Florence, Italy, 5 October, 2010 – The Nelson Mandela Forum hosted a spectacular match on the second day of the third round of the FIVB Men's World Championship as Serbia toppled Russia 28-26, 16-25, 25-21, 27-25. In the process, Serbia finished 2-0 in Pool P and became the first team to book a berth in the semifinal round to be played on October 9 and 10 in Rome.
Serbia's Ivan Miljkovic scored a match-high 26 points with 25 spikes and a block and teammate Nikola Kovacevic earned 12 spikes and three blocks for 15 points. Maxim Mikhaylov registered 21 spikes, one block and an ace for 23 points for Russia. Serbia, the world No4, overcame opponents ranked two places higher despite conceding 32 points through errors.
FIVB Men's World Championship 2010 official page
There was tension on the court as the action got under way and the Serbians were guilty of some early mistakes in attack. Russia began to impose themselves with some impressive blocking and defensive work, and at the Second Technical Timeout (STT) they were 16-13 ahead. Serbia at this stage seemed to require more than captain Nikola Grbic's sets with his wing hitter Miljkovic and Russia were able to widen the gap to 21-18. Yet Serbia countered and at 24-24 Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli called a timeout. The set was slipping away from his men, however, and Kovacevic made sure with a fantastic block.
Both teams showed their class in the second set. Miljkovic was on song for Serbia but Russia's cohesive team work kept them in front at 8-6 at the First Technical Timeout (FTT). They extended that lead to 11-6 with a five-point break made on the back of opposition errors and did not surrender the initiative, moving to 21-14 by the STT. Russia had a 60 per cent attack advantage in the second set, which was closed by a Serbian attacking fault.
The third set was all about Grbic. Serbia's skipper attacked, set and blocked like the Olympic champion that he is. Serbia led 10-4 as Bagnoli's team struggled to keep pace. Looking timid on the counterattack, Russia served up some sweet aces but paid the price for their receiving errors as Mljkovic closed the set with a smashing kill.
In the fourth set the Russians, staring exclusion from the semifinals in the face, battled back to lead 11-8. But Stankovic's spikes levelled the scores again. Every point was now a battle but Serbia took a two-point advantage. Russia called a timeout trailing 21-19 but despite their desperate counterattacking, Igor Kolakovic's men continued on their winning course, with Miljkovic's last attack sealing their passage to the last four in Rome.