Boskovic scores 24 as the Europeans return to the top of the podium
Serbia will continue as the reigning world champions for another four years after the Europeans successfully defended the title they first won in 2018 on Saturday, triumphing at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.
The Serbians ended their undefeated 11-match campaign at the 19th edition of the tournament in an emphatic manner, sweeping (26-24, 25-22, 25-17) former FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Ranking leaders Brazil to claim gold and take their place on the podium again.
Earlier on Saturday, reigning Volleyball Nations League and European champions Italy dominated Olympic champions the United States to a straight-set (25-20, 25-25, 27-25) victory and took bronze, their third World Championship medal – the Europeans won gold in 2002 and silver in 2018.
· All FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2022 matches are available on demand on Volleyball TV.
The fourth victory for the Europeans over the South Americans in 22 international encounters made of them just the sixth nation to win back-to-back editions of the World Championship, joining the former USSR (1952, 1956, 1960), Japan (1982, 1967), China (1982, 1986), Cuba (1994, 1998) and Russia (2006, 2010).
Nine players who were part of the roster that won the title in 2018 returned to triumph again in 2022 – 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 – now under the leadership of head coach Daniele Santarelli.
“I’m speechless,” team captain Boskovic commented. “These girls, this team, this energy…We did it without losing a single match. I’m so happy and so proud to be part of this team. I want to thank everyone that supported us these past three weeks, especially my family.”
The victory also crowns 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 (2022).
Serbia had the top two scorers of the gold medal match in Apeldoorn, with Boskovic leading the way with 24 points (all in kills) and Stevanovic coming next with 11 (five kills, four blocks, two aces). Setter Drca also had an excellent performance, with six points (three kills, two blocks, one ace).
The Europeans dominated the gold medal match, outscoring Brazil in kills (50 to 33), blocks (nine to five) and aces (four to three). The Serbian performance in the final was so strong that not even their 22 errors (to Brazil’s 13) put things in jeopardy.
The Brazil stars had a slower night with three players ending the match with nine points – 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 (seven kills, two aces).
Santarelli sent a surprising lineup to the court in set 1, with outside hitter Sara Lozo and middle blocker Mina Popovic among the starters. Brazil weren’t caught off guard and had a strong start, quickly building a 5-2 lead. The Europeans fought back and took the lead at 11-10, with a kill from Boskovic. With consecutive block points from Drca and Lozo, the Serbians improved their lead to two points at 16-14. Brazil fought back and eventually tied the set, but in the end, the Europeans went ahead again and won 26-24 after an offensive error from Gabi.
Brazil’s first two block points in the final, scored by Carol, gave the South Americans an early 4-1 lead in the second set. The Brazilian advantage went up by another point at 9-5, when Gabi scored in a transition play, but the Serbians responded with a good run and tied the match at 12 points with a kill from Boskovic. The Brazilians got some breathing room again when Carol Gattaz stopped Boskovic to score 16-13, but the Europeans then scored seven in a row to go up 20-16. Another pair of blocks from Carol brought the Brazilians closer at 21-20 and there was a tie at 22-22 with an ace from Tainara Santos. With good plays at the end and a block from Stevanovic, the Europeans took the set 25-22.
A big block from Stevanovic helped Serbia start the third set ahead, with a 6-3 lead. Under pressure, the Brazilians started making mistakes and the European advantage quickly improved to 14-8 with an ace from Popovic. With their efficient offensive system going at full pace, the Serbians were able to keep control of the set until the end and celebrated their second world title with tremendous excitement after Boskovic outplayed the Brazilian block for a final time to score 25-17.
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