Eboli, Italy, June 12, 2018 – A superb all-round effort from Italy’s setter Ofelia Malinov fuelled the team on the way to an impressive 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-15) victory over Thailand that keeps them in contention for a spot in the Final Six of the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
The 22-year-old playmaker not only made sure her spiking teammates had plenty of opportunities to score from pretty much any position on the court, but also chipped in with some great scoring herself, tallying up five points coming from all possible elements.
The beautifully conducted Italian defence was complemented by the phenomenal effort in blocking, which brought in as many as 13 points to the accounts, against zero for Thailand. The leader on stuff blocks Elena Pietrini (with four) also became the best scorer of the match with 14 points, followed by teammate Lucia Bosetti with 13.
Chatchu-On Moksri was Thailand’s most prolific player with a total of eight points.
Cheered on by the home crowd in Eboli, the Italians dominated the match and, except for some brief moments in the second set, when the Asian side took over the lead, the scoreboard was well in control of the Europeans, who cruised to a much needed straight-set victory.
The Italians stormed into the match with some fantastic blocking, which quickly established their superiority on the court. With Ofelia Malinov’s hands stopping the Thai attempts in offence themselves or joining in on building a double or a triple block, the setter made a solid contribution at the net, which resulted in Thailand scoring only four spikes in the entire first set.
In a key moment of the second set, when the opponents thought a comeback was possible, Malinov won a joust over the net to put her team at 6-5 in the lead. The Asians quickly restored their advantage, but it was Malinov again who dashed their hopes with an ace for 8-7. With the next point, which came after a spectacular dig by the setter, the home side started to break away again.
While Malinov’s scoring efforts “slowed down” for the remainder of the match, she continued to do what she did best throughout the match – set the ball in places, where the Italian spikers found it easy to score one point after another. The Thai blockers never managed to find a way to stop the Italian attacks and the big fat zero on their stuff blocks count is the perfect testimonial for Malinov’s superb performance in the setting department.