STREAKING Italy made short work of Slovenia, 25-13, 25-22, 25-17, to catch the leaders in Week 3 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) men’s tournament Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Riding big wins over Brazil and Canada, the Italians sustained their drive and rolled past the Slovenians with little to no resistance to stay unblemished in the VNL deciding preliminary leg here.

Italy, with Yuri Romano again leading the onslaught, bumped off the first-game winner Poland for third place in the tight standings just behind Japan and the United States.

The world No. 3 team improved to an 8-3 won-lost record with 23 set points to overtake Poland, which scored a 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21 win over powerhouse Brazil for an 8-2 card but with only 19 points.

Romano, the 6-foot-6 opposite spiker, drained 16 points on 11 attacks, three service aces, and two blocks as Italy finished off the world No. 8 Slovenia in only one hour and 20 minutes.

“It’s a very good game and a very good performance for us. We won three matches so far and we want to win another one,” said Romano as Italy braces for a gigantic collision with unbeaten Japan on Saturday. “It will be the most difficult match for us, especially against Japan, who have won all their matches so far.”

Alessandro Michieletto and Daniele Lavia produced 13 points apiece to provide coverage for Romano as team captain Simone Giannelli had 18 sets for Italy, which slammed the door down on the usually potent Slovenian offense.

Italy silenced Slovenia with a 14-6 blocking advantage while converting six aces, three of which came from Romano alone, to score two blowout sets save for a closer second frame, 25-22.

Klemen Cebulj carded 16 points while Tine Urnaut put up 13 for Slovenia and even stood its ground against world No. 1 Poland before claiming the scalp of China in the previous days.

The huge loss pulled Slovenia to 7-4 for a tie at sixth to seventh place with first-game loser Brazil entering the homestretch of the VNL Philippine leg that will determine the Top 8 teams advancing to the finals on July 19 to 24 in Poland. (ai/mtvn)