World No. 1 Brazil have claimed their fourth medal at the World Championship after taking three silver medals (1994, 2006 and 2010).
Milan, Italy, October 12, 2014 - The World No. 1 Brazil overcame the disappointment of Saturday's semifinal defeat to USA and outlasted hosts Italy 3-2 (25-15, 25-13, 22-25, 22-25, 15-7) in front of a 12,600-strong sellout crowd, to finish third in the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championships. Italy rank 4th. It's the lowest Brazil have been since a 7th place in 2002, though counting the other way round it's their fourth-best appearance ever, after the silver medals of 1994, 2006 and 2010. For Italy it is the second-best finish ever (after the gold medal of 2002), equaling their 2006 performance when they lost the bronze medal match to Serbia & Montenegro.
It was the third World Championship meeting between Brazil and Italy. Brazil won both previous meetings 3-0 (last 16 in 1990 and 1st round in 2010). These countries have met twice at the Olympic Games, with Brazil winning both matches (3-2 in 2004 and 3-0 in 2008). They met once at the 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix, with Brazil winning 3-0. The last time Italy defeated Brazil in a major tournament was at the 2011 World Cup (3-0).
Best scorer of the bronze medal match was Italy’s Valentina Diouf with 31 points. Sheilla contributed 21 kills for Brazil. Brazil had the edge in blocking (11-6), Italy in serving (7-5).
- Brazil have claimed their fourth medal at the World Championship after taking three silver medals (1994, 2006 and 2010).
- Brazil have lost their only previous World Championship bronze medal match 3-1 against Russia in 1998.
- Brazil have finished in the top four for the fifth time in the last six editions, finishing the third time in a row on the podium. They only finished seventh in 2002.
- Brazil have surpassed Japan's 87 wins at the World Championship. Only Russia/Soviet Union have won more matches (120).
- It was the second time Italy were in a bronze medal match at the World Championship. They lost 3-0 against Serbia and Montenegro in 2006.
- Italy have finished in the top four for the third time after 2002 (gold), 2006 (fourth) and 2014 (fourth).
Both World 1. Brazil and host Italy were amongst the pre-tournament favorites and with their performances until Saturday were also favored to win their semifinals. Nevertheless, both teams lost and it was interesting to see how they react to Saturday's defeats and the fact that they could no longer go for the trophy. Head to head in official FIVB competitions Brazil had 24 wins to Italy's seven. Brazil jumped out for an 8-4 lead at the first technical break with captain Fabiana firing wildly from the middle of the court. Italy coach Marco Bonitta called his ladies off court at 9-4 to have a serious chat – however – it did not help. Jaqueline scored twice for Brazil to make it 11-4. It was a one-sided contest in the early stages of the opening set. Fe Garay and Sheilla smacked down two kills to bring the scores to 16-8 in Brazil’s favor. It seemed as Italy were not yet ready for their bronze medal conquest. Thaisa closed out the first set with an ace at 25-15. Jaqueline, with six points, was Brazil’s most spectacular player in the opening set.
The second set started with an amazing Valentina Diouf show – hammering bravely from all possible angles of the court. The 202-centimeter young star scored eight out of eleven Italian points in the beginning of the second set. Consequently, the battle became more balanced at there was nothing to separate the two teams until 11-11. However, it was a short-lived comeback with the world’s best team quickly raising their game again and having a five-point lead at the second TTO. Fabiana and Jaqueline were the main forces for the South Americans at that stage of the match. Then, in an enormous run – the reigning Olympic champions rallied for 13 (!) straight points from 11-11 to 24-11. Brazil were in complete control and Italy simply could not keep up. Jaqueline ended the second set 25-13 for Brazil.
The hosts needed a quick reaction in the beginning of the third set to avoid another great disappointment after Saturday’s semifinal loss. Above all, they needed rapid improvements of their block-defense system. With 50% and 57% positive attacks in the first two sets, Zé Roberto’s squad had fully dominated the battle at the net. Indeed, World No. 4 Italy started the third set with much more determination. At the first technical timeout, they led 8-6 and they widened the gap to five points at the second break. Brazil came closer at 16-15 and 18-17 but Italy kept the upper hand. Caterina Bosetti remained calm in the crucial moments of the third set, securing two decisive points at 23-20 and 24-21. Del Core closed it out at 25-22 and - despite their performance in the first two sets – the hosts were still alive in the race for a spot on the podium. With nine kills in the set, Diouf remained the key player for Italy.
Italy had strongly improved their defense in the third set and they took momentum into the fourth set. However – it remained a close affair in Milan’s sellout Mediolanum Forum. Valentina Arrighetti moved the hosts in a one-point lead at the second technical timeout. The match balanced on a knife’s edge now with both teams exchanging lead until 22-22. Bosetti found a gap in the Brazilian block at 23-22 and then Thaisa sent the Mikasa long to offer Italy two set points at 24-22. Cristina Chirichella – with a spectacular block on Jaqueline – ended it one rally later, sending the bronze medal match of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championships into a tiebreak. It was a brand new game now in Milan.
There was not much to separate the two teams in the early stages of the fifth and decisive set. However, after a tie at 4-4, Brazil scored four consecutive points to gain a hard earned 8-4 lead at changeover. Italy did their utmost to turn the tables, but it was already too late. Jaqueline and Fabiana moved the score forward for Brazil and never looked back. Sheilla brought up match point at 14-7 and Fe Garay closed out the spectacular battle at 15-7.