Sep 1 2013, 4:22am CDT | by IANS
Sapporo (Japan), Sep 1 — European champions Serbia Sunday won the bronze medal with a 3-2 (22-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-16, 15-11) victory over Italy in the last day of the World Grand Prix Women's Volleyball Finals.
The Serbs were led by Jovana Brakocevic and Brankica Mihajlovic with 26 points each while Valentina Diouf was Italy's top scorer, also with 26. Serbia came up with 19 blocking points to Serbia's 12 but Italy had the edge in serving, 8-6, reports Xinhua.
There wasn't more than a point's gap between the two from 3-3 to 10-10 when spikes by Diouf and Bosetti opened up a two-point gap. Two spikes by Jelena Nikolic drew the teams level at 14 before good hits by Martina Guiggi and Carolina Costagrande gave Italy another two-point advantage at 20-18, prompting Serbia coach Zoran Terzic to call a timeout.
An ace by Serbian captain Maja Ognjenovic helped Serbia close the gap and the two teams were still level at 22 when Milena Rasic sent a serve long. Italy then held off two big spikes by Brakocevic to set up a winner for Diouf that brought set-point at 24-22. Serbia then failed to deal with a serve by Letizia Camera and Italy were 1-0 up.
The second set featured a remarkable turnaround by Serbia. Italy's captain Guiggi came up with nice blocks on Brakocevic and Rasic to help Italy to a three-point lead at the first timeout.
Italy challenged a call at 9-5 which turned a long serve into an ace and gave Italy a five-point lead. Valentina Arrighetti delivered successive blows and Italy were six points ahead (13-7) when Terzic called a timeout. Bosetti delivered another ace for Italy and a kill by Costagrande put the Italians eight points up.
After falling behind (11-20), Italy went down. Brakocevic came up with two big hits and set Serbia as they moved into lead with a block by Mihajlovic. Rasic made a quick shot for set-point and Mihajlovic blocked Diouf for the set.
Italy breezed into a five-point lead in the third set and classic play by them led them to close the set easily. Costagrande then sent a nice shot down the left line to put Italy 2-1 up.
It stayed close in the early stages of the fourth set but Serbia pulled away from 8-8. A block by Rasic on Costagrande gave Serbia a four-point advantage at the second timeout and they were six points up at 21-15. Costagrande sent a shot wide and Mihajlovic blocked Diouf to end the set and send the match to a tiebreaker.
Serbia took an early lead in the tie-beaker with Ognjenovic got another tip-over at the net and Mihajlovic sent down a couple of tough kills. Serbia was 8-6 up at the changeover and three points up after Bosetti sent a shot wide. Nikolic came up with a good block on Diouf and a rocket by Mihajlovic put Serbia 13-9 ahead.
Serbia got match-point on a missed shot by Diouf and Mihajlovic sent down the winning shot to earn Serbia the bronze.
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