Plak's hunting serve brings Netherlands a victory over Italy


Netherlands record their third victory over Italy this year

Bari, Italy, June 18, 2016 - Netherlands recovered from Friday's loss to Russia, defeating Italy 3-1 (19-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-22). Celeste Plak's damaging serve and attack were the key to Dutch victory over the hosting team.

This is the third victory of the Dutch team over Italians in 2016. Previously Netherlands defeated Italy at the European and World Olympic Qualification Tournaments. As for World Grand Prix rivalry, this was the ninth encounter with the Dutch also holding a top score of wins, now increased to six. Celeste Plak, subbed in throughout the match gave a great performance with X points, but the best scorer of the match was her opponent Valentina Diouf who scored 23 points for Italy. 

Tight beginning of the match with the two-point lead bouncing from one side to another, until Italy runs 14-9 ahead. The second TTO comes with 16-12 for the hosting team. Despite Netherlands' attempts to narrow the gap, Italy claimed set with confident 25-19.

The Dutch responded immediately taking 8-4 at the first TTO, but Orro fires from the service line coming close to 10-9. Her serves motivated Italy, who scored five points in a row, forcing Netherlands to call a time out and bring some changes to the roster. Italy kept the lead at second TTO for 16-13. Substitutions worked for the Dutch who came closer, but Italy jumps away for 21-18 again. Plak stepped in with an ace to come close to 21-20 and Italy called a time out. Belien follows with an ace to tie and captain Balkestein gives her team first set point. Netherlands wrapped the set at 25-23. 

Both teams didn't make it easy for each other in the third set, with Netherlands' slight lead 8-7. The Dutch score three points in a row, but a time out and great performance of Del Core bring Italy back to game and allows to go 15-13 ahead. Netherlands go for another three-point streak and Plak increases the gap to four with another ace. The team closes the set 25-18. 

Plak remained the leader of her team, with the early lead 8-5 increased to 10-5 in no time. Del Core and Chirichella fight back with a block and ace to come close, but Sloetjes stops the game at second TTO with 16-14 for her team. Italy didn't give up, with some substitutions moving things forward for the hosting team. Coach Guidetti took a time out to calm things down and Netherlands sealed the deal 25-22. 


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