Serbia confirm status as women's volleyball powerhouse with victory at world meet

Serbia confirm status as women's volleyball powerhouse with victory at world meet

Serbia players celebrate a point during the final against Italy. PHOTO: FIVB
Serbia players celebrate a point during the final against Italy. PHOTO: FIVB

Yokohama: Serbia were crowned world champions for the first time after beating Italy 3-2 in the final of the FIVB women's world championship yesterday.

The historic victory confirmed Serbia's powerhouse status in world volleyball following their second-place finish two years ago at the Rio Olympic Games.

The Balkan side won a world championship bronze in 2006. For Italy, silver was their second medal overall in the history of the competition -- but a step down from their gold in 2002.

In the first ever all-European final at the championship, Tijana Boskovic scored 26 points to lead Serbia to a 21-25, 25-14, 23-25, 25-19, 15-12 victory.

After twice coming back from a set down to force a tie-break, Serbia led by two points at the start of the fifth and remained on track till the end to seal their gold medal.

Tijana Boskovic scored 26 points to lead Serbia to a 3-2 (21-25, 25-14, 23-25, 25-19, 15-12) win over Italy in the final of the FIVB Women's World Championship last night.

Brankica Mihajlovic backed Boskovic with 19 points, while Stefana Veljkovic and Milena Rasic scored 10 each.

Paola Egonu, who smashed the all-time scoring record in the competition with 45 points in their semi-final victory over China, led Italy with a match-high 33 points in the loss, while Lucia Bosetti added 14.

Egonu, for the fourth time in this tournament, scored in the 30s or above and yesterday's 33 boosted her tally for a total of an incredible 324 points, confirming her place as top scorer of this tournament and of all time.

Serbia had earlier beaten Italy 3-1 in the third round of the tournament.

Li Yingying scored a match-high 20 points as China defeated the Netherlands 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-14) in the third-place match.

Yuan Xinyue and Gong Xiangyu both scored 11 points for China in the victory.

Lonneke Sloetjes led the Netherlands with 15 points in the loss.

The result marked the first time that China, a two-time champions, have won the bronze medal at the championship.

"We are very happy to finish third. I will reflect on my shortcomings so we can do better," said China captain Zhu Ting.

Despite the loss, the Dutch recorded their best finish ever in the event with fourth place.

China lost to Italy in their semi-final on Friday, while the Netherlands fell to Serbia.

Defending champions United States downed hosts Japan 3-1 (25-23, 25-16, 23-25, 25-23) in the fifth-place match on Friday.


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