Rome, Italy, October 10, 2010 - World No. 4 Serbia finished off a superb FIVB Men’s World Championship campaign by beating hosts and world No. 5 Italy 3-1 (25-21, 25-20,26-28, 25-19) for the bronze medal at the PalaLottomatica on Sunday. The win represents Serbia’s second World Championship medal after winning silver in 1998 and their 28th win in 49 matches against the “Azzurri”. Italy missed the chance to add to their impressive World Championship medal collection which includes three gold (1990-1998) and one silver in 1978.
Both Italy and Serbia were in the playoff for bronze after losing to Brazil and Cuba in Saturday’s semifinals.
Italy’s starting six were middle blockers Gigi Mastrangelo and Emanuele Birarelli, spikers Simone Parodi and Cristian Savani, setter Valerio Vermiglio and top scorer for Italy Alessandro Fei. Igor Kolakovic’s starting lineup was composed of spikers Nikola Kovacevic and Bojan Janic, middle blocker Dragan Stankovicv, captain Nikola Grbic, top scorer Ivan Miljkovic and libero Nikola Rosic.
Miljkovic led all scorers with 22 points in the match, while teammate Podrascanin added 15 points. Parodi paced the Italian side with 18 points as Fei added 13 points. Serbia dominated the block with a 17-9 block advantage to offset Italy's 52-47 margin in attack points. Serbia also took advantage of 34 Italy errors to their own 23.
Janic had the honour of serving the first ball but it was Italy who scored first thanks to the block of Mastrangelo. Fei took his team by the hand almost immediately and centred two points which brought Italy to a 6-2 advantage. The first technical timeout saw Italy return on to the court with an 8-5 lead and Fei's impressive attacking percentage with eight points, allowing Anastasi’s team to cruise through the set until a tactical timeout called by Italy at 14-13. An ace by Serbia’s star player Miljkovic tied the score 15-15. A block by the magic duo of Mastrangelo and Fei brought the score to 21-20 for Serbia, but Italy only managed to score another point and Serbia closed the set at 25-21. Percentage rates on attack were practically equal during the first set with Italy at 45 percent and Serbia at 44 percent.
Serbia started the second set on the right foot thanks to a Stankovic attack and while Italy temporarily re-discovered some momentum, they still had difficulty in defending, forcing coach Andrea Anastasi to call a tactical timeout at 14-10 to remedy the situation. In part they did, closing to two points behind Serbia with the score at 16-14. Parodi spiked a superb ball at 19-15, but then failed to receive the next one. Fei’s winning attacks kept Italy in the running until 24-20, but then an incredible one-man block by Stankovic handed the second set to Serbia who settled the score at 25-20. Serbia’s reception rate increased tremendously during the second set to reach 83 percent, while Italy’s attack percentage rate dropped drastically to 38 percent. Top scorer for Italy was Parodi with six points, while Serbia’s Miljkovic recorded seven points.
It was the same story in the third set. Serbia took control immediately to reach the first technical timeout at 8-5. Back on to the court, Birarelli spiked, the Italian trio blocked and scored, and Savani served an ace which gave Italy a momentary 9-8 lead. Fei tied the score at 12-12, and then the set became a back and forth dance, with the second technical timeout called at 16-14 for Serbia. With the score at 18-14 in favour of Serbia, Anastasi opted for a substitution and called upon Ivan Zaytsev, who mesmerized the audience with some incredible play, including a spike from the back line. The set seemed to be transformed as Italy took the lead 21-20. A revitalized Italian team won the third set 28-26 with the closing point an ace by Zaytsev. Top scorer for Italy was Parodi who registered seven points, while Serbia’s main man was Miljovic. Italy’s win in the third set was due to an increased reception rate of 75 percent.
Serbia came out fighting in the fourth set and went to the bench with an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout. Kolakovic’s team decided it was time to close the game and accumulated a lightning 16-7 lead. Serbia closed the set at 25-19 with an attack by star player Milkovic.