Middle blocker Gianluca Galassi scored three points in the Italian triumph

Italy responded well to their biggest challenge at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship 2022 so far, topping Cuba on Saturday, the opening day of the elimination rounds in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

The team with the best campaign in the Pool Phase, the reigning European champions dropped their first set in the event to Cuba, but remained undefeated with a 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 26-24, 25-18) Round of 16 victory at Arena Stozice that placed them in the quarterfinals of the biggest tournament of the season.

· Watch all FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

With the victory, the Italians have guaranteed they will at least match their last World Championship campaign, in 2018, when they co-hosted the event alongside Bulgaria and fell in the quarterfinals.

The three-time world champions relied on opposite Yuri Romanò, who was their top scorer with 14 points, all in kills. The team’s outside hitters combined for 20 points, with Daniele Lavia chipping in 11 (nine kills, two blocks) and Alessandro Michieletto tallying another nine (seven kills, one ace, one block).

“The Cubans played really well,” Michieletto commented. “It was a very good match and I think the key for us was serving better in the third and fourth sets. Winning that third set was critical as it gave us the confidence to play even better in the fourth set. The entire team played really well and I’m very happy with our performance in such a difficult match.”

Cuban opposite Jaime Herrera was the match’s top scorer with 23 points after he registered 19 kills, one block and three aces. Middle blocker Robertlandy Simon and outside hitter Marlon Yant, who both play in the Italian SuperLega, contributed with 11 points apiece.


Italians and Cubans duel in Ljubljana

Despite the loss, Cuba dominated Italy in kills (52 to 39) and aces (three to two), losing only the blocking duel, which was won by the Italians by 12 to five. The Caribbeans' 44 errors to Italy’s 28 were, however, the main difference between the two teams.

In the quarterfinals, the Italians will face the winners of the match between France and Japan, who will play each other on Monday, September 5, in Ljubljana, at 21.00 local time (19.00 GMT).

Earlier today, World Championship co-hosts Slovenia also advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating European rivals Germany 3-1.

The Round of 16 continues on Sunday with two more matches, both in Gliwice, Poland. The first, set to start at 17.30 local time (15.30 GMT), will reunite the United States and Türkiye, while the second, scheduled for 21.00 local time (19.00 GMT), will see two-time defending champions and hosts Poland take on reigning African champions Tunisia.