Italy climbed the top of the podium at the women’s CEV Volleyball European Championship for the third time in history, after celebrating as continental titleholders in 2007 and 2009. In Saturday evening’s EuroVolley final in Belgrade, a remake of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship, they managed a four-set victory over the champions of the previous two editions and reigning world champions Serbia. The silver was Serbia’s seventh medal in the history of the competition. Turkey took the bronze. Italy’s Paola Egonu was named MVP of the tournament.

Thousands of spectators created a fantastic ambience at the Stark Arena in the Serbian capital for the final, but Italy disappointed the home team with a 3-1 (24-26, 25-22, 25-19, 25-11) victory. After losing the first set and winning the second, Italy were five points behind in the third, when coach Davide Mazzanti changed setters, putting Ofelia Malinov into play. That moved proved key to the eventual turnaround in the set and the complete domination of the next one to win the match.

“I am very happy, because it was finally time for revenge. Serbia are a very strong team and in the last five years we were not able to win against them. But today, here in Belgrade, here at this European Championship, we did it and it’s even more beautiful!” Malinov said. “I am very happy that my coach gave me an opportunity to come in. We are one team and everyone is always ready for sacrifice. It was a very long summer and this was a perfect, a wonderful ending!”

Paola Egonu was the best scorer of the match on a total of 29 points, which improved her tournament total to 193, second only to Tijana Boskovic’s 215. The Serbian star finished the final match with 20 points to her name.

Boskovic was also the top spiker of EuroVolley 2021. Russia’s Arina Fedorovtseva scored the most aces, 34, 12 clear of the next best, Egonu. Bulgaria’s Hristina Vuchkova tallied the highest number of kill blocks, 25, in only six matches played.

Earlier on Saturday, Turkey mastered a 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-23) win over next year’s World Championship co-hosts Netherlands to claim the EuroVolley bronze, their third in the history of the competition. They also have two silvers, but have never been able to lift the trophy. Outside hitter Hande Baladin and opposite Ebrar Karakurt contributed 13 points each to the victory, while Dutch outside and captain Anne Buijs produced the match high 14 points.