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Unbeaten Italy shut out Russia on Sunday and were crowned 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Champions. In the match for gold, which was a re-match of the 2020 CEV U20 European Championship and of the 2019 FIVB U19 World Championship finals, the Italians did not leave any chances to their opponents, beating them in three sets. Michieletto & Co confirmed the Italian domination of the tournament, repeating the success of the U20 women, who earlier this year were also crowned champions of the world. Earlier on Sunday, Poland left no doubts over who was better in the bronze medal match against Argentina and claimed a straight-set victory.

Gold Medal Match

Italy started slightly better in the match, showing good performance in blocking, and led by an impeccable Alessandro Michieletto (100% success in spiking), took the lead. Roman Murashko, on the other side of the net, was on fire as well (80% in attack). The hosts maintained their level (75% in attacking), and despite Stanislav Dinekyn’s efforts towards the end of the set (two aces in a row for 19-23), Italy won the set. Italy then had problems with unforced errors, allowing Russia to start better. However, with the set unfolding, the Italians found their rhythm back and started breathing down their opponents’ necks. With two important spikes in the last moments of the set, captain Tommaso Rinaldi shined. Russia, on the other hand, had problems with recording a single block. A similar scenario unfolded in the last set, when Russia took the lead, but an ace by Nicola Ciancotta helped Italy turn things around. Italy were on fire in the last minutes of the game, showing outstanding performance in block-defence.

Statistically, Russia were better only on the serve (seven to five), while the Italians outperformed their opponents in attacking (39 to 35), in blocking (seven to one) and seized more opportunities on their opponents’ mistakes (24 to 18). Once again, Michieletto led the scorers with 18 points to his name.

"I am living a dream now! I am thankful to all my teammates, to the staff, because it wasn't easy. It was a complicated tournament for us, despite the results that might have looked like easy victories from the outside. Yesterday, we won in the semifinal, but we knew that we weren't perfect. Today, we showed our volleyball,” MVP Michieletto said. “I want to thank again my teammates and the staff, who took care of me and helped me work in the best possible conditions, so that I can support the team as well."

“It is incredible! We have had so much fun today! This is the second World Championship that we win together with this generation of players. We are a team that should be remembered!" Tommaso Rinaldi, outside hitter and captain of Italy, told Volleyball World.

Bronze Medal Match

Argentina’s setter started off well in the match, showing smart play, supported by Agustin Gallardo on the block. However, Antoni Kwasigroch from Poland was on fire and with 100% efficiency in attacking (3 points before the 11th point), helped Poland take the lead. Argentina finished the set better in attacking, with eight successful winning spikes, but as many as three aces made the difference for Poland. The players around head coach Daniel Plinski dominated in the next set, showing far better performance on the block (eight for the first two sets). Karol Urbanowicz was on fire in this element, and even though Gallardo tried to respond, it was not enough. Argentina, and the libero Tobias Scarpa in particular, showed great defence in the first minutes of the third set, but Poland kept on finding their opponents’ weak spots. The South Americans struggled to finish their attacks (only 25% success), and led by Adrian Markiewicz with good performance in the deciding moments, Poland grabbed the bronze medals.

Overall, the Poles delivered better performance in all the elements, finishing with 37 winning spikes, nine blocks and five aces. Dawid Dulski topped the charts with 21 points, while Antoni Kwasigroch added 11.

Poland celebrating the bronze medal

Poland celebrating the bronze medal

“It is an incredible feeling! I am proud of my team! We could get back on our feet after the tough loss to Italy in the semifinal, and bring home the bronze medal. It is amazing to be playing again in front of an audience! Overall, it was a good tournament for us, we had some problems with injuries, but we finished positively, ” Antoni Kwasigroch, outside hitter of Poland, told Volleyball World.

FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship Dream Team

FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship Dream Team

FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship Dream Team

Best setter: Paolo Porro (ITA)

Best opposite: Roman Murashko (RUS)

Best outside hitter: Manuel Armoa (ARG)

Best outside hitter: Tommaso Rinaldi (ITA)

Best middle blocker: Karol Urbanowicz (POL)

Best middle blocker: Nicola Ciancotta (ITA)

Best libero: Damiano Catania (ITA)

Most Valuable Player (MVP): Alessandro Michieletto (ITA)