in the third set on a spike by Zhu and Italy called a timeout. China was on top 8-6 at the first TTO on a spike by Yuan. Italy scored six straight points to lead 12-8. They led 16-12 at the second TTO. Danesi scored on a quick spike from the middle and Italy's lead was 20-14. Sylla's spike was blocked out and Italy was up 23-16. They took the set 25-16 on an ace by Egonu.

China took an 8-6 lead at the first TTO, scoring rapidly on offense. A block by Lucia Bosetti tied the score 13-13. China then ran off three straight points and was in front 16-13 at the second TTO. Zhu flew in on a back attack and China was up 18-15 as they tried to force a fifth set. Egonu put Italy back in the lead 20-19 with an attack from the wing. An ace by Danesi put Italy within three points of the final at 22-19. The final few points were an intense battle as Italy looked to close it out. Gong rose high for a spike to make it 23-23 and Italy called a timeout. Egonu fired a spike long and China went ahead 24-23 after a great serve by Zhu. Egonu equalized 24-24 with a huge spike. Zhang fired a spike long and it was match point at 25-24 for Italy. China tied it again at 25-25. Zhu's spike made it 29-28 and Italy came back to level at 29-29 on a spike by Sylla. China finally took the set 31-29 on spike that was upheld on a challenge.
 
The Chinese led 5-4 in the final set after Italy had trouble with a reception. Italy moved ahead 6-5 on a block by Danesi. Italy had an 8-7 lead at the changeover. The fight was intense with neither side being able to get more than one point ahead. Zhu's block made it 11-10 for China. Egonu made it 12-11 for Italy with a spike. Chichirella made a huge block on Zhu and Italy was up 13-12. Egonu fired an ace for match point at 14-12, but China leveled again at 14-14. Egonu made it 15-14 with a spike but missed with another and it was 15-15. Egonu delivered another spike and Italy was up 16-15 and Egonu fired one last spike to give Italy the match 17-15.