Brazil gave a lot of joy to the home crowd by winning the men’s volleyball gold medal of Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a straight-set 3-0 (25-22, 28-26, 26-24) victory over Italy in front of a delirious full house at Maracanazinho on Sunday.
It was the first straight-set victory in a men’s Olympic final since Sydney 2000 when Yugoslavia beat Russia 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-20) in just 1 hour and 9 minutes.
After coming up short in the last two editions of the Olympics as runners-up in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, the Brazilians captured their third gold medal in the history of the competition. They also finished at the top of the podium in Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004 and got a silver medal in Los Angeles 1984.
Italy had to settle for their third silver medal to go with three bronzes. The Italians also finished second in Atlanta 1996 and Athens. They occupied the third slot in Los Angeles, Sydney 2000 and London.
Wallace de Souza, the tournament leading scorer with 147 points, carried most of the load of the Brazilian offence with a match-high 20 points, followed by Luis Felipe Fonteles with 11, including the final point with his block against Ivan Zaytsev. Mauricio de Souza and Lucas Saatkamp contributed 8 and 7 points, respectively, in the victory.
Italy’s Zaytsev and Osmany Juantorena finished with 17 and 14 points, respectively, in the loss.
In the first set, Fonteles scored with two spikes around block by Saatkamp and Wallace’s ace to give Brazil a four-point lead 16-12. Italy came within one-point distance 22-21 via two opponent errors, but Lucarelli’s ace restored order and Brazil claimed the set 25-22 when Zaytsev faulted with his serve.
Juantorena put Italy in the lead 4-1 with two spikes and one ace in the second set. Brazil came back to tie the score at 9-all with the block by Wallace against Zaytzev. Both teams kept battling point after point. Brazil broke the tie at 22-all with Wallace’s spike and fault by Juantorena but gave back the lead with two errors. Then Wallace blocked Zaytsev and Mauricio de Souza served a winner for the 28-26 in favour of Brazil.
The third set was also an intense battle of titans point by point. At 24-all, Lucas scored with a big spike and then Fonteles blocked Zaytzev for the Olympic gold medal.