Italy triumph again at #EuroVolleyU18M


Article Sun, Jul 17 2022
Author: Victoria Georgieva

After being crowned champions of Europe at the CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship - Men in 2020, the Italian team defended the title, repeating the success at the 2022 edition of the competition, that took place in Tbilisi, Georgia, from July 9 to 17. The players of head coach Michele Zanini started their journey to the trophy from Pool II, recording five victories out of five matches (against Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia and Greece), then outclassing Serbia in three sets to arrive to the Gold Medal Match, where they locked horns with France, and won in three sets.

The French players, who finish with the Silver medals, topped the charts in Pool I (with one victory and one loss), to afterwards disappoint Bulgaria in the semi-finals (winning in three sets). Even though the French didn’t win the trophy in the Big Finale, there is a significant improvement in their performance, as in 2020, they didn’t even make it to Top 8.

The Bulgarian players, on the other hand, go home with the Bronze medals, making it to the podium after finishing fourth in 2020. In a real Volleyball thriller, the Young Bulgarian Lions outplayed Serbia in five sets in the Bronze Medal Match.

Dream team of #EuroVolleyU18M

Outside Hitters: Aleksandar Kandev (BUL) - Lorenzo Magliano (ITA)
Middle Blockers: Pardo Mati (ITA) - Joris Seddik (FRA)
Opposite: Thomas Pujol (FRA)
Setter: Simeon Nikolov (BUL)
Libero: Enzo Lopez (FRA)
MVP: Tommaso Barotto (ITA)

Gold Medal Match

France 0-3 Italy (22-25, 19-25, 23-25)

Italy outplayed their opponents in three sets, controlling the game throughout the whole match, and leaving no doubts they were the team that deserved the Gold.

Statistically, the Young Squadra Azzura dominated completely on the attack, finishing the game with 44 winning spikes, to 31 by the French. As many as 14 kill blocks (to eight) also played a pivotal role on the road to the success. The young Les Blues outperformed their opponents acing four times (to zero), and even though they scored more on their opponents’ errors (19 to 15), this wasn’t enough to take a set.
Tommaso Barotto topped the charts with 16 points to his name, followed by Lorenzo Magliano with 15, Alessandro Bristot with 12 and Pardo Mati with 10. For France, only Thomas Pujol reached the double digits, finishing with 11 points.

Lorenzo Magliano with two successful spikes in the beginning of the first set gave Italy the leadership position. The game seemed to be then a balanced one, but the Italian squad, led by Barotto, showed better concentration in the deciding moments. Bristot with a kill block and a spike after the 20th point, contributed a lot for the set-win by the Italians. Five kill blocks were crucial for Italy in this part.

France tried to respond in the beginning of the second set, with Tom Leroyer on the serve, taing a 3-0 lead. Barotto and Bristot tried to respond, but the French kept the control. Magliano with some crucial contributions helped to turn the table. After a point-for-point race until the 14th point, again Barotto and Magliano took the responsability (16-14), and bringing a calmer approach to the game, the Italians emerged victorious. Another five kill blocks by the Italians made the difference in this set, together with 14 winning spikes (to nine).

A real Volleyball battle on the court highlighted the third set until the 14th point. Barotto again made difference, delivering strong performance on the serving line. Thomas Pujol and Leroyer tried their best, getting closer to the opponent. France saved two matchpoints, but it wasn’t enough, and Italy congratulated themselves, winning the trophy.

Bronze Medal Match

Bulgaria 3-2 Serbia (25-21, 18-25, 21-25, 25-11, 15-9)

Bulgaria claimed the bronze medals after a five-setter against Serbia. The players around head coach Viktor Karagyozov proved better, improving their 2020 performance when they finished on the fourth place, just one step away from the podium.
On Sunday, the Young Bulgarian Lions showed mental strength, as after taking the first set, lost the next two ones, but could they find their way back in the next two, to eventually emerge victorious.

Overall, Bulgaria were better on the attack (56 to 52 winning spikes) and showed better performance on the serving line (12 to five aces, four in the tie-break only). Serbia were more powerful on the block (nine to six). As many as 26 points by match top scorer Luka Stankovic weren’t enough for a better outcome for the Serbs. For the winners, Kristiyan Titriyski and Aleksandar Kandev both finished with 24 points each.

The Bulgarians started better in the first set, with Kristiyan Titriyski on the serve making it difficult for the Serbs (11-7). However, led by Luka Stankovic with some powerful spikes, Serbia tied the game (15-15). After a close call afterwards, Titriyski on the serve turned out again to be Bulgaria’s trump card as they emerged victorious at 25-21.
As many as 20 winning spikes sealed the deal for Bulgaria in this set (to 14 by Serbia).

The players of head coach Bozko Macuzic responded quickly, storming to a 11-3 lead in the second set. With the set unfolding, the Serbs continued dominating, delivering some good plays on the block, finishing at 5-0 kill blocks in this set.

Inspired, Serbia got closer to the win, after grabbing the third set as well. Even though the Bulgarians seemed more concentrated (6-6), Serbia counted on strong performance on the serve by Marija Milanovic and good contributions by Stankovic. Bulgaria responded with Titriyskiy’s successful attacks, but in a game of nerves, Stankovic was impeccable towards the end of the set. As many as 24 errors costed Bulgaria a better outcome in this set.

Nothing was over for Bulgaria who then showed great mentality and team spirit, disappointing the opponents in the fourth set, finishing with five aces (to zero), three blocks (to zero) and nine to six winning spikes.

In the deciding set, Serbia started better, but with some good contribution by Aleksandar Kandev, Bulgaria took the leadership position (8-5). Kostadin Kozelov on the serving line tuned out to be Karagyozov’s last trick up the sleeve in this match, as Kozelov recorded three consecutive aces (13-8).