Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 2016 - An incredible all-round performance by Cristina Chirichella has helped Italy to a comprehensive 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-17) win over Peru to maintain its unbeaten record at the Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan.
In an outstanding team performance, Chirichella was the stand-out. At the net, at the service line, her play completely smothered a Peruvian side which did not win a single block or service ace point for the match.
Having been praised 24 hours earlier by coach Marco Bonitta for her leadership, Italian captain Antonella Del Core set about underlining in the opening set against Peru just why she is so important to the team.
While her leadership talents are obvious, she is also a formidable player – one of the world’s best. In the opening set she picked up six points, two of them through blocks, as Italy completely negated Peruvian playmaker Angela Leyva.
Leyva was restricted to five points in the opener, as Italy clocked up six blocks to Peru’s nil in a 25-19 scoreline.
Peru did lead for much of the early parts of the set, but went from a 14-11 lead to trailing 14-18, a run of seven straight points to the Italians that seemed to blunt the resolve of the South Americans.
Leyva was much more effective in the second set, adding another eight points, but across the board Peru continued to struggle.
The telling statistic showed that after two sets Peru had not registered a single block or ace, while Italy had eight blocks and three service aces.
Peruvian captain Mirtha Uribe was her usual reliable self, but her team had no answer to Peru’s powerful spikers, with 17-year-old Paola Egonu (12 points) and 20-year-old Miriam Sylla(13 points) tormenting the South Americans in a 25-16 set scoreline.
The Italians put on a volleyball clinic in the final set, with Chirichella outstanding. The 21-year-old blocked, spiked and served her way to 16 points in a dominant individual performance, and she had plenty of support.
The partnership of the 17-year-olds, setter Alessia Orro and opposite Paola Egonu, will send fear through opposition teams for many years to come, judging by their partnership so far this week.
Italy was always in control of the final set, often stringing together multiple points on the way to a 25-17 result and a 25-19, 25-16, 25-17 finish.
Peru’s hopes of making Rio are still alive, but coach Mauro Marasciulo will need to work hard on the rest day to reignite his team’s confidence.
Italy could know before the weekend if it will be going to the 2016 Olympics.
World Olympic Qualification Tournament websites:Women's WOQT in JapanMen's WOQT in JapanWomen's WOQT in Puerto RicoMen's WOQT in Mexico