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Unstoppable Italy strike gold at Boys' U19 Worlds after 22 years

 
Italy's triple block by Tommaso Stefani, Nicola Cianciotta and Alessandro Michieletto stops Russia's Omar Kurbanov in the final of the 2019 FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship in Tunis, as the 'Azzurri' are crowned world champions.
Tunis, Tunisia, August 30, 2019 - Incredible Italy proved just too powerful for Russia and completed a thrilling final at the 2019 FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship with a 3-1 (26-24, 21-25, 25-19, 25-18) win in the final here Friday night.

The 'Azzurri' wrapped up the competition undefeated with an 8-0 record, 22 years after their previous (and only other) success in the competition when Italy beat Greece for gold in 1997 in Tehran.


Italy celebrate in Tunis just after beating Russia in the final to claim gold at the 2019 FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship.

Russia's dash to a 1-6 start in the first set quickly evaporated and by the ninth point Italy had drawn level and even pulled ahead by a couple of points immediately after the second Technical Timeout.The two teams exchanged sideouts, with Italy first reaching set point at 23-24. Omar Kurbanov quickly cancelled that with a thundering crosscourt spike, but at Italy's second attempt to finish the set Kurbanov sent the ball wide from the left.

Again Italy had the upper hand in the second, opening up a three-point by the second Technical Timeout. But then Roman Murashko stepped up to serve and started relentlessly pounding the Italians to turn that around with a 6-0 run from 16-13 to 16-19. An ace by Stanislav Dineykin followed by an attack sent wide by Tommaso Stefani widened the gap to five. Italy did pull one back, but Kurbanov got the ball through the Italian block to convert Russia's first match ball.

It was Italy's turn to make a 5-0 break in the third set, pulling away after 6-6 for 11-6. And this time the 'Azzurri' kept - and even widened - their lead, reaching set point at 16-24. With Murashko again at the service Russia pulled three back, but eventually Tommaso Rinaldi got the crosscourt hit for the sideout that Italy needed.

Italy broke away even sooner in the fourth set, up by five at 10-5. Russia could not keep up with the pace Italy were setting and that lead quickly expanded with Italy arriving at match 24-16. Rinaldi from the left brought it home with yet another missile from the left.

Alessandro Michieletto was top scorer of the game with 20 points for Italy, as his team mate Stefani added another 18. Ilya Kazachenkov was Russia's best scorer with 16.

Italy's attacking efficiency of 49% (50/102) was vastly superior to Russia's 37% (36/97).

The result leaves Russia for the second time straight with the bitter taste of reaching the final but just not making it to the top step of the podium. Two years ago they had lost in the final, also in four sets, to Iran in Bahrain.

Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB.com - Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship - Tunisia 2019
FIVB.com - Volleyball
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