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Italy scores 2nd win in women's volleyball with return of Aguero
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15:38, August 11, 2008

Simona Gioli of Italy spikes during women's volleyball Preliminary Pool B match against Kazakhstan at Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 11, 2008. Italy beat Kazakhstan 3-0. (Xinhua/Wang Jianhua)

With the return of its point-scoring machine Taismary Aguero, world No. 2 Italy head to the first-ever Olympic gold confidently after a comfortable 3-0 win over Kazakhstan in women's volleyball on Monday.

Aguero, whose mother just past away for illness, appeared at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium after missing the team's first match against Russia on Saturday. The former Cuba veteran was said to travel to her birthday place to see her mother.

Aguero showed at the court in the second set and contributed 10 points for Italy. Escorted by a team official, she passed through the mixed zone quickly, ignoring microphones and cameras.

Italy's head coach Massimo Barbolini sang high praise for Aguero and her performances at the post-match press conference.

Players of Italy save the ball during women's volleyball Preliminary Pool B match against Kazakhstan at Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 11, 2008. Italy beat Kazakhstan 3-0. (Xinhua/Wang Jianhua)

"Aguero is an excellent player and she is also very strong. She is now in the great pain of losing her mother and she is also striving to recover from the sadness," said Barolini.

According to the coach, Aguero was back to team on Sunday and participated the training for today's match.

"I want to stress that she has been going through a hard time, both mentally and physically. During the past three days, she had spent more time in the plane than on the ground. But I believe she can recover gradually," he said.

Aguero's return also cheered up her teammates, who upset the mighty Russian with solid defense and coherent attacks.

"Aguero now is back, which make us even more confident in the rest matches. She has always been an important player of the team and we will also give her support to help get over the hard time," said Italy's captain Eleonora Lo Bianco.

The Italians showed their determination to win from the first minute. The tall, lean Kazakhstans posed a threat to their rivals at net, but their attacks could hardly be effective in front of the rivals' tenacious defense system. In addition, their weak defense was exposed to the quick attacks from Italy's wing spikers Fracesca Piccinini and Serena Ortolani.

Italt take the match 25-19, 25-15 and 25-21 in 66 minutes. Piccinini and Yelena Pavlova from Kazakhstan are top scorers with 12 points apiece.

Earlier in the day, the 2006 World Championship bronze medalist Serbia also harvest second victory by breezing past Olympic newcomer Algeria in straight sets, laying a solid foundation to enter the quarterfinals, while the north Africans suffered another blow after the 3-0 loss to Brazil on the opening day.

Twelve teams are competing in two groups in the preliminary round with top four finishers from each group to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Italy is grouped with Algeria, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia and Serbia in Pool B while defending champion China is with Cuba, Japan, Poland, United States and Venezuela in Pool A. The knockout stage runs from Aug. 19 to 23.


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