Italy shows emotion after scoring a point against Brazil during yesterday’s VNL Week 3 opener. VOLLEYBALL WORLD PHOTO

Games Wednesday
(Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City)
3 p.m. – Canada vs Netherlands
7 p.m. – Poland vs Slovenia

ITALY pulled off a reverse sweep against rival Brazil, 23-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-21, to shore up its playoff hopes in the crucial Week 3 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) men’s tournament Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The world No. 4 Italians unleashed a searing 6-2 closeout in the fourth set highlighted by Daniele Lavia’s ace to break free from a 19-all deadlock and cap a thrilling reversal in front of a sizeable enthusiastic Filipino fans.

Italy improved to a 6-3 won-lost record to tie Brazil at fourth place in the final preliminary leg of the 16-team VNL organized by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and Volleyball World.

Spiker Yuri Romano led from front with 20 points on 16 hits and four aces as the Italians avenged their tough 19-25, 26-28,18-25, 20-25 loss to world No. 1 Poland last week in the Netherlands to boost their chances for a top 8 finish.

Only the top eight teams will qualify in the final round of the VNL — backed by Ganten, Gerflor, Mikasa, Mizuno, Senoh and as global sponsors — from July 19 to 24 in Poland.

Alessandro Michieletto chipped in 17 points, Gianluca Galassi towered with 12 points on four blocks while Lavia added 10 points in a scattered attack for Italy, which is out for redemption this time around after its top-seed finish last year went to waste in a semifinal exit.

“We’re very happy for this win. We need this in the standings. After losing the first set, we played well and won the next three. We’re very happy. It’s very important for our qualification,” said Romano, whose thunderous kill gave Italy a 20-19 lead in the clincher.

Ranged against a fierce rival that already beat them thrice in Olympic gold medal encounters, the Italians dropped a close opening salvo, 23-25, but retaliated with a bang punctuated by a 25-15 third-set dominance to take a 2-1 upperhand.

Brazil, the 2021 champion, would not go down easily the same way in the fourth set in a bid to force a decider until Romano and Galassi joined hands with a string of hammering attacks.

Lavia then iced the deal with a sweet service ace.

Henrique Dantas Nobrega Honorato paced with 15 points while Ricardo Lucarelli Souza and Flavio Resende Gualberto had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Brazilians, who could not follow up their massive 25-20, 26-24, 19-25, 25-23 upset of reigning champion France last week.

Italy takes on Canada next while Brazil tangles with the Netherlands on Thursday of the VNL that also has PLDT, Rebisco, Akari and the PSC as major sponsors with support from Fitbar, Instax Fujifilm, Fitness First, Pasay City, Taguig City, Diamond Hotel, Maynilad, Peugeot, SM MOA Arena, The Look and The Moment Group with Cignal, Inquirer Group, RMN, DOOH, One Sports, One Sports+ and Mega Mobile as media partners. (ai/mnm)