GB men's volleyball team beaten by Italy

03 August 2012 / 00:20

Italy all but rubber-stamped Great Britain's exit from the men's Olympic volleyball tournament, condemning them to a third successive straight-sets defeat with a score of 19-25, 16-25, 20-25.

The number four-ranked side were too cute, strong and tall for their hosts who, with two round-robin games left to go, are still to take a set in Games competition.

The opposition is not going to get easier either, with hot favourites Poland and a more-than-handy Argentina to come. Great Britain showed glimpses of what they can do in the opening set - staying with Italy for a while until service errors undid them - but faded badly in the second and third.

With his admission that qualification had gone, it was surprising that Brokking opted to start with experience over youth, with the retiring Jason Haldane starting, as well as Andy Pink.

But the Dutch tactician's thinking was proved to be better than the observer's as his side led 8-7 at the first time-out, with Peter Bakare spiking at the net and Mark McGivern causing Italy problems on his serve.

But four Italian points on the reel put them ahead after the break, with Dragan Travica's serve and some wayward hitting from Nathan French seeing them out to 9-14 and, with Britain careless in reception, they were soon down at 14-21. Italy wrapped up the set 19-25, with the points difference the same as the amount of service errors Britain had made.

The second set started in identical fashion to the first, though, with Brokking's men 8-7 ahead at the first break. They had been 4-1 at one stage thanks to Bakare's brilliant defence - he twice shut down the 6ft 8in Luigi Mastrangelo - but an Italian revival left them two adrift at 14-16 by the next.

As has been the case for Britain during this tournament they lost their way when the intensity was turned up, with McGivern pushing instead of spiking and then French hitting long again and Italy took full advantage in the shape of the unerringly accurate Ivan Zaytsev.

With daylight between them they pulled out to a 25-16 victory and, keen to get on with the job, they avoided a repeat of the first two sets and got an early advantage in the third, despite the best efforts of Bakare.

It was all too easy for Italy at this point, with Pink and both Bakares, Dami and Peter, finding their defence impenetrable. Despite being defensively excellent, libero Dan Hunter could not get any momentum when it came to finding setter Ben Pipes and Italy took the third set and with it the match, 20-25.