London 2012

Press release

Savani helps Italy top Bulgaria for men’s volleyball Olympic bronze

On the road to winning the men's Olympic bronze medal, from left, Italy's Dragan Travica, Luigi Mastrangelo and Cristian Savani put up a triple block against Bulgaria Sunday at Earls Court on the final day of the London 2012 Olympic Games

London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 –Italy lost the first set but rallied to come back and defeat Bulgaria, 3-1, avenging a preliminary round 0-3 loss to captured the men’s volleyball bronze medal Sunday morning before 12,000 fans at Earls Court on the final day of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Led by Italy’s Christian Savani overall play as the high scorer in the match with 23 points and the unity with the rest of his Italian comrades including four-time Italian Olympian Alessandro Fei, who won his third Olympic medal, giving him two bronze and one silver in his illustrious career. Vladimir Nikolov led Bulgaria with 12 points, 10 spikes and two blocks.

Italy’s coach Mauro Berruto was very vocal in his post-match comments, including, “In a sport like Volleyball, where there are 220 federations associated with the FIVB, to come in third is an enormous achievement. This was the maximum we could do. We have to recognize that there are two teams who are in front of us. Our tea hadn’t made the podium since 2005, Now it is time to attack the highest level. We are on the podium again and it is good to get used to being there. This medal will be the fuel to push us to go and grab the highest place on the podium.”

Speaking about his team, Berruto said, “I’m very proud of this team, because we showed to ourselves and to our country that it is not shameful to fall. It is the way you stand up again that count. I am moved and proud of this Italian team.

In regards to Bulgaria, Berruto commented, “I want to congratulate Bulgaria. With all of the internal and personnel issues they have had to deal with, Bulgaria played very, very good in these Olympics.”

Bulgaria’s coach Nayden Naydenov said after his team’s loss, “You can be happy when you lose but we played a good match.  We lost too many points on the counter-attack and Italy had a real good service in this match. We are really a young team. Most of our boys are playing in their first Olympic Games so we are happy with the results. We finished really high for a young team, so we have to be satisfied.”

Italy’s four-time Olympian Alessandro Fei had many things to say while hold his young daughter in the mixed zone following his team’s bronze medal victory. "Really is too difficult to compare the four Olympics I have been fortunate enough to participate in because each one is so special and each is equal in my mind. To have been part of teams that won three medals is very, very memorable as well. I will always remember with joy and gratitude my four trips to the Olympics with our Italian volleyball team.”

Regarding his future, Fei reflected, "I have spent my life in volleyball and for now I am going to take the rest of the summer off and go on vacation with my wife and children. I have been part of many great Italian teams and I really can't say what will happen next."

And finally, about getting ready to play Bulgaria, Fei said, "We lost to Bulgaria in preliminary play, and we haven't played as well as we would have liked here in London, but we are survivors and we knew we could beat them and we stepped up and did it even after losing the first set. We wanted a place on the podium and we got it. It is bellisimo."

Italy’s Savani said afterwards, “Not everyone is able to win an Olympic medal. We have been really good at pulling our teeth from beginning to end. Today, we served well. It’s been really tough, but now we have the bronze.”

Italy’s Luigi Mastrangelo remembered, “It wasn’t easy. We needed to stand up again after losing to Brazil 3-0 in Friday’s semifinal when we didn’t play at all. It is an Olympic medal. What’s important is for us to be able to go back to Italy with a medal around our necks.”

Italy’s Dragan Travica summed it up another way, “It was a difficult match for us. We had a team practice this morning and we were all very nervous, but we stuck together and fought hard to win. These Games are very special, they are the most special. Now that I have competed in the Olympic Games, I know the difference. The atmosphere is different to normal athletic life and the atmosphere was amazing here in London.”

The feeling of the Bulgarian players was expressed well by Teodor Salparov who said, “We wanted to so much to win this match. In the pool, we won 3-0 against Italy but today it was another match. They served very well. Fourth for us is like a gold medal. When we came here, people said it was impossible for us to finish fifth, sixth or seventh. But we played very well and looked to the world like a new team.”

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