Tokyo, Japan, May 22, 2016 - Italian teenager Paola Egonu further enhanced her reputation as one of the most exciting young players in women’s volleyball after helping her team to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-19) win over Kazakhstan at the Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Japan.
17-year-old Egonu finished the match with 21 points, while Kazakhstan will go home without a win but plenty of hope for the future.
Two teams at opposite ends of the qualification table not surprisingly took different approaches to the match.
For Kazakhstan it was all about winning it’s first match, while Italy adopted the same approach as other teams already qualified, and gave chances to players who had not seen a lot of court time in Japan.
As a result a rusty Italian combination took half a set to get going, while Kazakhstan were tighter early. The Asian team held control for the first half, but when Paola Egonu began to find her range, it spelled trouble for Kazakhstan.
Egonu blasted her way to eight points for the set, while for Kazakhstan, Irina Shenberger was enjoying some rare quality court time, finishing the set with seven points.
Italy took the opener 25-22.
At six-all in the second set Kazakhstan was looking competitive, but six straight points to the Italians quickly killed off the challenge. The score blew out, until some late Kazakhstan points made it more respectable at 25-16.
The third set was the last chance for the young Kazakhstan team to make an impact, but after a long week it was a bridge too far. The Italians, cock-a-hoop after qualifying for their fifth straight Olympics, were in no mood for sentiment, running out 25-19 and 3-0 winners.