On the opening day of action in Cagliari (Sardinia), Czechia and Italy celebrated with victories, beating the teams of Egypt and Thailand by 3-1 and 3-0, respectively.
Czechia, Italy off to good start in Pool A
Czech Republic better than Egypt, Italy disappoint Thailand
Published 08:59, 23 Sep 2021
While the co-hosts of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship, Italy, did not face any serious problems against the team from Asia, the Czech Republic struggled a bit in their game, but could eventually seize the win.
Entering as favourites in their first match at the U21 World Champs, the Czech Republic started better in the beginning of the match. However, Egypt showed better performance in reception (75% positive), and got closer in the score (13-12) in the first set. The Czechs found their way and, led by Jiri Mikulenka, took the first two sets. However, Egypt weren’t ready to give up, and pushing on the serve, were able to take the third set. In close-call action, the players of coach Jan Svoboda emerged victorious, showing more confidence on the block and on the serve.
Abdelrahman Elhossiny of Egypt was the best scorer of the match, with 19 points to his name, while Mikulenka and Matous Drahonovsky contributed 18 each to their team’s win. Overall, Czechia outclassed their opponents on all counts, beside the attack where Egypt led the way with 51 successful actions in this component compared to 49 by the Czechs.
“It happens quite often that when you start well, you lose focus. We started really well, especially in the second set. Afterwards, they performed better, we also had three unforced errors in the end of the third set. The lesson that we can learn from today's match is that we always have to keep focused. The win comes after three sets won, and we have to be reminding ourselves of that,” Jiri Mikulenka of the Czech Republic told Volleyball World.
Italy stormed into the match, and with 14 winning spikes (against only three recorded by Thailand), opened in their favour. Paolo Porro shined in these moments, with five points and three aces.
Pushing hard on the serve in the second set (five aces to one), Italy continued enjoying their dominance on the court. Tommaso Rinaldi delivered 75% success in attack, while the other Tommaso (Stefani) made it difficult for the reception of Thailand towards the end of the set, executing some sharp serves. With no problems, the Italians closed in three sets. Tommaso Stefani finished as a top scorer, recording as many as 15 points.
“We are feeling good and positive, of course, looking at the clear 3-0 win that we recorded. After four months of hard work and preparation, we are finally here, at the Worlds. We are proud to be here, and we are giving our best. Tomorrow, we are meeting the team of Egypt. We still don’t know the opponent very well, but what matters is that we know our strengths," Nicola Cianciotta, middle blocker of Italy, told Volleyball World.