Montreux, Switzerland, September 9, 2018- Italy sealed their first Gold Medal at the Montreux Volley Masters since 2004 on Sunday, seeing off Russia in straight sets in a fiercely contested match, after Turkey overcame Brazil in the Bronze Medal match in a thrilling tie-break.
The 33rd Montreux Masters elected MVP and Italy’s leading points scorer Paola Ogechi Egonu was the star of the final, notching 26 point en route to her sides victory, whilst everybody connected with the tournament extends their best wishes to Russia’s Irina Krotkova, whose final ended prematurely with injury.
Meanwhile, it was a happy end to the tournament for Giovanni Guidetti and his Turkey side, who have finished on the podium now in their last three appearances having won Bronze two years ago and Gold back in 2015.
Bronze Medal Match (3rd/4th Place): Brazil 2:3 Turkey (16-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-20, 13-15)
It was Turkey who had their moment in the limelight in the first order of the day, as they held their nerve to see off Brazil in Sunday’s Bronze Medal encounter to seal their place on the podium.
It was a victory owed to the exploits of their star trio Hande Baladin, Eda Erdem Dundar and Meryem Boz who notched a combined 58 points to secure the medal in a game which looked like slipping away from them as they surrendered a two-set lead to the deposed champions, whose own star duo Rosamaria Montibeller and Gabi Guimaraes, grew into the game, along with a bright performance from Drussyla Costa.
The biggest moment of the game came in the final set, where having let the lead slip and seen Brazil 10-9 ahead in the tie-break, Guidetti called timeout and delivered an impassioned speech to his players on the sidelines in a bid to reignite their fire and push them over the line for the medal. And his animated approach worked as Eda Erdem Dundar led from the front to score two huge points, before Baladin struck match-point to clinch the medal and write a personal wrong for their coach Guidetti, who finished on the losing side in this match as coach of the Netherlands two years prior.
Gold Medal Final: Italy 3:0 Russia (25-21, 30-28, 26-24)
After the Bronze Match concluded, the grande finale was up next as Davide Mazzanti’s Azzurre side looked to exorcise the demons of 2009 where they fell at the final hurdle at the Montreux Masters, with Vadim Pankov’s Russia the team standing in their way.
And was Italy who had the edge as tournament MVP and leading Azzurre markswoman, Paola Ogechi Egonu, outdid her opposite attacker Nataliya Goncharova in the duel between two of the competition’s most potent attackers. Egonu hit 26 points over the course of the final, including the point that clinched the Championship after Middle Blockers Ofelia Malinov and Anna Danesi- who were excellent throughout the final- came up with two critical plays to deny Russia at match-point and place Italy one score from the title, giving Egonu the chance to seize the spoils. For Russia, their wait for a first Montreux title since 2002 goes on, and it is another tale of falling at the final hurdle to go with their defeat at this stage back on the Swiss Riviera five years ago.
It was a final that despite the score was wrought with all the quality expected of a matchup between two teams as good as this as some heart-stopping rallies were exchanged, and it was a fitting MVP performance from the matchwinner to put the gloss on a unique Montreux Masters tournament that has added so much to the potted history of the famous showpiece, and it is certain to live long in the memory of all watching on both on the shores of Lac Léman, and all over the world.