Italian setter Eleonora Lo Bianco in the Final against Serbia
Luxembourg, September 30, 2007.
In presence of CEV President Mr. André Meyer, the Presidents of the Belgian and Luxembourg Volleyball Federations, Mr. Philip Berben and Peter Eichstaedt, as well as several international and national authorities, Italy celebrated their first title in European Championship history in a hard-fought final on Sunday, following their 2nd place 2001 in Varna and 2005 in Zagreb. Italy, who had won seven straight games to reach the final unbeaten, came home spectacularly 26-24, 25-18, 25-21. The Serbians held the lead at the two technical breaks in the first set, but collapsed at 23-19.
As expected, the battle for supremacy in the middle of the court was ferocious. Although Serbian captain Vesna Citakovic put the block on the dangerous Taismary Aguero on one notable occasion, the Italian livewire could not be kept quiet at the end of the first frame. Del Core was everywhere, her speed, athletic leap and controlled power causing all sorts of problems for the Serbian defense.
With Del Core on fire, backed up by the usual supporting cast, Italy were able to string together a series of points in the crucial time. Four powerful serves by Jenny Barazza moved Italy ahead 24-23, and Italy finished three points later when Taismary Aguero served an ace. Italy continued strongly in the second set, and took heart from two searing winners from Manuela Secolo and Aguero on successive points. When Simona Gioli added another service ace, Italy took a comfortably 12-6 lead.
More doubts were beginning to creep into Serbia's game, and when poor serve reception gifted Italy another point to make it 21-13, the cards were put on the table. Secolo opened up the Serbian block with a scorcher down the middle, Aguero struck from the back row and Secolo again found a way through a massive red wall of Serbian blockers to close out the set in Italy’s favor, 25-18. Serbia needed to come up with a few answers quickly, but failed. Secolo threatened Serbia down the left flank, helping them lead 8-6 at the first technical time-out.
Aguero was becoming more and more influential as the third set wore on, and Serbia knew they could not afford to let her cut loose, otherwise it would spell even more trouble. Del Core was enjoying her best match of tournament, though. But when an Italian mistake let the Serbians striking back, 18-17, Massimo Barbolini called a time-out, and Italy pulled back to 20-20. From this point on, the Italians were unstoppable. Aguero fired from the left, before Lo Bianco brought up match point for Italy with a block kill at 24-21. Serbia looked to Ivana Isailovic to get them out of trouble, but she sliced her serve two centimeters too long, causing a cheer of relief and happiness amongst the faithful Italian fans.
World champion Russia started and finished strongly to beat Poland 3:1 and win the bronze medal at the 2007 Women’s Indesit European Championship on Sunday. The Poles took the first set 25-17 but Russia fought back in spectacular style to win the next three 25-22, 25-14, 25-20. On their second match point, Ekaterina Gamova finished the match 25-20 to spark wild Russian celebrations at “Le Coque” in Luxembourg. Poland won the first set 25-21, as the Russian attack failed to spark. The Russian relied heavily, perhaps too much, in fact, on Ekaterina Gamova, and the Polish block responded accordingly. Katarzyna Skowronska on the right wing was crying out for more action, and she sent some sizzling winners across court when given the chance. Poland, though, looked slightly slicker in all departments.
Malgorzata Glinka, who has had an excellent tournament for the Poles, scored an important point on the left to force a Russian time-out when they fell behind 21-23. With Libero Mariola Zenik in her best form, the Russians could not keep up and surrendered the first set by four points. The Russians looked somewhat more motivated and determined than Poland, and led 8-7 and 16-11 at the two technical breaks in the second set. Elena Godina and Liubov Shashkova kept the points coming, whereas Eleonora Dziekiewicz and Maria Liktoras were unable to make much headway at the net. With the second set slipping away 21-23, Marco Bonitta asked setter Milena Sadurek to play faster.
Liktoras responded with a blistering winner in the middle, but the World champions had the second set in the bag. Fittingly, Gamova finished it with a kill from the left, 25-22. Some powerful serves from Godina rocked Poland at the start of the third set, and a flashing Gamova spike helped take Russia to the first Polish time-out with a three-point lead, 0-3. The Russians had found a spark and now began to crackle. Shashkova, Safronova and Gamova all produced some sharp, clean winners to open up a seven-point lead at the first technical break, 8-1. The Russian blocking was the outstanding feature in the third set. Skowronska brought Poland closer with some clever serves, and then Liktoras made up the leeway to three points, 8-11. But the Russians were determined to give this set their best shot, stepping up the lead to 21-10 with a Safronova winner on the left. Shashkova concluded to 14, vanishing the Polish hopes for the bronze medal into thin air. Poland set about repairing the damage in the fourth set, but Russia led 8-6 at the first technical time-out and then 10-7. Liktoras was more prominent at the net, and Skowronska scored with a clever drop-shot over the Russian block.
A service winner from Merkulova carried Russia to the second technical time-out with a 16-13 lead. Poland bounced back to 19-23, but a Gamova kill gave Russia match point at 24-19. After Poland had saved one, Gamova finished the job on the left wing.
This 25th edition of the Women’s Indesit European Championship marked a new challenge for the CEV and the organizers, as for the first time in European Championship annals the Final Round has been stocked up to a total of 16 teams compared to 12 in previous years. On the first stage all 16 participants were divided into four groups. The three best teams of each group qualified for the Final Round, divided into two groups of six teams. The two best teams of each group have battled for the 2007 Indesit European Champion title.
MVP: Taismary Aguero (ITA)
Best Scorer: Ekaterina Gamova (RUS)
Best Spiker: Malgorzata Glinka (POL)
Best Blocker: Jenny Barazza (ITA)
Best Server: Jovana Brakocevic (SRB)
Best Setter: Maja Ognjenovic (SRB)
Best Receiver: Liubov Shashkova (RUS)
Best Libero: Paola Cardullo (ITA)
Women’s Indesit European Championships 2007
Results and Rankings
ITA-RUS 3:0 25-21, 25-22, 25-13
POL-SRB 0:3 25-27, 21-25, 21-25
RUS-POL 3:1 21-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-20
ITA-SRB 3:0 26-24, 25-18, 25-21