Russia’s volleyball side are the new FIVB World League champions after besting last year’s winners Brazil in the final in the Polish city of Gdansk.
The Russians displayed stunning form throughout the competition, losing just one game in the Intercontinental Round.
Defeat at the hands of Bulgaria eventually came, but only after Vladimir Alekhno’s men guaranteed themselves first-place qualification for the Final Round.
Russia was unbeatable in the elimination-round Final 8, topping Brazil 3-0 and giving away just one away to host Poland in the semifinal.
The super-tight final game saw the teams level at 2-2 after four sets, with the winner to be decided in the tie-break.
It was Alekhno’s charges who took a three-point lead in the middle of the fifth set. The South Americans’ attempts to get back into the game were stopped by fatigue, which led to two failed serves and several unforced errors.
Fittingly, the winning point for Russia came from their best player, Maksim Mikhailov, who scored 25 points on the night.
The game ended with a 3:2 scoreline (23:25, 27:25, 25:23, 22:25, 15:11). The Russian team’s second FIVB World League triumph came nine years after they first claimed the prestigious event, in 2002. They have been stopped in the final on five other occasions.
Meanwhile, Poland gave the home fans something to cheer about by beating Argentina in straight sets in the clash for the bronze medal, 3-0 (25:18, 25:23, 25:22).