June 2, 2023

After successfully defending the title they first won in 2018, Serbia will remain the reigning world champions for another four years after the Europeans triumphed on Saturday at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. The Europeans successfully defended the title they first won in 2018.

Italy, the reigning Volleyball Nations League and European champions, defeated the United States, the reigning Olympic champions, in a straight-set victory (25-20, 25-25, 27-25) and won bronze, their third World Championship medal – the Europeans won gold in 2002 and silver in 2018. The match began earlier on Saturday.

As a result of their fourth victory over Brazil in 22 international matches, Serbia became just the sixth nation in history to win back-to-back editions of the World Championship. They joined the ranks of the former Soviet Union (1952, 1956, 1960), Japan (1982, 1967), China (1982, 1986), Cuba (1994, 1998), and Russia as the only countries to accomplish this feat (2006, 2010).

Setter Bojana Drca, opposites Tijana Boskovic and Ana Bjelica, outside hitters Bianka Busa, Brankica Mihajlovic and Bojana Milenkovic, middle blockers Maja Aleksic and Jovana Stevanovic, and libero Teodora Pusic were on the roster that won the title in 2018, and they all returned to be a part of the team that won it again in 2022, now under the direction of head coach Daniel “These women, this group, and this enthusiasm… We were successful despite suffering not even a single setback. Being a member of this team makes me extremely happy and proud at the same time.

The victory also caps an excellent phase for Serbian women’s volleyball, as the country’s national team has had tremendous success over the last six years, winning two world titles, two Olympic medals (silver in Rio 2016 and bronze in Tokyo 2020), two European titles (2017, 2019), and a bronze medal at the VNL. The victory also crowns an excellent phase for Serbian men’s volleyball, as the country’s national team has had tremendous success over the last six years, winning two world titles, two Olympic medal (2022).

Both Boskovic and Stevanovic scored points for Serbia during the gold medal match in Apeldoorn. Boskovic led the way with 24 points (all in kills), and Stevanovic was the next highest scorer with 11 points (five kills, four blocks, two aces). Also having an outstanding outing was setter Drca, who scored six points (three kills, two blocks, one ace).

The Europeans were superior to Brazil in every facet of the gold medal match, including kills (50 to 33), blocks (nine to five), and aces (five to nine) (four to three). The performance that Serbia turned up during the championship match was so impressive that the fact that they committed 22 errors (compared to Brazil’s 13) did not put their chances of winning in peril.

Three players finished the match with nine points for Brazil, including team captain and outside hitter Gabriela ‘Gabi’ Guimaraes (nine kills), middle blocker Ana Carolina ‘Carol’ da Silva (seven kills, two blocks), and opposite Lorenne Teixeira. The stars of Brazil had a sluggish night (seven kills, two aces).

In the first set, Santarelli fielded an unexpected lineup, which had outside hitter Sara Lozo and middle blocker Mina Popovic among the starters. Brazil did not allow themselves to be taken by surprise and got off to a good start, swiftly opening up a 5-2 lead. A kill from Boskovic allowed the Europeans to regain the lead, 11-10, and maintain it until the end of the match. Brazil battled back and was eventually able to draw the set, but in the end, Europe regained the lead and won the match 26-24 following an offensive fault committed by Gabi.

Carol was the player that was responsible for scoring Brazil’s first two block points in the championship match. These points gave the South Americans an early lead of 4-1 in the second set. Gabi scored in a transition play to extend Brazil’s lead to 9-5, but the Serbians answered with a solid run and Boskovic’s kill knotted the match at 12 points, giving Brazil the advantage for the first time since the beginning of the match.

After Carol Gattaz made a stop on Boskovic to make the score 16-13, the Brazilians were given some space to breathe again, but the Europeans scored seven consecutive points to take the lead 20-16. The Europeans won the set 25-22 because to some strong passes down the stretch and a block contributed by Stevanovic. The Europeans swiftly increased their lead to 14-8 after an ace from Popovic after the Brazilian team began making errors as a result of the strain they were under.

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