Seoul, South Korea, July 15, 2018 - Italy racked up its 500th victory at world level on Friday with a 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 25-17) result over China at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League that was led by Gabriele Maruotti's 17 points.
As play entered the fourth round at the Jangchung Gym, the Italians improved their winning run against China to 6-0 as wing spiker Maruotti dominated at the net with his tally including 15 spikes and two blocks.
The 30-year-old has been among the shining lights for the Italians as they hover around qualification for the VNL finals with a record now that stands at 6-4.
Another big contributor on Friday was the towering opposite spiker Gabriele Nelli who chimed in with 16 points that included three huge blocks in what was a sold team display from Italy.
China, on the other hand, continue to struggle, despite the effort of opposite spiker Jiang Chuan who tallied 19 points for the match to go to a tournament leading 191 points so far.
Their record now is 2-8 and coach Raul Lozano will be looking to rally his team as the tournament works towards its conclusion. While a rally in the third set saw Jiang Chuan and wing spiker Liu Libin - who finished with 12 points - match it with the Italians, the Chinese have so far struggled for any real consistency and they're on a 0-4 run.
Italian coach Gianlorenzo Blengini will meanwhile be hoping his charges can make it a clean sweep in Seoul. They still have South Korea and Australia to come and a 3-0 run would put Italy on the verge of qualification for the VNL finals, pending other results.
The 500th win makes them the third nation to achieve the tally, following Brazil and Russia (who also include matches played as the Soviet Union and the CIS).