The road to the final had been a long one, but Russia and Brazil gave the fans one of the most exciting matches ever. Olympic FIVB Hero Murilo Endres and his teammates started out really well while the Russians couldn’t find their rhythm in the game at first. The Brazilians won the first and second sets 25-19 and 25-20 and it looked like victory would be theirs for the taking, but the third set proved to be the decisive one. The Russians really upped their game, with FIVB Hero Maxim Mikhaylov being especially fierce in attack, and the set was incredibly even in the final part until Brazil missed out on two match balls and the Europeans won 29-27.
In the fourth set, Brazil could have closed the match 3-1, but by now the Russians had grown in confidence and nailed it 25-22, forcing a tie-break. In a nerve-wracking fifth set, Russia won 15-9, taking home their tenth Olympic medal, 32 years after their last gold medal! Murilo Endres and Maxim Mikhaylov were the second best scorers of their teams earning 18 and 17 points respectively.
In the bronze medal match Bulgaria met Italy and FIVB Hero Cristian Savani and his team-mates earned a 3-1 victory (25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21), winning their fifth Olympic medal. The captain was the best scorer with 23 points and Bulgaria’s dreams of medal glory were shattered, but nobody can deny that Tsvetan Sokolov’s team performance was the sensation of the tournament and will be remembered for years to come.
All our Olympic FIVB Heroes had an amazing tournament and their stellar efforts were duly rewarded:
MVP: Murilo Endres (BRA)
Best Scorer: Maxim Mikhaylov (RUS)
Best Spiker: Maxim Mikhaylov (RUS)
Best Server: Cristian Savani (ITA)