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Serbia return to continental summit with Eurovolley 2019 triumph

Trophy aloft, as Serbia celebrate gold with their win over Slovenia in the final of the 2019 European Championship in Paris. (Photo: CEV)
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 29, 2019 - Serbia have returned to the top of Europe for the first time since 2011 with a glittering gold medal after they beat Slovenia 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-20) in the final of the 2019 Men's European Championship before 13,000 fans in Paris, Sunday night.

For a moment it seemed like Slovenia were on the verge of pulling off a third major upset in a row (after they had knocked out defending champions Russia in the quarterfinals and reigning world champions Poland in the semis).

But Serbia were quick to react after dropping the first set and promptly won the next three led by tournament MVP Uros Kovacevic (20 points today) and top scorer of the final Aleksandar Atanasijevic (22), with captain Nemanja Petric fittingly bringing it home with a thundering, unreturnable ace for match point.

Slovenia were once again well-rounded, but struggled to find their way past the Serbian block - Atanasijevic and Kovacevic each contributing four stuffs out of a total 14 for the winners - and also to put the ball on the floor.

It was Serbia's third gold medal in the 71-year history of the competition. They had also struck gold (as Yugoslavia) in 2001 and 2011 - on both occasions beating Italy in the final. They also own one silver and eight bronze medals.

For Slovenia it was only their second medal. They had also claimed silver in 2015, when they lost to France in the final.

A day earlier in Paris, Poland had shut out hosts France 3-0 (26-24, 25-22, 25-21), powered by Wilfredo Leon who scored 18 points - on par with France's Earvin Ngapeth. The match was decided on the net, with Poland outblocking France 9 to 4 and attacking for 55% (42/77) to 48% (43/90).

It marked Poland's return to the podium for the first time since their bronze of 2011, when they had beaten Russia in four sets for third place. Poland now boast one gold, five silver and three bronze European Championships medals.

• Final Ranking:
1. Serbia
2. Slovenia
3. Poland
4. France
5. Russia
6. Italy
7. Ukraine
8. Germany
9. Belgium
10. The Netherlands
11. Bulgaria
12. Turkey
13. Czech Republic
14. Finland
15. Spain
16. Greece
17. North Macedonia
18. Montenegro
19. Slovakia
20. Portugal
21. Romania
22. Belarus
23. Austria
24. Estonia

• More information on the CEV website.

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