Aug. 14 - USA vs. Italy, 2 p.m. EST
By Jim Stone
The fourth scouting report from Jim Stone takes a close look at Italy, which entered the Olympics as the world’s 8th-ranked team.
1 Serena Ortolani – left-side hitter/opposite (height: 6-2; age: 29)
15 Antonella Del Core – left-side hitter (5-11; 35)
7 Martina Guiggi – middle blocker (6-2; 32)
11 Cristina Chirichella – middle blocker (6-5; 22)
8 Alessia Gennari – left-side hitter (6-0; 24)
6 Monica De Gennaro – libero (5-9; 29)
14 Eleonora Lo Bianco – setter (5-8; 36)
4 Alessia Orro – setter (6-0; 18)
18 Paola Egonu – opposite (6-2; 18)
- Italy is tall and talented and can physically match up with any team in the tournament.
- Italy head coach Marco Bonitta has some interesting and important choices to make with his line-up. One of his setting options is 18-year-old phenom Alessia Orro (#4), who led Italy’s youth national team a year ago to a gold medal at the Youth World Championship. Her youth national teammate, 18-year-old Paola Egonu (#18), is a highly talented offensive player who started several matches at the Olympic qualifying tournament. No question, both are very, very good, but this is the Olympics! Will the atmosphere be too much for players who are so young? On the other hand, Bonitta has a veteran setter in 36-year-old Eleonora Lo Bianco (#14) who has played in 23 Olympic matches. He also has a 35-year-old left-side attacker in Antonella Del Core. Will Bonitta go for the experience and stable veteran players or the young athletes who have world class talents?
- If Bonitta decides on Orro to set, she brings great athleticism, a bigger block and solid defense to the court. Orro will probably set a more conservative match with most sets going to the outside attackers. If Lo Bianco is the choice, she’ll be more aggressive getting the middles involved. Lo Bianco does have significant blocking and defensive liabilities.
- Italy is a very good serving team. Most of the players use a jump float with good velocity.
- Italy runs a 5-1.
- They have a typical European offense with higher, slower tempo sets to the left side. The middle attack, however, is very quick and will attack various parts of the net behind the setter. Lo Bianco and middle hitter Guiggi (#7) have a lot of experience playing together and are very good attacking behind the setter.
- Most points will come from the left-side attack.
- The backrow attack will come from Ortolani (#1) or Egonu (#18) hitting Ds out of right back.
- Serve receive, at times, can be inconsistent.
- Italy runs a traditional perimeter defense. They tend to block line and release right back up when defending the left-side attack.
- Although there are some good individual defenders, as a team, Italy is considered an average defensive team. They are a tall group, so they focus on blocking and good serving to score defensive points.
Keys for Italy
- Serve effectively to take pressure off their defense.
- Pass consistently to get middles involved in the offense. The outside attackers cannot win an important match by themselves.
- Italy needs a good start in the tournament. If they still have medal hopes by the time they play the USA, they’ll be a challenging opponent.
USA vs. Italy outlook
On a given night, Italy is capable of defeating any team in the pool. They’re similar to Serbia in that they are a very offensive team with multiple individuals capable of scoring points, both in system and out. Also like Serbia, they will go on runs of points that should allow them to compete well with the USA. However, USA has too many ways to score and is much more consistent both offensively and defensively. If both teams are in top form, the U.S. will win 3-0 or 3-1. If the U.S. isn’t at the top of their game, Italy has sufficient talent to win the match. This will be the fourth pool match for the USA. By this point, they should be gathering momentum for the medal rounds. The prediction here: U.S. wins 3-1.
1 Alisha Glass – setter (height: 6-0; age 28) – Leland, Michigan; Penn State
2 Kayla Banwarth – libero (5-10; 27) - Dubuque, Iowa; University of Nebraska
3 Courtney Thompson – setter (5-8; 31) – Kent, Washington; University of Washington
5 Rachael Adams – middle blocker (6-2; 26) - Cincinnati, Ohio; University of Texas
6 Carli Lloyd – setter (5-11; 27) – Bonsall, California; University of California-Berkeley
10 Jordan Larson – outside hitter (6-2; 29); Hooper, Nebraska; University of Nebraska
12 Kelly Murphy – opposite (6-2; 26) Wilmington, Illinois; University of Florida
13 Christa Dietzen – middle blocker (6-2; 29) Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania; Penn State
15 Kim Hill – outside hitter (6-4; 26) Portland, Oregon; Pepperdine
16 Foluke Akinradewo – middle blocker (6-3; 29) Plantation, Florida; Stanford
23 Kelsey Robinson – outside hitter (6-2; 24) Bartlett, Illinois; University of Nebraska
25 Karsta Lowe – opposite (6-4; 23) Rancho Santa Fe, California; UCLA