FM WU18 TURvsITA (38)

Italy are the only undefeated team in the Pool B of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship at the conclusion of the third day of the tournament that’s taking place in Durango, Mexico. On Wednesday, the two-time winners defeated Turkey in straight sets to secure their second victory in the event.

The other match of the pool at the Auditorio del Pueblo saw the Dominican Republic come from behind to win for the first time, downing Peru 3-1. Thursday’s schedule will have Turkey playing their final pool match against Egypt and Italy facing the Dominicans.

Despite having played just twice, Italy top the pool with two wins alongside Turkey, which played three games already. The Dominican Republic rank third with one win in two matches, followed by Peru, with one positive result in three attempts. Egypt have played twice and are yet to win. The four best-ranked teams of the pool will make it to the Round of 16 while the fifth plays in the playoffs 17-20.

The Italians followed up on a 3-1 victory over Egypt on Tuesday with a straight-set triumph against continental rivals Turkey. The Italian offensive power was too much for the Turkish to handle as the winners had a 37-26 advantage in kills. The Italians were also better in blocking (10-7) while the Turkish had a minor edge in aces (8-7).

Italian outside hitter Julia Ituma was the top scorer of the match with 19 points (14 kills, three blocks, two aces), followed on the Italian side by opposite Giulia Viscioni, who had 12. Turkey, which battled an injury to one of their key players, Aleyna Gocmen, during the second set, had in outside hitter Ege Bukmen their top scorer with 15 points (ten kills, two blocks, three aces).

“Turkey are a very good team but we played our best game and that made us very happy, especially because we really played as a team,” Italian captain Dominika Giuliani, who scored six points, commented. “We lost the first set of the tournament, which was kind of an ice-breaker for us, but now we’re on a good path and we just want to keep going. Turkey was the most important match for us in pool play and we’re really happy we managed to play so well. From now on, we need to keep the good rhythm and just try to improve every day.”

In the other match of the pool, the Dominican Republic overcame a slow start to defeat Peru 3-1 and claim their first victory in the tournament. Taking advantage of the Peruvian mistakes (39-33) was a key for the Dominican victory as the winners were slightly better at blocking (5-3), but significantly outscored in aces (12-6).

Rodriguez (13) celebrates one of her points in the match

Rodriguez (13) celebrates one of her points in the match

Despite the defeat, Peru had the two top scorers of the match in captain Alondra Alarcon, with 19 points (15 kills, two blocks, two aces), and fellow outside hitter Maria Cisneros, with 17 (14 kills, three aces). Opposite Ariana Rodriguez was the top performer on the Dominican side with 14 points (11 kills, one block, two aces).

“We knew this was going to be a very important match for us in terms of advancing to the next round and we fought really hard and played with a lot of heart and courage,” Rodriguez commented. “After losing the first set, we changed our attitude and our faces and started playing like a team. I expect this first victory to help us and will raise our confidence. We’ll now face two teams of very good level and will need to continue playing hard.”