Argentina hold off Tunisia
photo
Marcos Milinkovic does not quite agree with this decision
Argentina vs Tunisia
3 - 2
Sendai, Japan, November 28, 2006: Argentina came back from 2-1 down to beat Tunisia 3-2 in a desperate Pool E struggle at Sendai City Gymnasium on Tuesday afternoon.

The South Americans won 25-20, 25-27, 21-25, 25-21, 15-12 to improve their win-loss record to 1-5 and drop Tunisia to 0-6.

Both teams gave away easy points in the early stages with careless serving, before Argentina put a five-point run together from 6-4 to 11-4 to break open the set.

Marcos Milinkovic and Gustavo Scholtis were the architects of Argentina's run, which was ended with a fine spike from the left by Noureddine Hfaiedh.

The Tunisians were strangely subdued, despite the efforts of libero Amine Besrour to shake them out of their lethargy with his vocal encouragement.

Gustavo Porporatto and Alejandro Spajic began to dominate the net, and Milinkovic brought up the second TTO with a stylish strike from the right, 16-9.

When Scholtis pounded another winner from the left to move his team ahead 21-16, Tunisia called the first TO of the match. The talk had an immediate impact, as Hosni Karamosly scored at the net to give his team hopes of a late rally.

Setter Luciano De Cecco showed his quick thinking and expert technique with a swift left-handed flick into space to take Argentina nearer their target, and Gaston Giani finished it 25-20 on the right with a sharply-angled kill from a high leap.

In the second set, Tunisia turned more to Aymen Ben Brik, but he was well blocked and replaced by Khaled Belaid. Mohamed Trabelsi showed his quality at the net as Tunisia made up ground after a slow start, and captain Ghazi Guidara set a fine example with some agile digging.

The Tunisians were in the game now, and a Belaid block moved them two points ahead, 12-10, and brought an Argentina TO.

Behind the floating serves of Spajic, which he followed up with determined digging, and more good work out wide from Giani, the South Americans caught up midway through the set, and trailed by only one, 16-15, at the second TTO -- a crashing left-wing winner from the impressive Hfaiedh.

The Tunisian block was moving quickly to thwart Milinkovic and Scholtis, and when Hichem Kaabi beat the Argentine defence for 21-18, Argentina coach Jon Uriarte needed his second TO of the set.

Spajic and Trabelsi exchanged powerful spikes at the net as the teams remained close, and an alert piece of play from Porporatto brought Argentina level 23-23 and forced a Tunisia TO.

Tunisia missed two set points before, at 26-25, Hfaiedh outfoxed Milinkovic on Argentina's right flank to score a scrappy but crucial point to end the set 27-25 for 1-1.

Argentina made a slow start to the third set, and trailed by three at the first TTO. Hfaiedh was proving difficult to stop, and Argentina called a TO on falling behind 12-9 due to some wild spiking.

Belaid pounced at the net to move Tunisia further ahead, 14-10, at which point Uriarte replaced the misfiring Scholtis with Leandro Concina, and Belaid, now on the left, brought up the second TTO 16-11.

When Hfaiedh blocked Milinkovic for 18-11, Tunisia were well on top, and Kaabi, with a mighty leap and clean hit on the right, kept them moving forward.

The blocking of Milinkovic and Spajic helped Argentina close the gap, and Concina spiked powerfully from the left to reduce their arrears to four at 22-18. A lightning strike from Belaid on the left brought up set point for Tunisia at 24-20, and a long serve from De Cecco handed the Africans the third frame 25-21 for them to lead 2-1.

Kaabi's spiking and digging was the feature of Tunisia's determined start to the fourth set, and a wristy winner from Hfaiedh gave them a two-point advantage at the first technical break.

Argentina needed a TO down 12-8, and came back to surge ahead 14-12. When Milinkovic made it 15-13, Tunisia sent in Ben Brik for Belaid, but Argentina had the momentum 16-13 at the second TTO.

Spajic, with a lusty blow at the net, Milinkovic on the right following a spectacular back-court dig from Jeronimo Bidegain, and Concina took Argentina to 22-19 and within sight of the set. Spajic was the dominant figure down the stretch, as Argentina closed it out 25-21 on their first set point for 2-2.

Porporatto went into the tie-break with four block points among his 12 in total and was quick to influence the decider with his work at the net as Argentina jumped out to 4-1. Kaabi was still a huge threat for Tunisia, though, and when he rose on the right and spiked ferociously for 4-4, Argentina took a TO.

An attacking error from Spajic enabled Tunisia to pull level 6-6, but Milinkovic's bullet serve at Belaid restored Argentina's two-point lead, 8-6, at the turnaround.

Argentina stayed in front, but only just, and had two match point at 14-12, and Milinkovic ended it on the right 15-12.
(FIVB)
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