On the opening day in Pool E of the FIVB Volleyball U21 Men's World Championship, Czechia delivered a great comeback after losing the first two sets in their match against Belgium. In the second match of the day, Italy and Argentina put up a real fight, but the Italians found the strength to close the game in their favour after three successful sets.
Czechia come back from two sets down against Belgium
Italy prevail over Argentina on Pool E opening day
Published 08:09, 27 Sep 2021
Leaving no doubts over who was better in the first set, Belgium opened in their favour with a comfortable point difference and recording as many as five kill blocks. Czechia got back on their feet (10-11) in the next set, with Petr Spulak showing 67% success in attacking. However, the young Red Dragons emerged victorious in the set, with Simon Plaskie scoring four points and 57% efficiency.
As after a close call in the third set, the players of Jan Svoboda turned things around and tied the set score. Belgium had their chances at 21-21, but Czechia showed mental strength, while Belgium let some unforced errors affect the game. Inspired, the Czechs grabbed the next two sets, improving in blocking (both sides finished wtih 12 blocks each). Statistically, the Czechs were able to gain more on their opponents’ errors (33 to 21), although Belgium were better in spiking (61 to 54).
Belgium's opposite hitter Seppe Rotty gave his all in the match, finishing as top scorer with as many as 21 points to his name. For the winners, Petr Spulak recorded 18.
“In the first two sets, they were pushing us a lot on the serve, and we were struggling to find our rhythm. In the third set, we delivered better level in defence, hence better attack. Our confidence grew up and that was the key! For the next matches, we will always go for the win," Petr Spulak, middle blocker of Czechia, told Volleyball World.
Both sides started very concentrated. Rodrigo Soria shined on the block (two), giving Argentina a chance to dream, as they started leading by a point. In tight last moments, Italy found the strength to emerge victorious, with Tommaso Stefani acing for the winning point. The South Americans did not get disappointed. Instead, they found the proper motivation to take the lead in the second set. Italy, on the other hand, suffered from their own errors. With the set unfolding, the co-hosts of the competition started pushing on the serve, and it paid off, getting them back in the game. Stefani (with eight points) contributed the most to his team’s set win. A similar scenario marked the last set - the South Americans taking the lead, and Italy getting back on track, eventually claiming the win with better performance in blocking (10 in total) in the deciding points.
“We knew that we had to be aggressive and Argentina are a strong team. We are happy that we could win in three sets. Tomorrow, we play again against Czechia. We already won against them once, but it is a new game, and we will give our best,” Federico Crosato, middle blocker of Italy, told Volleyball World.