Poles and the hosts of this tournament – Italians, who defended this title, fought for the gold medal of the European Championships. It was the first European Championship final for the White and Reds since 2009.
For the first time since 2009, Polish volleyball players had a chance to win the gold medal at the European Championships. Their rivals were the defenders of this title – Italians. The White and Reds also faced them in the world championship final. Then Nikola Grbic’s players had to acknowledge Italy’s superiority.
Great play by the Poles from the beginning of this match
In this match, Nikola Grbic chose six players: Marcin Janusz, Łukasz Kaczmarek, Norbert Huber, Jakub Kochanowski, Aleksander Śliwka, Wilfredo Leon and Paweł Zatorski (libero). This match started fantastically for our volleyball players. The first two points were scored by Wilfredo Leon, who surprised his rivals. And the next two were scored directly from serve by Norbert Huber. Even the break taken by Ferdinando De Giorgi did not help Italy.
A moment later, the White and Reds jumped to 8:4 thanks to another service ace, this time scored by Jakub Kochanowski. The Italians asked for a second break when the score was 12:7, and the last point was scored by Norbert Huber from… a serve. Nikola Grbic’s players did not allow themselves to lose the advantage in this set, although towards the end the current European champions started to find their rhythm. Ultimately, in this set, the Poles triumphed 25:20 (we were leading 22:14), scoring four points directly from serve in this set.
The Italians got into the swing of things in the second set, but if there’s any fear, it’s up to Leon
Aleksander Śliwka started the second set with… a service ace. In this game the game was more even than in the previous one. That doesn’t mean it was any less exciting. At some point, there was a spark between WIlfredo Leon and the Italians, who tried to force a point from the referee after touching the receiver. Gianelli, the Pole’s club friend, dragged his compatriots away from the net.
It was only with the score of 8:8 that the advantage of the Poles began to emerge and they gained three points (13:10). Unfortunately, the rivals equalized very quickly – 13:13, which made Nikola Grbic ask for a break and appealed for patience. When fear comes, it goes to Leon, who gave us a 16:15 lead with a service ace, and then, after a series of great serves, allowed us to jump back to 20:15. In the decisive phase of the set we kept our cool and won 25:21.
The Italians started the third set with a two-point lead. The defending champions were focused and effective in attack from the very beginning. Only when the score was 6-9 for Italy, Nikola Grbic asked for a break to break the rhythm of his rivals. It was Norbert Huber who woke the world champions from their trance by first scoring another service ace and then harassing his rivals with his serve. With the score 9:10, it was Ferdinando De Giorgi who called for a timeout. It was of no use, because after a while Łukasz Kaczmarek managed to equalize the score. In the end, the White and Reds were better and triumphed 25:23, which allowed them to enjoy their first European Championship gold in fourteen years.