Rio de Janeiro: Brazil finally won their first gold medal in three consecutive finals by beating Italy 3-0 (25-22, 28-26, 26-24) in the men’s volleyball tournament of the Olympic Games, while the United States took the bronze medal at the Maracanazinho.
After coming up short in the last two editions of the Olympics as runners-up in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, the Brazilians on Sunday captured their third gold medal in the history of the competition, Xinhua news agency reported. It was also the first straight-set victory in a men’s Olympic final since Sydney 2000 when Yugoslavia beat Russia 3-0. Wallace de Souza carried most of the load of the Brazilian offence with a match-high 20 points, followed by Luis Felipe Fonteles with 11, including the final point with his block against Ivan Zaytsev.
Italy, who finished third in London Olympics four years ago, had to settle for their third silver medal to go with three bronzes. Zaytsev and Osmany Juantorena finished with 17 and 14 points respectively. In the first set, Brazil came to a four-point lead at 16-12. Italy came within one-point distance 22-21 via two opponent errors, but Lucarelli’ s ace restored order and Brazil claimed the set 25-22 when Zaytsev faulted with his serve. Juantorena put Italy in the lead 4-1 but Brazil came back soon to tie the score at 9-all with the block by Wallace.
Both teams kept battling point after point. Brazil broke the tie at 22-all with Wallace’ s spike,m then Wallace blocked Zaytsev and Mauricio de Souza served a winner for the 28-26 in favour of Brazil. The third set was also an intense battle. At 24-all, Lucas scored with a big spike and then Foneles blocked Zaytzev for the Olympic gold medal.
In the bronze medal play-off early on Sunday, gold medallists at the London 2012 Olympic Games Russia were two sets up against the United States, but the Americans stormed back to win the match 23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-13. This is the first time for Russia that they were left out of the podium since Atlanta 1996. –IANS
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